Be cheerful as City leave worries behind

Peter Grant won't thank me for saying this, but we must be safe now. Tuesday night's fantastic victory over Birmingham surely ended any lingering fears we might have had about relegation.

Peter Grant won't thank me for saying this, but we must be safe now. Tuesday night's fantastic victory over Birmingham surely ended any lingering fears we might have had about relegation.

We probably need another half a dozen points to make absolutely sure, and were we to lose a couple of games on the bounce I suppose it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility that our nerves would return.

This is Norwich City I'm talking about, after all.

But the past five games have seen us make some good progress and - the Cardiff away game apart - we are now showing the kind of form that we should have been showing consistently through the season.


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I actually thought that we played better against Derby a week earlier than we did against Birmingham and, but for that wretched referee we had in the Rams match, we could easily be on 50 points by now.

But what we got against Birmingham was the steel and the resilience that Grant, right, has been demanding for so long. He has rightly criticised his players for being too soft and getting into the losing habit, but on Tuesday they delivered what he has been looking for.

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We were playing the league leaders, don't forget, and they themselves had just also played Derby - and had beaten them.

But for the second time this season, we deservedly beat the Brummies, keeping a clean sheet in the process and sending their pathetically poor away following home with nothing.

On the night, Birmingham were fairly ordinary all over pitch, and how they have managed to get to the top of the league, I'll never know.

Actually, that's not true - I do know. They are an above-average team with one or two pretty good players, and they have managed to grind out one-goal victories throughout the season (except against the mighty Canaries, of course). Derby and Wolves have done much the same thing.

In other words, to do well in this league you don't have to be that brilliant. You just need to get into the habit of grinding out narrow victories, week after week.

To be fair, that is something we have shown that we can do this season, too.

Birmingham away was 1-0. Cardiff (then flying high) at home was 1-0. Sunderland at home was 1-0. West Brom away was 1-0. And Birmingham at home on Tuesday was: 1-0.

However, whereas the likes of Wolves and Birmingham have almost turned that scoreline into an art form, we haven't been anywhere near consistent enough.

I'm sure Grant would love to see the sort of free-flowing attacking football that we saw against Derby and in the first half at Barnsley every week, as would the fans.

But we haven't been good enough defensively for most of this season, and having conceded three, four or five goals against the likes of Burney, Ipswich, Stoke, QPR and Southend, it's no wonder we've spent so much time at the wrong end of the league.

And I don't care what anyone says - this is NOT a strong division.

Competitive and fairly equal it night be, but Birmingham showed us on Tuesday night that even the top teams are nothing special.

No, it's an average division, and yet still we've struggled. Yet there are reasons to be cheerful.

Darren Huckerby is playing as well now as he did during our title season of 2003-04, and Chris Martin is one heck of a prospect. Put him alongside Robert Earnshaw next season and just watch the goals fly in.

But there's another reason to be positive. Look again at those five 1-0 wins against the division's better teams. They have all come in the Grant era.

Yes, we've had some shocking results and displays under this manager, too, but it shows that we have something to build on.

Grant - as I thought he would - is slowly but surely putting his stamp on proceedings, but it will take time.

Nigel Worthington, after all, was given hero status for stabilising the ship in the aftermath of the Bryan Hamilton fiasco, and this season it has been the same for Grant following the mess he inherited from Worthington.

At the club's annual meeting, Grant insisted that everything that has happened since October is down to him rather than his predecessor, and it's refreshing that we have a manager who doesn't try to shirk his responsibilities by finding someone else to blame.

But in the same way that he was too harsh on the fans after the Hull game, I actually think he was being too harsh on himself when he said that at the annual meeting. Sows' ears and silk purses spring to mind.

It's not his fault we are where we are. Indeed, I believe that without him we'd be even more badly off.

And perhaps if the Grant revolution had got under way a little bit sooner, as so many of us had been demanding, we would now have more to play for than simply looking forward to sending Ipswich down to League One on April 22.

t Despite the welcome revelation from Roger Munby this week that any extra money from season ticket sales would be given to Peter Grant, the fact remains that next season will be the first since 2003-04 in which we will be getting neither millions of pounds of parachute payments nor even bigger wads of cash for being in the Premiership.

But that could work in our favour, in a perverse way.

With smaller funds and tighter budgets on the horizon, there are presumably a number of players at Carrow Road who know they are going to have to work doubly hard to convince the manager that they are worth keeping.

And let's hope that that means no end-of-season tailing off.

We need to be on top form for that Ipswich game, after all.

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