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Is three the magic number for Norwich’s promotion dreams?

14:23 02 January 2015

Norwich City first team coaches Gary Holt (left) and Mike Phelan with manager Neil Adams (right) in the dugout at Reading. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City first team coaches Gary Holt (left) and Mike Phelan with manager Neil Adams (right) in the dugout at Reading. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

“We can’t lose many more because the gap is now extending to the top two places. We have to get back on it straight away.”

Some of the rule changes readers would like to see

Dearest reader, you made my Christmas.

My previous fortnightly ramblings on this page regarding potential changes to the rules of football caused a reaction the like of which I’ve rarely enjoyed in my years of Norwich City columns. Although granted just two e-mails would increase the usual response by 100pc.

Even though most of the reaction was actually in disagreement (one reader even claimed he could tell I was a centre-back simply from reading the defence-minded proposals), at least it started a debate. Here is some reaction.

On the suggestion of a 30-minute sin-bin for professional fouls

“The punishment is harsh – but it’s supposed to be a deterrent. Give ‘em 30 minutes in a sin bin and these fouls will become even more commonplace than they already are.

“Where I would have agreed with you wholeheartedly is if you’d said the law should be applied differently if the professional foul is committed INSIDE the area. That’s where the injustice comes in. I think a penalty and a yellow card should then be seemed sufficient punishment.” Trevor Burton

“How about a penalty goal being awarded? Then there’s no need to foul.” Norman Smart

On following the lead of rugby

“I have advocated for ages this idea of simply moving a free-kick forward 10 yards in an attempt to simply shut up those mouthy individuals which every team seems to have in the side. IF “the governors of our beloved game” adopted this excellent idea then free-kicks 30 yards out being moved forward to 20 yards out would have the effect of substantially increasing the opportunity to score a goal – players would very soon sort out their colleagues with the big mouths if goals ensued from such an action.” Mike Holmes

On the offside rule

“Extend the front line of the penalty box to the touchlines and have no offside up-field of this line. Simple and easily policed by the match officials, in fact it should make their task easier by reducing the area of the pitch they have watch for offsides. No complicated change of rules, no technology. Strikers will love it, defenders hate it, so should lead to more goals.” Frank Robinson

Click here if you want to read my initial column. Feel free to keep sending ideas and feedback to david.powles@archant.co.uk.

So spoke Neil Adams in the aftermath of Sunday’s hugely disappointing defeat at the hands of Reading. And how right he is. To be a bit more precise, three games could be as many that Norwich can come away from empty-handed in the 22 matches between now and the end of the season if the automatic promotion that so many crave is to be secured.

It’s crude, granted, but I’m basing that on the final points tally of the top two teams in the Championship for the previous 10 seasons. In that time the average points haul for the league winners has been 91 points, while 84 is the figure for runners-up. It’s widely quoted that you need two points a game on average to secure promotion from the league, but that figure has actually been achieved only four times in a decade.

Bournemouth are currently meeting the target, but I don’t expect that to continue. Arch-rivals Ipswich, managed by Mick McCarthy, pictured, are near to it, but I also predict their challenge will tail off over the next few months as the strength of their squad is tested to the limit. Derby County remain the club to beat and I expect them to top the charts come May. I’d hazard a guess that leaves the Canaries needing around 47 points from the remaining 22 games to reach 84 points and possibly a return to the promised land at the first attempt. Even my woeful mathematical standards won’t stop me from working out that 14 wins and five draws would achieve that.

That doesn’t leave much margin for error. Yet despite this, and you might spit your brew out at the next statement, I think this target is wholly achievable, even for a team that has lost seven of the 24 games it has already played. The negative reaction from many to Sunday’s defeat would have you believe that promotion is now mathematically impossible for this City side. But until it is an impossibility, given this mad Championship world we’re in, I refuse to give up hope. Especially when the talent in the squad is clear – how best to harness it remains the issue.

Martin Olsson. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdMartin Olsson. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Should you ask for a prediction, however, then I’ll stick with that made at the very start of the summer – which was Norwich City would finish fifth in the league, but their fate in the subsequent play-offs would be wholly unpredictable.

Should that position be achieved (and we’re only four points off that spot now), two good games would probably be enough to secure a mass day out at Wembley, an outcome I’m adamant most fans would have been satisfied with just a few months ago.

So let’s not be too gloomy. The Reading defeat on the back of such thumping victories beforehand felt completely and utterly deflating. Apt that it came in those horribly dull days after Christmas, when the presents, fun and excitement are over for another year. But put the loss in the context of three wins, a draw and a defeat in the past five matches and City’s form table looks much improved. That sequence of results played out in the next 22, would give Norwich 46 points and a final tally of 83, just one off the magic mark. Defeats will happen in this league. Don’t forget there are probably a dozen or more clubs around us whose fans make the same claims that they too should be in the Premier League. Belong there in fact.

It is what makes this league such a fascinating battle and the next 22 games promise to be just that. The stereotypical rollercoaster ride. Whether Norwich will be good enough to ensure the ups outnumber the downs remains to be seen.

It certainly possesses a squad with talent and strength in depth, but one which needs to find consistency over more than just a handful of games from this moment on.

24 comments

  • like i said in the summer,we wont get promoted until we get an experienced manager in.

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    bluelight

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

  • most fans would have been satisfied with a day out at Wembley in a playoff lottery? Are you serious?! This is one of the most expensively assembled Championship sides in the history of the division, anything other than automatic promotion would (rightly) have been viewed as a big disappointment!

    Report this comment

    ChibiSeicento

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

  • @Lincs I have no idea. He has not been in contact cor a while.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

  • @Hucks I am upper Barclay and those I sit with have experienced every footballing emotion there is! No mutiny strong support but a heck of a lot of frustration!

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

  • To David Powles. I like to play around with stats and can assure you there will always be someone who cannot tell the difference between their use to make a salient point and a prediction. El Dingo, I too am suffering from a spate of New Year blocks. Also, what is the truth re Brew? Ban or sabattical?

    Report this comment

    Lincs Canary

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

  • The second goal at Reading was poor, very poor, but the first was a highly dubious penalty. Refs could give 10 pens in every match if that becomes a norm. So we lost to a dodgy pen. If we'd pulled off a draw away from home I doubt there would have been this negative outpouring. Every eventuality remains possible at this stage. We could still finish anywhere from first to bottom. Supporters need to support whilst this remains the case. Only once our fate is sealed (last 10 games of last season for example) do we need to panic.

    Report this comment

    Double D

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • After the performance at Reading nobody can be under any illusion as to the strength and character of this squad. Such a disappointment, we all hoped that the new coaching regime had turned the season around. But no. So, although we will all hope for the best, realistically we can only expect further poor performances and further disappointment. If we only lose a further 3 matches I will be hugely surprised.

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • If we're indulging in new year predictions then my forecast is a finish of 60+ points, maybe just into playoffs. Assuming we strengthen the defence.

    Report this comment

    cutty

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • OhHucks, I guess it is a case of where you sit in the ground. I sit in the Jarrold and many fans around me have long since accepted that we are not good enough to make the top two. We all said that the Reading game would be the acid test to see if we could grasp a play off position and the team failed miserably. We desperately need to sort out the defence so that we can play a more attacking formation in midfield, then we need to find at least one good quality midfielder. Performance in the transfer window is the only thing that may turn things in our favour I suspect, however, I do not see the Premiership as essential as I prefer to have a decent chance of winning most games rather than being made to look like poor country cousins.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • i wonder statistically of the posts here if you were to log those that went to the matches and those that did not (not that im suggesting one is entitled to more of an opinion than others) which would appear more positive, it seems to me the opinion in the ground is less pessimistic than outside

    Report this comment

    OhhhhHuckerrrrby

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Could you imagine what a failed playoff campaign would do to this fragile lot? More columns like this please Archie. Sparks a good debate.

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    el dingo

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Thanks for your comments guys - but I've not actually said I believe we will only lose 3 games, just that's what it would take for automatic promotion. As stated here, I think we'll finish 5th. OTBC

    Report this comment

    David Powles

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Repeatedly blocked. It was well said last three posters and now I will add @regulador. If this gets through.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • I have to commend this comment wholeheartedly -Factual rational and objective debate. Such a pity that those who are paid to write such reports repeatedly fall short of credibility.

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    Regulador

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • The last three comments are all too accurate. Keep the faith? Sure. Expect much? Not this soldier. We could have become established in the Prem but the Board blew it. That is why I am unhappy with them.

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    el dingo

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • I think we have a bit of a dilema coming up in the January transfer window. We look to be borderline to even make the playoffs based on our inconsistency therefore if we splash out in January what sort of players can we attract .Realistically We could go for players from the Premier league who are perhaps past their best or not getting regular 1st team places or a proven Championship player who we could offer higher wages . The other alternative is to get someone with potential from the lower leagues - always a risk they can step up to Championship level in a short time and I'm sure would be hounded as a another cheap option by the Board. All of the three options as with any incoming transfer is always a risk. You only have to read some of the comments on this board regarding Grabben, Hooper, Lafferty and anyone else you can think of whether our buys have been value for money. We still don't know which players we might lose in January and how that will affect our team. Personally I think we will know by the end of January ,or if we have a good January , the middle of February if we have a chance of making the playoffs so do we take the risk in the January sales or do we keep with what we have and if we don't look like making the playoffs then we should start blooding our youngsters ready for our second season in the Championship. Unless we perform really well and consistently in the second half of the season , I wouldn't want us to scrape in the PL unless I thought we had a good enough squad with some new additions to hold our own in the PL without getting thrashed every week.

    Report this comment

    NoggintheNog

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Nice try David, but it just won't wash! Malaga is quite right, and your belief in 47pts and just 3 defeats from the rest of the season is pie in the sky. The reason I, and no doubt many NCFC fans were so deflated after the Reading defeat are that it was a pivotal game for the club. Was the 'Phelan factor' real or an illusion? Had things really changed in terms of performance and results? 10 pts from the previous 4 games was great, but the 3 wins were all against bottom 6 sides. The Derby result was the only meaningful sign of progress for me. Everything was in our favour going into the Reading game (and not just because Neil couldn't wait for it to be played....). We were in form, scoring goals, against a side out of form and lacking confidence. It was the third game in a week, so our large squad should have been an advantage, yet there was nothing in the performance to give any reason to be positive for the next 22 games. Yet Reading away is just the sort of game we have to win to make the play-offs, let alone automatic promotion. Also, David, you have based your calculations on the last 5 games, when we have played 4 struggling sides, but those 5 games are the only recent period when we have managed 2pts per game. If you had taken the last 3,8 or 10 matches etc, the picture would not look so healthy, Why should they not be just as representative as they include a more balanced set of opponents?? Like Malaga, I really want to be positive, but the evidence suggests otherwise......

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    Alan Black's Back

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • And if we DID get back in the Prem , what then ? Try to compete up there with this present misfiring squad or buy another three McWolfswinkels and blow half the ££££££££ to come before a ball is licked in anger up there ? And then another miserable one-game-a-fortnight season with half the games near-certain losses , followed by a skin-of-the-teeth survival at April 1917 , or an ignominious descent back down here again ? Oh I'd love to be playing in Europe , and go to Carrer Rud to see Real Madrid and Juventus and Benfica and Bayern Munich , but that's dreamland , unless any of you have got about £200 million quid to buy and maintain a world-class team ? . . . . . . . . No , thought not .

    Report this comment

    Bring on Foggo

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • We don't deserve to be back in the PL and if by some twist of fate that we get back there there's some serious changes that need to be made - in fact scrap that, there's some serious changes that need to be made now to give us half a chance of a play off place. But we all know that pressure and Norwich City aren't the best of bedfellows. But whatever the weather I'm gona be sticking up my mini car football kit in my flat window in London with pride! OTBC!!

    Report this comment

    Morgan's_tight_pants

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • No way can we go to the rest of the season losing only three games. Given our lack of consistency a top two finish is out of the question. There are too many flaws in the team. The most glaring being central defence, a key area which a team is built around. Until this problem is sorted we will continue to be also-rans and even a play-off place may well be beyond us. I hate to sound negative but this but it is the reality of the situation. Finding positives, we ought to use this time to begin to bring on our best youngsters, ones who have pace, ability and desire of the hungry fighter because the longer we remain in this division the less money will be available to buy quality players. Then it is a question of having a coach who can motivate these players, ingrain belief and get them playing together effectively as a unit. Whether Adams and Phelan will be able to achieve this only time will tell.

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    malaga flier

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Seems like someone has already spat our Brew out.

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    el dingo

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Yes your prediction for a 5th place finish is far more likely than a top 2 finish for City this year. Having been one of the large number that travelled all the way to Reading last week, I'm not convinced how realistic 5th place is after watching our latest outing. I cannot make the longer trip to Bournemouth but the result of that will go a long way to proving if we are good enough for a play off place.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Neil Adams needs to convert his comments to the media into action and results on the pitch. Supporters do not need reminding of the chances that should be taken but are are too often squandered. We had the same issues last year, we lost what we should have won.

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    Radshenko

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • As in THREE points I assume.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Friday, January 2, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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