Despite Paul Lambert’s comments about not relaxing until safety is mathematically certain, there was only one team at Carrow Road on Saturday that looked haunted by the spectre of relegation, and they weren’t wearing yellow and green.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Whereas City’s response to the previous Wednesday night’s aberration was to play with a total freedom that deserved to produce more goals, Bolton, despite recent good form, looked like a side lacking in self belief. Passes went astray, players argued with each other and their defence looked fragile whenever City came forward in numbers. Even when injury left us with no specialist centre back on the pitch the visitors were unable to turn an overwhelming height advantage into clear-cut chances.

However, the real measure of how much heart a team has is how it responds to going behind, and with very few exceptions City have always taken up the challenge with vigour when in that situation. Bolton, on the other hand, looked beaten the moment that Andrew Surman’s shot hit the net and the second goal came as no surprise to anyone.

It’s generally around this stage of the season that the threat of relegation starts to have a more noticeable effect on the teams at the bottom of the table. Games are ticking away and the pressure is mounting. A number of teams can already feel the draught from the opening trapdoor, although QPR, Wigan and Wolves, all with only one win in the last 10 games, particularly need to find some results quickly.

City, meanwhile, are averaging 1.6 points a game from their last 10 and now move on to a mouth-watering clash with Swansea which will no doubt allow the Match of the Day pundits to further indulge their love affair with the Welsh club. Swansea play lovely passing football, create well-worked goals and have taken to the Premier League like ducks to water. City, of course, tick all those boxes too, but sadly no one seems to have informed Alan Shearer or Mark Lawrenson of that fact, so I’m not expecting us to get too many mentions in the analysis of next week’s match, whatever the outcome.

Unfortunately it seems that we will be forced into changes due to the injuries to Dani Ayala and Zak Whitbread on Saturday. However, to be honest, we have been relatively fortunate with injuries so far this season, and huge credit has to go to the makeshift back four who finished Saturday’s game, demonstrating yet again the versatility of our squad. To achieve our second clean sheet in three weeks was an achievement of considerable merit.

Two very contrasting events caught my attention after the game. The first of these was Paul Lambert’s heartfelt comment about the moaners in the crowd.

To hear a man who is a master of the anodyne post-game interview get so animated shows that there was genuine anger behind his remarks, but I’m sure that it will do little to deter the minority who aren’t happy unless they’re complaining.

The other incident was much more light-hearted and involved Canary Call, that weekly exhibition of audio surrealism. This week’s gem was the chap who rang in to give Darren Eadie his opinion on the top performers for City.

After he highlighted Andrew Crofts, who hadn’t actually figured in the game, it came to light that he had, in fact, spent the afternoon in his armchair listening to the game on Radio Norfolk.

It appears that the irony of phoning Darren to tell him who had played well when his only source of such information was Eadie’s own analysis of the game (which he obviously misheard) was completely lost on him. Pure comedy gold.


Previous columns by Robin Sainty