Will Norwich City discover their X Factor or be consigned to the X Files?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Another week and two more games have passed us by and while there are more hard luck stories to add to an already encyclopaedic collection the key fact is that City have failed to pick up any points.
Like Fox Mulder in the X Files we fans want to believe, and City keep giving us just enough encouragement to continue to do so, but a return of a single point from a possible 24 is a sobering statistic.
For all the effort expended and some awful officiating a realistic assessment is that City are where they currently are because they have so rarely managed to put together 90 minutes of football of sufficient quality to remain a Premier League side.
At the King Power Stadium City's new look set-up of three centre-backs with Robbie Brady and Ivo Pinto bombing forward at every opportunity first frustrated Leicester and then started to cause them increasing discomfort and one wonders how the game might have panned out had Cameron Jerome not somehow contrived to put a free header wide when it seemed easier to score.
All in all it was a promising performance until that fatal late defensive lapse and gave some real hope for the visit of Chelsea, only for it to be dashed by yet another piece of dozy defending, a shocking error by an assistant referee and more profligacy from Jerome.
Unfortunately Jerome's performances have become something of a metaphor for City's season with plenty of effort ultimately neutralised by a lack of quality when it really matters.
We have yet to really see what Patrick Bamford can offer, but it has become abundantly clear that City have all the pieces of a quality Premier League target man, but unfortunately not in the same body.
- 1 Norfolk fish and chip shop named one of the 10 best in the UK
- 2 Vandals smash charity dinosaur trail T.rex and leave kebab in its mouth
- 3 Teenager died after choking on own vomit
- 4 Police break up rave at country park
- 5 'Disappointed and angry' - Cricket pitch repeatedly vandalised by bikers
- 6 Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries in crash with 4x4 outside village pub
- 7 Woman accused of exposing herself to boy outside Lowestoft park
- 8 5 famous faces who were born in King's Lynn
- 9 Small plates restaurant and bottle shop coming to north Norfolk town
- 10 Anger as three flights between Norwich and Amsterdam cancelled
If it were possible to merge Dieumerci Mbokani's first touch and finishing ability with Jerome's power, pace and work rate I suspect that City would by now be enjoying mid-table obscurity, notwithstanding a leaky defence.
So where do City go from here? Well, after Swansea's 2-1 win at the Emirates in midweek, they really need a result in South Wales today.
If they lose then it effectively becomes a straight battle between themselves, Newcastle and Sunderland for safety, but a win would obviously provide a huge psychological lift with those two sides still to visit Carrow Road.
City are now entering a sequence which largely pits them against lower and mid-table teams, and it was exactly that sort of run of fixtures – as well as their conversion to three at the back – which saw Leicester mount their great escape last season, so no one should be giving up hope just yet.
With Nathan Redmond at last showing signs of being the attacking weapon we all know he can be, Jonny Howson in a rich vein of form and the three centre-backs providing some insurance against the defensive shortcomings of the two wing-backs there are some grounds for optimism.
However, Alex Neil's comment that he was starting to sound like a broken record in his interview after the Chelsea game was telling in its confirmation that the same mistakes are being repeated on an all too regular basis and that has to change.
There is no doubt that City have been on the wrong end of some poor refereeing over the season, but they're not alone in that, and I'm sure that the fans of other struggling clubs would tell a similar story.
However, they are not in the relegation zone because of referees, they are there because they lack quality at both ends of the pitch.
Sympathy won't keep them in the Premier League; only results will do that, and they have to come quickly, starting today.