We proudly sing On The Ball City – but sadly we’re Off The Pace City
PUBLISHED: 18:08 01 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:08 01 March 2017
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I’ve always seen myself as a pretty positive Norwich fan.
Two weeks ago, my headline for this column was; “The smiles are back, Carrow Road is rocking again – so let’s kick on for those play-offs.”
That came after a week in which City had thrashed Nottingham Forest and shown real character in earning a draw against title favourites Newcastle.
Alex Neil’s men were third in the form table and a trip to struggling Burton was next up and then, of course the East Anglian derby,
Six points seemed a very realistic prospect and the top six was within touching distance.
Fourteen days on and we’re further from the challenging pack, the mood has changed and promotion seems a long, long way off.
This season has been all about ups and downs – with far too many lows and not enough highs.
I’m afraid that is why we face the sobering likelihood of another year in the second tier of English football.
And if things don’t go well in the next couple of weeks, we could have the first season for about a decade with nothing to play for in the final weeks of the campaign.
Of course as a dyed-in-the-wool fan, there’s nothing that would please me more than being totally wrong.
I’ll be thrilled if we romp to victory against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and then go on a run like that Martin O’Neill-inspired one which saw us get promotion in 1982.
I was at Hillsborough for my first away game 35 years ago in May when the incredible dream was achieved. Same again please!
Sadly I can’t see it happening and the last two games – against a backdrop of so many other poor results and disappointing performances this year – have highlighted just how far we are off the pace compared with our rivals.
The statistics say so much about where we are.
After Newcastle’s last gasp win on Tuesday, CIty are now 21 points off the top of the league. And to think we were among those hotly tipped to go straight up.
The table also shows we are 19 points from the relegation zone and only 10 ahead of The Tractor Boys. I have to give credit to Big Mick for all he’s done down the road but let’s face it – they are really poor.
Without Bartosz Białkowski they would probably be fighting the drop.
Yes, if the Canaries clip the Owls’ wings we could potentially be three points from the top six.
I know there’s a run of games against bottom half sides coming after that.
But also we mustn’t forget that in half the remaining matches this season, Norwich face teams in the top seven. Our record against them so far hardly gives much hope.
Of the eight matches, City haven’t won a single one and have just three points from a possible 24. Momentum is also a key factor for teams making a push for promotion.
Apart from the defeat to Burton and the derby day stalemate, City have been doing fairly well.
The team, though, has slipped down the form table and the other challengers are looking pretty strong.
The impression is that Wednesday have been doing badly. But in the last 10 games they only have one point fewer than City.
The top five have pulled well away from Norwich and apart from Reading are all higher in the form league rather than showing signs of waning.
I joined the ironic applause in the 15th minute on Sunday to mark our old rivals’ 15 years in the Championship.
It was a very funny idea from whoever thought of it.
Those fans in blue and white – who were already bemused by seeing a full ground – didn’t know how to react.
As I clapped and enjoyed the banter, part of me did think “this could be us in a few years.”
We’ve got another season of parachute cash to come, we still sell out the ground every week and we can still bring on multi-million pound subs.
That won’t last forever.
While so many of us will renew our season tickets, I’m hearing of quite a few who won’t.
Selling those lucrative corporate packages for matches probably hasn’t been that difficult for the Carrow Road marketing team during top flight seasons and years when going up has seemed very achievable.
If the Championship rot sets in, all that changes.
We have reported this earlier week how the club won’t rush into shaping things at the top following the departure of Jez Moxey.
The structure has to be right and the decisions mustn’t be rushed.
There’s a tricky balance between wanting immediate gains and long term success - and that is a challenge for those in the boardroom.
Under 23s could still provide some joy
There’s hardly bag loads of joy flying around our club at the moment.
So the 6-0 win, which saw the under-23s cruise into the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup, has to be a reason to be cheerful.
Dinamo Zagreb are a big name in European football and any victory over a team from the Croatian champions is not to be sniffed at.
Norwich did have a strong side with some senior players joining the lads and it’s the youngsters rather than the established names I want to particularly mention.
James Maddison – the player we’ve had so much hope for and yet we’ve seen so little of – continues to be a great prospect. I just want him to be given the opportunity to show us what he’s got.
As a Dereham boy, I have to give a name check to our very own Todd Cantwell.
He came on as a sub on his 19th birthday – and stroked home a penalty to get a perfect present,
Remember those lads out on loan?
I was interested to read the round-up this week of how City’s loan players are faring in the far flung corners of Britain.
Keeper Declan Rudd played for Charlton in their defeat to Bury, which means the Addicks are facing a quiet mid-table end to the season.
Harry Toffolo is currently suspended, so can’t play at the moment for Scunthorpe.
Ray Grant can’t force his way into Dagenham and Redbridge’s team and Remi Matthews was also an unused sub for Hamilton as they played runaway Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic.
Tony Andreu has a chance of Scottish Championship play-off action and he got a full game for Dundee United, although they had to settle for a draw against rivals Greenock Morton.
And Carlton Morris still hasn’t played for Rotherham as he is suffering with a hamstring injury.
Let’s hope luck improves for the lads.