Brighton visit provides a good chance to get ‘new Norwich City era’ up and running
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It doesn't seem that long ago that Norwich City were going into a home match that was earmarked as vital.
In fact, that fixture was the last time the Canaries trotted out onto the Carrow Road turf on the evening of October 31. Yet just two games – and less than a month later – Neil Adams is readying his troops for another 'must-win' encounter.
Four draws out of six in front of their own fans has done little to apease the sense of growing concern about City's promotion credentials. But it's a miserable run of just two triumphs in 10, in all competitions, that has heaped more pressure on today's arrival of Brighton.
After back-to-back defeats prior to the international break which ended with a late capitulation at Nottingham Forest, Norwich appear to be heading towards a battle to avoid mid-table mediocracy. Yet boss Adams knows that two victories could catapult his club from 10th to top, if results go their way, and he's determined to add the next three points to the club's tally in Norfolk this afternoon.
City's boss said: 'We need to win games, simple as that. And that's every game, particularly after two defeats. You need to bounce back to winning ways as quickly as you possibly can.
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'We've got these two home games, I'm not looking past the first one. If and when we win that then we'll move on to Reading. The fixtures will start coming Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, and we've got to get back to doing what we do best. That's producing performances and winning games. That's down to us. We're in a similar sort of situation as we were before the Bolton game. It was a match we thought 'three points here would be ideal' and I think it's the same again this weekend.'
That night a Cameron Jerome brace sealed a 2-1 victory over Wanderers which appeared to have got the relegated Canaries' hopes of an immediate top-flight return back on track. But they've failed to build on that welcome triumph by losing back-to-back away games during a worrying period that culminated in first-team coach Mark Robson losing his job.
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That vacancy has now been filled, and explained as to why it came about, with Mike Phelan's City return lifting spirits inside and outside of the dressing room. His tenure doesn't begin until Wednesday but the news seems to have given everybody connected with the club a lift at just the right time. That feel-good factor will further continue if – as expected – City see off Sami Hyypia's Seagulls.
Adams said: 'We had a fantastic start where we were looking the part. I do have to stress in the games since then, Middlesbrough aside, we haven't been playing badly which is a pleasing thing for us.
'But it goes without saying – we have to get back to winning games and scoring goals and sticking points on the board to get that belief back that we're more than capable of getting back into the Premier League. Six points off the top, five points off second top with the best part of 30 games left. There's a long way to go but I'm not looking that far. We just need to get back to winning games because if we do I think we're capable of getting on a run.'
A run of three home clashes against Brighton, Reading and Huddersfield should present the ideal opportunity to keep the doubters at bay for a while longer. Anything less than perhaps a cautiously predicted seven-point haul will do little to quell Adams' sceptics.
But a new era during the short tenure of City's former player is here. And if the men in yellow want to show it's going to be a positive one, a victory today would be a good start.