December 5 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 8, 2012
Got away with that, then. At 3-1 down after barely half an hour it could have been a lot, lot worse against Chelsea.
It’s almost a cause for treble relief: we got an expected defeat out of the way without significantly worsening our goal difference on a weekend when no-one at the foot of the table got more than a point. Today’s table does not really look any worse than Saturday morning’s.
To have conceded no more than our ‘relegation’ four goals at Stamford Bridge – see 2002, 2004 and 2007 – is a perfectly acceptable mission of damage limitation being accomplished.
There’s always a marked difference between conceding four goal and five. Four is a heavy defeat, but five becomes a real rout.
Had that been the third time in seven games this season that City had conceded five then that really would have been a few more knives out for Chris Hughton.
As it was though, although we didn’t offer as much at Stamford Bridge as a year ago, losing by only a three-goal margin to the early leaders and European champions? I can live with that.
Those supporters targeting David McNally on Saturday might want to leave it another month.
I didn’t expect the Canaries to do anything against Chelsea and I anticipate nothing other than a defeat to Arsenal. But if we continue to lose to the likes of Aston Villa, Stoke, Reading and Southampton, then there is a real problem.
We can’t drop points to them in the way we did against QPR and West Ham – although the current table suggests that the latter draw may actually not have been a really bad result. And the one thing to have really come out of the last two games is that we ought now to be able to start scoring opportunist goals against some of the strugglers in the way we did when faced with Liverpool and Chelsea.
Grant Holt’s goal at Stamford Bridge a year ago was a brilliant piece of inventive play, but he matched it on Saturday.
Hopefully now he’s got back to being in the right place at the right time more should start to follow.
All right, maybe we might have hoped to hold out against Chelsea for rather more than three minutes, but at least we took the game to them, in the way we couldn’t against Fulham, Newcastle, Liverpool….
Holt, of course, now has to endure an international break to try to continue this return to form. And then there’s the small matter of Arsenal, a match when probably anything less than a two-goal defeat will actually be another confidence booster despite the scoreline.
But then it’s Villa, who, judging by yesterday, will not provide the daunting occasion that we all feared - unless we let them.
This time last year they were unbeaten with 11 points to their name thanks to a hated manager.
So far this season their saviour has managed just five.
That game will tell us an awful lot more about the Canaries than ever Saturday’s could.
• CITY NEED TO MAKE SURE PRICES ARE GOOD VALUE
Up to a [very slight] point, I don’t have a problem with the ticket prices for the Capital One Cup tie against Spurs and David McNally’s response of: “Compared to prices you will pay for the Norwich City-Tottenham Hotspur league game here, it’s a huge discount.”
But if you’re still going to charge an amount unheard of around here only three years ago, it’s not unreasonable for City fans to have some expectations from the club. Such as:
• Don’t let it become a glorified reserve game with our side showing 10 or 11 changes from the starting line-up of the previous weekend’s league fixture.
• Make sure we go about creating a proper match atmosphere as befitting teams in the self-styled “world’s greatest football league”, ie working hard to really talk up the game and our ambitions to reach a cup quarter-final against quite possibly weakened opposition. And, while we’re at it, also not selling lots of tickets to Tottenham supporters in home areas, like past pre-season friendlies,
• Treat it as a proper fixture rather than a mismatched cup tie by producing a full match programme.
Anything less and it’s a complete misjudgement by the club.
Quite frankly, though, I see it as a wasted opportunity to foster good relations in an age of absurdly high ticket prices and it’s yet another reason why proper football in this country is dying.
Why not reward people for loyal support in League One? Why not encourage future generations of fans who are being turned away from match-day support inside the ground by offering cheaper tickets to see a big-name club, if not exactly big-name players?
Last week I wrote that five of the Canaries’ last six fixtures in this competition had attracted crowds of 13,000-odd.
It will be very interesting to see how much more the attendance on October 31 will be – results in our next two league games notwithstanding.
• AN EPISODE WHICH ONLY ISOLATES FANS
So, do you believe the account of Alan Bowkett or Paul Lambert’s assessment of a situation which has broken down to such an extent that North and South Korea would appear to have a far more convivial relationship?
No-one is going to come out of this episode with any credit other than those members of m’learned friends who specialise in the vagaries of employment law.
All this sorry saga is ultimately going to achieve is to further hasten the demise of football as an interest in which supporters have any sort of personal connection with those at the top. Bickering over millions of pounds they don’t need is as far removed from the everyday lives of supporters as it is possible to get, and, in a time of a recession, frankly immoral.
While I think that the club may not have handled events this summer in the way they would have liked, the fact is that we all knew that Lambert was going, although he didn’t exactly endear himself to City fans with the manner of his Carrow Road exit.
And his comment of, “Am I concerned Norwich fans are only hearing one side of the story? In a word, yes.” has a bit of a hollow edge to it when you consider the way that he steadfastly refused in May to give Canaries supporters any indication whatsoever of his intentions. Not so much one side as no side whatsoever.
Yes, you can say that his time at Norwich probably “made” Lambert. Had he stayed at Colchester, what might have happened?
Well, given that Robbie Cowling recently sacked John Ward on the back on two successive 10th-place finishes, Lambert might have maybe managed another 18 months and then had to swallow his pride and go to somewhere unfashionable and out of the way like St Mirren – if he was lucky.
As it is, though, his prospects were transformed by his stay at Carrow Road. Even if the Aston Villa gig does not work out, he will still walk right into another job at Championship level.
His part in what might appear to be a tit-for-tat spat seriously tarnishes his standing, but, given where we were just three short years ago, would we do it all again in similar circumstances, knowing exactly how unhappily it would all end after three eventful seasons. You bet we would. That said, for the record, I have no reason to disbelieve a word Bowkett said.
• TV LOVES THE CATS AND CANARIES
What’s the complete obsession with Norwich versus Sunderland games at Sky?
With the news that December’s Carrow Road meeting is to be screened I make it that that’s four in a row that they have now plumped for. Which begs only one response. Why? Are they waiting for more never-to-be-remembered moments of NCFC history such as Cody McDonald going in goal for a few minutes in 2009?
Surely this sequence will come to an end with our visit to The Stadium of Light later in the season.
You’d think that, by then, Sky will be much more interested in City-Villa meetings.