Canaries' fate still in their own hands

It's been another dull season for Norwich fans, hasn't it? We've had, in no particular order, protests and in-fighting as the Nigel Worthington regime cam to an end; impressive victories against the likes of Birmingham and Cardiff, followed by a no-show in the derby; our new manager making comments about the fans that upset a lot of people; a brilliant 5-1 home win against Barnsley, as well as a terrible 4-1 home defeat against Burnley; a better-than usual Carling Cup run ruined by defeat at League One Port Vale; and a great four months for Robert Earnshaw.

It's been another dull season for Norwich fans, hasn't it? We've had, in no particular order, protests and in-fighting as the Nigel Worthington regime cam to an end; impressive victories against the likes of Birmingham and Cardiff, followed by a no-show in the derby; our new manager making comments about the fans that upset a lot of people; a brilliant 5-1 home win against Barnsley, as well as a terrible 4-1 home defeat against Burnley; a better-than usual Carling Cup run ruined by defeat at League One Port Vale; and a great four months for Robert Earnshaw.

You can say what you like about supporting the Canaries - and we all know how it can drive us to distraction at times - but we never seem to get the same-old, same-old down at Carra Rud.

And as we prepare for today's match against a rejuvenated Sheffield Wednesday, it's still unclear as to how this season is likely to pan out.

What is in our favour is that there are no teams head and shoulders above the rest. Last week, for example, there were four teams that could have gone top of the league - but Birmingham were the only one of the quartet to win. No one, it seems, wants to take charge of this division.


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Now that the Blues are top of the league, I fancy them to pull away. But they are still no great shakes and they might yet revert to the sort of form that prompted calls for Steve Bruce's head by some Birmingham fans earlier this season.

Derby, Burnley, Cardiff and Stoke have been early-season surprises, but it would take only a couple of defeats for any of them to find themselves back in mid-table.

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Southampton and West Brom were among my tips for the top, and although they are currently fifth and eighth respectively, a short run of good form would see them climb the table quickly.

At the bottom, meanwhile, Leeds - who always seem to be in the mire, one way or another - will be the most disappointed of the so-called 'big' teams.

But it is so tight that things are bound to move between now and May, and whether we join Birmingham in the top two, join Leeds in the bottom three or muddle along in the middle remains to be seen.

The only significant signing that Grant has been able to make so far has been the luckless Luke Chadwick (although Chadwick's record of 'Played 83 minutes, Scored one' must surely put him at the top of Norwich's all-time goal-ratio chart), and it won't be until next season that we will really be able to make a fair judgment on the new regime.

Having said that, the fact that this league is so wide open means anyone can make a push for the top. We are wallowing about in 15th place, yet we are only six points of the play-off places and, remarkably, only 11 points off the top.

Victory this afternoon is crucial, however, because although we remain within touching distance, we can't assume that the league table will remain as tight as it is for much longer.

Grant's announcement yesterday that he will be looking for four new players during the January transfer window confirms what we already knew - our current squad isn't good enough.

And that's the other reason why we need a good run of a form, starting now. If we are to attract players of the calibre to help us push for the play-offs, we need to be in a better position come January.

If we hope to persuade potential signings that they should come to Norfolk rather than go to, say, Burnley or Derby, we need to be in the top seven or eight by the turn of the year.

Anything less than that and this season will be in danger of becoming another write-off.

t I don't want this column to become a letters page, but I have had so much correspondence following my past two columns (about the no-show at Ipswich and Peter Grant's swipe at the City fans after the Hull game) that I thought I'd publish some of the reaction. It was mostly supportive - 80pc in favour, actually - but it seems I upset a few people as well. Fair enough: if I'm going to take aim at the players and the club from time to time, I must be prepared to take the flak, too.

t Your article on the Ipswich game summed up a lot of things that I think nearly everyone else has thought but yet struggled to put into words.

Paul Hargest, Ely

t Everything you said is true. Just a minor criticism - I didn't think you went far enough.

Colin Jackson, by e-mail

t I agreed with your column 100pc. It needed to be said. Let's hope the players read it and take note!

David Reeder, Poringland

t I am appalled by some of the comments in your column . . . you obviously know very little about the beautiful game. Firstly, you don't have the balls to actually name players you are criticising, and secondly you say that Adam Drury was exempt from criticism when in fact he was the worst player on the pitch [against Ipswich] by a country mile. To criticise Darren Huckerby after one poor game is ridiculous. Do you actually watch what is going on during a game?

Steve Perrett, Aylsham

t Our patience is being tested by overpaid so-called 'stars' who seem to think that as long as they promise to improve, they can play as badly as they like and everything will be all right the next game, or the one after that, or even after the transfer window opens.

Geoffrey Peck, Great Ryburgh

t For God's sake, what are you talking about? We all know the fans were a disgrace. Peter Grant has had to work with players he probably would not want to, with a few exceptions. All he is asking is for us to support the team. What's wrong with that?

Ray Boubon, Mulbarton

t Peter Grant blasted the players for an almost total non-showing of commitment and passion during the Ipswich game and I don't think anyone can dispute that. What absolutely amazed me was his attack on the Norwich fans after the Hull game. Number one priority is not to win but to entertain those poor souls who have spent hard-earned money to support their team. We are being short-changed on the entertainment front big time.

Tim Sell, Swanton Morley

t Your article sums up the way a lot of NCFC fans are feeling. As a Canaries fan working in Suffolk, the Ipswich capitulation was shocking and a kick in the teeth. I'd rather the academy kids got a chance than see a bunch of overpaid, passionless journeymen disgracing the yellow shirt.

Matt Mann, Attleborough

t The Hull match was a very poor game and a very poor performance by our players, and the worst football match I have ever been to. I found Peter Grant's comments regarding the fans absolutely disgusting, and for him to criticise the fans for his mistakes is very poor on his part.

Jonathan Parramint, near Bungay

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