It is time to turn Carrow Road back into a fortress

When Leeds come here on Saturday we really have to get a much-needed convincing victory.

Not just because of the blindingly-obvious factor of three points being at stake, but rather to try to steady the flagging reputation of 'Fortress' Carrow Road.

Three defeats – and so nearly four but for the fightback against Burnley – in the first eight games and just 13 points is frankly abysmal for a club that prides itself on its home form.

Just to put it in some form of context, that's only one more than at this point in our 2008/9 relegation campaign and only one defeat fewer than the season before, when we started not so much like a train, more a stagecoach with one remaining wheel and needed the intervention of Glenn Roeder to survive.

Okay, so maybe we might just miss out on the title this season, but it's worth remembering that when we did lift it in 2003/4 we won every single one of our first eight home games.

Those days currently seem a very, very long time ago.

Good as some of this season's away displays have been we can't go on digging out victories on the road, especially since draws on our travels don't really tend to happen: I make it a grand total of six – Southampton, Yeovil, Swindon, Nottingham Forest, QPR and Reading in the last 12 months.

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It's basically win or bust, so we have to start getting into the routines of grinding out a few ugly home wins – but with two exceptions: this coming Saturday and November 28.

If ever there were times to really turn on the style it's these two fixtures.

Because it's what we've really lacked so far this season. There hasn't been one single match of which the whole 90 minutes – or even anything approaching that – have been particularly memorable.

There have certainly been parts of games which have stood out – the second-half against Burnley and the last couple of minutes versus Swansea certainly spring to mind.

But one totally dominant display with a few goals thrown in for good measure? No, it's still to come.

The closest we've come was the 3-0 victory at far-flung Bristol City which didn't have quite the same feel as it would have done had it happened at Carrow Road, and there was, you suspect, also a slight easing-off towards the end, whereas in a home game you would expect the quest for goals to go right to the final whistle.

Barnsley was a ground-out win, and while there were plenty of goals against Leicester, the fact that struggling opponents did rather be able to seem to score at will somewhat took the gloss off things.

Middlesbrough might ultimately have been a comfortable win, but three weeks on you're already struggling to remember anything about it. And the less said about the defeats the better, obviously.

No, put on two sparkling displays in these games – although I'm not greedy, I'll take just the one on November 28 if pushed – and I won't be in any way upset if City decide to send season-ticket application forms for 2011/12 out before most people even start to receive Christmas cards.

• One final point about Saturday's game – will it be the first time that all those extra seats at Carrow Road finally get filled?

Leeds sold their whole allocation – with adult prices being �33 – last month and there's no doubt that the Yorkshire club would have been one of the main names people would have been looking for when the fixture list came out, after the obvious one, that is. Now that it's become, if you like, an ordinary fixture again rather than a high-profile meeting of the division's top two, it'll be interesting to see how much higher the attendance is than last season's 25,445.


Never go back, they say, except if I was a Leeds fan I probably would.

I can only imagine how they must have been smarting after losing to a last-gasp goal in what was effectively the League One title shoot-out.

So, when they come here this Saturday will they merely be grateful to have finally escaped from their Third Division hell-hole, or will they be looking for revenge after appearing to decide that after their FA Cup victory at Old Trafford that they actually weren't all that bothered about the league title?

If it was me it would be the latter.

Whenever I go to an away game I always look around at the end of a game and think: 'If I never came here again would this be my abiding memory of this place?'

And there are certainly some places I do want to go back to right past wrongs. Top of the list remains Fulham. In a way I almost wouldn't mind if we were to be sent to Craven Cottage in the FA Cup third-round draw later this month because (a) it'd be another big-stage test for Paul Lambert, and (b) well, it could surely never be as bad as that again, could it? Surely?

And there are quite a few places at which I have unfinished business – I've never seen a City win at Derby, Stoke or Southampton, or Coventry's new ground, so these are places I'd always travel to in hope.

But, on the other hand, there are quite a few other grounds which I have good memories of – many from last season – so that I would now think: 'Do I ever want to go there again?'

How can returning to Colchester possibly hope to match last season's 5-0 rout, or another trip to Charlton ever be a patch on winning promotion at The Valley?

So perhaps the best thing we can do is forget all about last time around when it comes to Simon Grayson's team. The one thing about this Saturday's match with Leeds is that it can never live up to the spectacle and occasion of last season's encounter, if other recent 'big games' are anything to go by.

Going to Wolves the season after our play-off pairing in 2002 was a very sobering afternoon.

Seven months on, the result might have been the same – a 1-0 defeat – but it was a pretty hollow affair, frankly.

It was the same with successive trips to Crewe. The 3-1 win there in 2004 when Iwan Roberts scored twice in his final City game would certainly be in my top three favourite away days of the past decade, yet barely 18 months later our next visit to Gresty Road was a largely unsatisfying 2-1 victory which sullied the memory of that great day.

And in the same way I should never have gone back to Hillsborough after we beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 at the end of 2001, but I have, and it's the same with Turf Moor – four successive defeats and a 1pm-ish call-off have been the price to pay for 2004's entertaining 5-3 defeat of Burnley.

It does all make you wonder if we don't beat Leeds this weekend whether fate has decided that we're going to be in for an equally long run of misery to even the score.