Iwan Roberts: Maybe I was hasty writing off Norwich City’s play-off hopes

Preston manager Simon Grayson has put his team into a good place in the play-off hunt.
Picture: And

Preston manager Simon Grayson has put his team into a good place in the play-off hunt. Picture: Andy Kearns/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Andy Kearns/Focus Images Limited

I said a couple of weeks ago after two very poor performances and results away at Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol City that the play-off position was now beyond Norwich City.

However, all of a sudden the gap between themselves and sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday has been cut from nine points down to just five – I get the feeling I was a bit premature with my prediction and I don't mind admitting that I might have written the club off slightly too soon.

Sheffield Wednesday are faltering and giving those teams just below them more than a glimmer of hope that they can be caught, especially as there are eight Championships games left. Wednesday have lost four of their last six games, winning just one, and, yes, typically that win came against the Canaries.

They aren't dealing with the pressure of trying to stay sixth at all well and it's opened the gate for Fulham, Norwich or Preston to leapfrog over them at the last minute.

Fulham themselves are not in good form, having won just one of their last four games and were soundly beaten by struggling Wolves at Craven Cottage last Saturday.

Out of the chasing pack of three, Preston are the form side, even though Norwich have won four points from their last two games since Alex Neil was sacked. Simon Grayson's men are in fine form and have quietly crept up the table having lost just twice in their last 15 Championship games. With two home games coming up against struggling Nottingham Forest and Bristol City they've a great chance of maintaining the good run they are on.

The first part of Norwich City's new restructuring has begun, with Steve Stone named as the new managing director. The club are now looking for a sporting director, who will then be involved in making the very important decision on who the new head coach will be. I think we all agree that these are two huge decisions and when the powers that be announce the new sporting director and head coach, hopefully they can form a good working relationship and take Norwich City back into the Premier League.

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I'm not going to speculate on who I think will be installed by the club, but I think it's right that they take as much time as they need to make the appointments to try and give themselves every opportunity of getting the right people in. With the players responding to caretaker manager Alan Irvine this will probably mean the club don't need to rush and make a decision quickly.

It's once again international weekend, which means players travelling here, there and everywhere – which managers hate – but I do think this break has come at a good time for Norwich City. With no game for a couple of weeks it will give injured players a chance to get themselves 100pc fully fit for the final push to try and win that precious play-off position.

I was so pleased for Jacob Murphy when he was called up into the England Under 21s squad earlier in the week and it's just reward for a tremendous first full season for Norwich.

He's had to be patient to get a long run in the side but has showed this season that he's now ready to take his game to the next level. He would have been welcomed into the squad by the friendly face of former Norwich youth team manager Aidy Boothroyd who's now the England Under 21s manager.

With his good friend Angus Gunn also in the squad I'm sure he will have settled down quickly and enjoyed the experience he's had this week and let's hope he plays some part in the friendly against Germany on Friday night.