I’ll be keeping the faith at Chelsea
No wonder the grass is so green in Scotland - there're no Jocks left to walk all over it. They are all down here. But so far Peter Grant's masterplan looks like coming together well, and he is - bit by bit - building the team and the club that he wants.
No wonder the grass is so green in Scotland - there're no Jocks left to walk all over it. They are all down here.
But so far Peter Grant's masterplan looks like coming together well, and he is - bit by bit - building the team and the club that he wants.
He's only been here four months, but the Caledonian contingent has already been boosted by the arrivals of David Marshall, Mark Fotheringham, Simon Lappin and Jim Duffy as well as the return of Bryan Gunn to the training ground.
But Arsene Wenger's French revolution hasn't done too badly at Arsenal, and I can see no reason why Grant can't do the same thing here, albeit on a smaller scale.
This afternoon, of course, we'll be more interested at the goings-on at another famous London club.
The bookies certainly don't think we have much of a chance against Chelsea, and they are not often wrong. But they do get it wrong occasionally, and that should give us hope.
- 1 Norfolk pub named one of the UK's best eateries with a view
- 2 Product sold at Tesco recalled due to risk of disease-causing bacteria
- 3 'Help yourself' - farmer gives away tonnes of onions damaged by heatwave
- 4 Where you will be able to see the Red Arrows over Norfolk this week
- 5 Fire crews to remain at scene of nature reserve blaze overnight
- 6 Brother and sister found dead in home were grieving beloved father
- 7 Police catch over 20 drivers speeding in 45 minutes near fatal crash site
- 8 Norfolk village named among poshest places to live in UK
- 9 Could some Norfolk schools be set for three-day weeks?
- 10 This is when thunderstorms will hit Norfolk this week
Ladbrokes were yesterday kindly predicting that 12 - yes, 12 - Chelsea players are more likely to score first today than anyone in the Norwich team. The odds will obviously change once the line-ups are announced, but it still gives an indication of what outsiders think of our chances.
Darren Huckerby (16/1) is the most likely Norwich player to score the first goal, apparently, but a dozen Chelsea players - including the likes of John Terry, a defender for goodness' sake - have smaller odds than that.
Fine. Forget the ignorant bookmakers. With the likes of Ashley and Joe Cole and Michael Ballack missing, we'll have them on the ropes. We'll be the ones smiling come 5pm today.
Okay - maybe I'm over-egging this. It's going to be one heck of a task this afternoon and it's obviously right that Chelsea are the hot favourites.
But upsets do happen, and there is no reason why there can't be one today.
Huckerby is in his best form since our promotion season, and while the Chelsea defence is obviously stronger than the Blackpool defence we faced this week, his goals on Tuesday night would have beaten many a world-class goalkeeper.
If Jason Shackell and Dion Dublin can avoid Gary Doherty's habit of giving away free-kicks on the edge of the area, that will be a start. The last thing we need is for Frank Lampard et al to be given chances on a plate.
It remains to be seen whether or not Grant picks Lappin and Fotheringham, but they will be even more unknown to Chelsea's back-room staff then the rest of our squad, and that might give us a slight element of surprise.
Dublin's experience at the back will be as crucial to us as John Terry's leadership skills are to Chelsea, and Youssef Safri should enjoy playing his passing game, free from the kick-and-rush we so often see in the Championship.
All these players - and more - will need to be at the top of their games if we are to get anything today.For our part, there will be thousands of us there to help will them on, and don't be surprised if we out-sing the Chelsea fans for the entire 90 minutes, come what may.
There's no doubt that nine times out of 10 we would lose at Stamford Bridge. But if everyone in a yellow and green shirt hits top form this afternoon, we might have a chance.
t HUCKERBY RED MIST COULD HAVE RUINED THE DAY
Three cheers for the Blackpool fans, who made a heck of a racket all night on Tuesday. The drum no doubt helped them keep the noise going, but the use of musical instruments is not always a guarantee for a good atmosphere.
Indeed, instruments can drive you to distraction. That annoying guy from Portsmouth with the trumpet is the worst of the lot, although that blasted band that plays throughout England's games is also as irritating as hell . . .
But back to the Seaside Barmy Army. I said a couple of weeks ago that I had been impressed with them in their two-sided ground during the match at Bloomfield Park, and Tuesday night showed that they give good vocal support on their travels, too.
Assuming we don't leave this division in May, it would be good to see them back here next season. They are now my adopted team in the League One play-off race.
As for Tuesday's game, it had a remarkably exciting end - remarkable mainly in the sense that it had followed such a poor first half.
Dickson Etuhu was dreadful even by his own standards, but with Darren Huckerby in the form he's in at the moment, we were able to carry Etuhu, who must surely be replaced by Mark Fotheringham this afternoon.
But back to Huckerby. He's showing the kind of class that will see us reach safety sooner rather than later - and if only he'd been playing like this for more of the season, Grant's comments this week that promotion remains a possibility would perhaps have sounded a little bit more realistic.
Having said that, Tuesday night could so easily have turned out differently. When the referee waved play on after Huckerby was fouled early in the game, what happened next was oh so predictable.
If someone had hit the pause button and asked me what Huckerby's reaction was going to be, I'd have put a lot of money on the likelihood that Huckerby would fly in on the Blackpool defender within seconds as the red mist descended.
And so he did - and I've seen red cards shown for challenges such as the one he committed.
Not only would the Blackpool match have ended differently, he would be facing another ban. We've already got to do without him for the crucial match at Preston this coming Tuesday following his latest yellow card, but if he had picked up a red card rather than a yellow, it would have been even worse.
We would probably have lost to Blackpool, and that would have ruled out our big day out at Stamford Bridge today. Meanwhile, Huckerby would have been banned for the red card and would still be one yellow away from a further spell on the sidelines.
As it was, he stayed on the field and gave us two of the best goals seen at Carrow Road this season. In fact, the first of his brace was one of the best I have seen in the past few years - possibly since Youssef Safri's goal against Newcastle in 2004-05 - and the second was pure nonchalance, as Cliché Man who sits near me put it.
His class (not for the first time recently) shone through, and he is clearly enjoying himself at the moment.
So let's not have any more of those silly 'mad moments', Darren. We need you on the pitch, not sitting in the stands serving a suspension.