December 7 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 26, 2012
Before the game the chap who sits in front of me in the Jarrold was telling me that his daughter had tickets for Mamma Mia on Saturday night and that he hoped that he wouldn’t be wishing that he could swap places with her by full time.
He needn’t have worried because by then we were both taking part in a Carrow Road production of Glee.
From the first few minutes, when Anthony Pilkington shot just wide, to the closing stages when the imperious Sébastien Bassong came from nowhere to deny Gervinho an undeserved equaliser, this was Norwich City’s day as the naysayers and doom mongers were silenced, at least for now.
Even turning on Match of the Day and having to listen to Harry Redknapp explain City’s win solely in terms of how poor Arsenal were was funny rather than annoying.
While I’ve been extolling Chris Hughton’s virtues all season, I have to say that his decision to start Michael Turner, a man who had previously seemed to be living out a personal nightmare whenever he stepped onto the pitch, was gutsy to say the least. However, that paled into insignificance compared to Turner’s performance, as he transformed himself into the dominating figure who stood out throughout Hull’s two Premiership seasons. That takes huge character, something that the City team exuded to a man.
Hughton’s tactics of being disciplined and forcing Arsenal to try to manufacture openings worked perfectly. Mikel Arteta, the fulcrum of most of their attacks, was largely neutralised with the majority of his passes going either backwards or sideways and his situation wasn’t helped by having to help Per Mertesacker sandwich Grant Holt on every long ball as the German international struggled to cope.
It’s a shame that Lee Probert apparently couldn’t work out that deliberately preventing a player from jumping for the ball is, in fact, a foul. Perhaps he was too busy doling out petty yellow cards to City players.
Of course, it was just one game, but as a confidence booster for the confrontation that we’ve all been waiting for at Villa Park on Saturday it couldn’t have come at a better time, either for the players or the fans.
There has been an air of despondency evident at the last couple of games, but the sound of all four stands belting out On the Ball City in the closing minutes was spine tingling.
Saturday will be interesting in terms of how City fans respond towards Paul Lambert. Having seen how he harnessed the venom of the Colchester fans to motivate his players when City won 5-0 there in our League One season, I hope that the reaction isn’t too hostile. While I resent the apparent manner of his departure I’m not party to all the facts and can’t forget what he did for our club, although the news that he is suing City for breach of contract has raised my hackles.
Once again, however, I’m not sure that all the facts are in the public domain. Personally, I’ll content myself with vocalising my support for our present manager rather than abusing Lambert.
If, as I suspect they will, City start well tomorrow it will be interesting to see how the home fans react. Their dreams of a return to the glory days haven’t materialised and there are rumours of a rift between Lambert and Darren Bent. If Villa are struggling I suspect that they will undermine Lambert and his team far more effectively than anything that we could throw at them.
That could be entertaining, particularly after the gloating at Carrow Road in May.