Stepping back in time was vital step forward for Norwich City

Norwich City fans at the Peterborough  FA Cup third round game. Norwich City fans at the Peterborough FA Cup third round game.

Robin Sainty
Friday, January 11, 2013
4:54 PM

Anyone who claims that time travel is just a myth has clearly never been to a game at London Road.

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

A stand that could easily be reclassified as a museum exhibit, open terraces, Engelbert Humperdinck on the pre-game playlist and toilet rolls on the pitch all made for a wonderfully retro experience.

Peterborough itself was transformed into a sea of yellow and green as more than 5,000 City fans descended on the city and, particularly for those of us not subject to the apparently appalling train services, the whole day had a carnival atmosphere.

That was never going to be spoilt by a surprisingly anaemic performance from the home side against what was largely a second string City line-up.

However, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and City did a thoroughly professional job of killing off the tie without ever really having to get into top gear.

It was also a useful reminder of the qualities of some of the players that many of us haven’t seen for a while, but there’s a danger in drawing too many conclusions from such an undemanding encounter.

There was a significant gulf between the challenges posed by Posh and what would be expected from even a mid table Premier League side, although I’m sure that Chris Hughton will have noted the performances of several players who staked a realistic claim for more first team action in the coming weeks.

With a very winnable home draw against non-League opposition in the next round City should progress. Then, of course, they will be facing the same dilemma as last season in terms of risking key players for Cup glory, but that’s a problem for the future.

Of more immediate relevance is the fact that the run of defeats has been arrested and some positive momentum regained before tomorrow’s game.

Inevitably some will label this a “six pointer”, one of the most overused and meaningless clichés in football. Clearly Newcastle are struggling and City will be expected to win, but with 16 games to go after this one, to suggest that tomorrow’s result will somehow be pivotal is ridiculous.

However, Hughton will be acutely aware of the quality in the Newcastle squad, although I’m sure that like all of us he will have been pleased to see Demba Ba, the scourge of City on more than one occasion, leave for Chelsea so early in the transfer window.

What I hope we avoid is a situation where the expectancy of a City win translates into the sort of palpable tension from the crowd that can transmit itself to the players. This is going to be a tough game and hopefully the fans, as the players will need to be, can be patient.

Whether or not we will soon see any new faces in the City squad is still up in the air, as the rumour mill continues to run at a dizzying speed, with the club linked to virtually every striker with a pulse.

The one thing that we can be sure of is that the chances of any potential targets being leaked in advance are virtually nil. The club has, in recent years, managed to conduct its transfer business well away from the public eye, and long may that continue.

While we live in an age where news is transmitted alarmingly fast via the social media, some things are better dealt with behind closed doors rather than in public.

I much prefer that the club does its business quietly and privately rather than open itself up to Dutch auctions, even if it means that I have to obsessively check Twitter every 10 minutes throughout January to see if a signing has been announced!


Previous columns by Robin Sainty