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Norwich City have no margin for error this time around

10:04 24 February 2016

Norwich Citys painful 3-2 Premier League defeat on the run-in against Liverpool in 2013/14 proved tough to take. Picture: Paul Chesterton

Norwich Citys painful 3-2 Premier League defeat on the run-in against Liverpool in 2013/14 proved tough to take. Picture: Paul Chesterton

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There is one crucial difference between Norwich City’s perilous position now and the desperate, dispiriting manner they exited the Premier League in 2013/14.

It has nothing to do with the manager or the style of play or even the personnel. But everything to do with perception.

At this same stage two years ago, with 12 games left in the Canaries’ top flight odyssey, the fear, the sense of impending doom was largely absent from those inside and outside the walls of Carrow Road. Norwich were above the waterline and comfortably clear of rivals in greater peril.

Chris Hughton’s squad actually won their next match, a battling 1-0 Premier League home win against Tottenham no less, to put even further daylight between themselves and the relegation places. Then they imploded.

City won just one more league game over the run-in, added two more draws to that paltry points tally, and were sunk by Sunderland’s stirring run to retrieve a lost cause from a seemingly impossible position. Hughton went, Neil Adams stepped up amidst a backdrop of rancour and recrimination, but the tailspin proved irreversible.

There was almost an element of surprise to the decline, or at least the speed City unravelled as they careered towards the Football League. Setting aside that unforeseen turn of events on Wearside, Norwich compliantly waved goodbye to the big time – which only heightened the sense of loss and pain.

There is no similar feeling of complacency this time around. How could there be after a wretched run of results since the turn of the year? Russell Martin’s pre-match words, prior to the Canaries’ 2-2 Premier League draw against West Ham, illustrated those who matter, those who shape the club’s destiny, know it has to happen and happen fast.

Norwich have no margin for error this time around, perhaps only Aston Villa look incapable of staging an improbable escape. Arguably it was City’s recent 2-0 league defeat at Villa Park which forced Alex Neil, his squad and any fans who felt confident they had enough to prevail to confront the gravity of this unfolding situation.

Pertinently, given it is title-challenging Leicester City this weekend, Norwich are not quite in what should forever be labelled as the Foxes’ survival territory. Nigel Pearson guided Leicester to seven wins and a draw from their last nine Premier League games 12 months ago to defy the pundits and gloomy forecasts. Despite Pearson’s untimely close-season exit the foundations had been laid for the current fairytale unfolding in the East Midlands.

Realism is the currency for Norwich and their captain, you suspect, is keen to make himself heard as one of the survivors from last time.

As Martin himself said on the eve of the Hammers’ recent visit: “The truth of the matter is at this stage of that season we weren’t under pressure. We were comfortable. Everyone thought we were going to be safe and that was the problem. Sunderland went on a run that no-one could see happening.

“The aim and the focus are a bit different this time around. Last time we all felt we would get over the line and get the points we needed. Now we know exactly what the target is.

“It is about getting above that line and staying there. We have spoken about it among the lads recently. It hurts more than anything. I don’t want another one on my CV, that is the same for the other lads. It will still hurt me in 20 years time talking about that.”

Much has been made regarding the baggage and psychological scar tissue for those who went down before during the Canaries’ winless run since Christmas. But there might also be a positive legacy if it can spark a concerted survival push between now and May.

25 comments

  • Well said @MartinL, we even had the same GD (-20) after 26 games last time around.

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    ScotCan

    Thursday, February 25, 2016

  • One good thing about going down is that surely we will have got rid of the so called defence by the time we come back up, I wonder if AN still thinks he has a premiership class defence now? any defender heading back across goal is not a defender.

    Report this comment

    vmarshall

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Bru . . . . the little piccy . . . . River or Barclay? Just ASCIIng? Take a guess. It's a 50 \ 50 you superfan. Over to you.

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Bru . . . . dare you to post a comment without mentioning 'custard'. Go on, you have it in you, there you are then !

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • I suspect, and have for at least the last 10 games that the number of points this year to be safe will be around 45. I hope I'm wrong as I can't see NC getting any where near that total. For all their bungling, Sunderland and Newcastle often look like a team of players for a good part of their matches, alas NC don't. AV are AV and will struggle because they have half of NC's disease - they can't score goals, except against NC. So at the end of the season, unless Swansea continue to implode or even Bournemouth or WBA suddenly decide that gathering points isn't for them, I see the final doomed trio being AV, NC and either Sunderland or Newcastle. Of course I might be completely wrong, but a team which has gone from conceding at least 1 goal per game to now at least 2 per game will struggle at best, and to add to it a lemming style defence doesn't bode well.

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    manbythesea

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Sorry to be pedantic but Paddy is rewriting history here. After 26 games in 2013-14 we had 25 points and this put us 1 point clear of the relegation zone in 17th place. Hardly "comfortably clear of rivals in greater peril". If anyone at the club was feeling complacent at that stage there is little wonder that we were relegated - did Russell Martin really say this stuff?

    Report this comment

    MartinL

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • I would love just one article based on what Russell Martin actually does, rather than what he says he is going to do. Something along the lines of Norwich go two-up against West Ham and then Martin is outstanding in marshalling his defence to survive a 20-minute onslaught. From what he keeps saying over and over that is surely something we could expect. For goodness sake. Put up or shut up Mr. Martin and give your armband to someone who deserves it [mmm that's another whole story]

    Report this comment

    Erpingham Tractor

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Paddy, I'm afraid that you are not really emphasising enough what a tall order it will be to stay up . Unless we get something v Leicester or Chelsea, then we have to win at least every other game in that spell between Mar 5 and Apr 23. Almost as many wins in that 6 week spell as we've managed all season. As Leicester proved last season , it is not impossible, but , frankly, I just do not see us keeping enough clean sheets for it to be a go-er. Time will tell. Of course posts like this will be howled down as 'negative' by the rose tinted brigade who infest this and other message boards . Dingo makes a very good point about these people who all seem to live in a parallel universe, but I think there are enough of us realists about to carry the day.

    Report this comment

    Rick

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Good shout MB re RM moving on. I also agree that if we go down, let's have a 'fire sale' of the defenders who've cost us so many points over the last few seasons and bring in some of our youngsters - especially 'Arry.

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    Mr Ed

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Just what I keep saying RM is the problem Klose still new to the prem pace..Brady higher up the pitch.Tettey still suspended Bamford needs a chance but its all very eleventh hour. Twelve games Leicester sat Chelsea home on tuesday then Swansea away...hmmm points? Its all to play for

    Report this comment

    johnty

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Hi, Uncle Stew. Love to Pa. Custard's a defeatist I suspect it's a Troll from under the Orwell Bridge. On topic; it seems Captain Ordinary has exposed himself for the complacent time-server he is. Time to go, Russy. Peterborough? Wycombe...

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Our squad talk a good game, but when it comes to match day the defending is so poor they lose heavily, concede straight after half time or right at the start of the game, or lose a lead every week. Stop talking to the press and start doing it on the pitch. Talk is cheap. And as for Alex Neil offering studio analysis for two Scottish Championship games at the weekend, rather than working with his defenders on the training pitch, perhaps he's just planning for a career back in Scotland when he gets sacked in May

    Report this comment

    Colin

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • JohnnyH: certain people confuse negativity with realism. Most of them are ordinary fans like doubtless you and I, but others have hidden agendas. To be blunt most of us have known our defence is cack since the Palace game and thereby hangs the tale: set up to fail. I hope Alex Neil stays to try and get us up next time round because that fate is fast approaching. Experience and realism makes me say that, not masochistic negativity.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • What was that rejected for??? OK - we have imploded early this time. End of.

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    el dingo

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Get a win at Leicester and we will start believing we can stay up !! OTBC

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • They thought they were safe last time because anyone who said otherwise was shouted down for being negative, seemingly the biggest crime possible these days. Relegation and being competitive might sound good but we thought that in 1995 and 2005 and how long it take to be competitive?

    Report this comment

    JohnnyH

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • .....He could do worse than having a in depth chat with PA Snipps! ....At least he has some idea how the game works!...and he said that as from Monday he will be calling a halt to plucking pheasants¡....Any comments on that score Brew?.....

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • .....He could do worse than having a in depth chat with PA Snipps! ....At least he has some idea how the game works!...and he said that as from Monday he will be calling a halt to plucking pheasants¡....Any comments on that score Brew?.....

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • More rallying comments. We have heard enough prove it on the pitch ! All I have heard is Norwich fans saying we don't mind going down to the championship more games, more chance of winning etc. The board doesn't mind either they get parachute payments etc. So as this is the attitude of the fans and board no wonder the players aren't 2 bothered if they stay up or not they still get paid. All the ingredients of a team on the way down I fear.

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    city meister

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • We'll stay up! Alex Neil is the man for the long term.

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    DSitton1963

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Not sure why they thought they were safe last time round given the last 5 games were always likely to be 'null point'. We will know on Saturday whether the team will stay up. If there is fight and passion, whatever the result, then there is hope. If the team have a 'didn't turn up day', then forget it.

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    Surrey Canary

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • DaveG: yes, if we go down then I can see no other option for AN but to strip down the current team and re-assemble one that gives some of our best youngsters a chance, allied to a backbone of seasoned professionals.

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    malaga flier

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Whilst I don't prefer being in the Championship, frankly I won't mind . . . . .

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    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • I think it is too late this year. Can't see us getting more than 34 points which is not going to be enough. Good news though, far prefer being competitive in the Championship and might see a few of our youngsters given a chance.

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    DaveG

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

  • Needed, 18 Points by end of April. Does anyone with any responsibility at NCFC think this can be achieved? AN has not been able to create a defence capable of surviving in the Premier League. RM continues with his comments "on what we must do." He is a main part of the cause in this perilous situation. Totally unaware, out of position and easily beaten on both sides. No action has been taken this season to correct this. The signing of defenders in January has given us a promising central defender, who must wonder if he has a chance doing two CD`s jobs. why is`nt Ryan Bennett playing alongside Tim Kloser? Nothing has been learnt so far by this management team. They are inexperienced and floundering. Good luck with the 18 points by end April.

    Report this comment

    willb

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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

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