Chris Lakey: Looks like we didn’t give Norwich City much of a chance
PUBLISHED: 17:34 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 07 December 2018
In his excellent fortnightly column, my colleague, David Hannant, looked into the history books trying to work out whether the omens are good for Norwich City to be promoted.
His evidence suggests if you are top at Christmas, then you’ll go up. David had done plenty of research and, without stating categorically that he would be watching Premier League football at Carrow Road next season, I can confirm he has been walking past my desk here at Archant Towers with an extra skip in his step.
Like me, I suspect David couldn’t tip water out of a bucket – and he wouldn’t be alone.
Don’t think I am being a bit forward here and making a terribly dangerous leap to a conclusion, but... I have been doing some research of my won and flipped back some pages to the week before the opening game of the season.
The mood at the start of August wasn’t exactly down in the dumps: after season 2017-18 City fans could only look up. It hadn’t been great, Ipswich had finished above the Canaries for the first time since Noah got his woodwork set out, and at that time, fans of every club in the land have a degree of optimism about them anyway.
But it wasn’t exactly bouncing around these parts.
We here at the Pink Un surveyed supporters and pundits – locally and nationally – trying to gauge what the new season might hold.
Now, as we prepare for the game against Bolton on Saturday on the back of an unbeaten run stretching back eight games (seven wins) it is easy to smile at what we thought back then, when the sun was beating down and we were all looking forward to the next stay-cation.
My, we were a pessimistic lot.
Before I jog your memories, it is worth making a point about Ipswich Town: the Tractorboys finished two places above City, on goal difference – the first time they had been the top club in East Anglia since the 2009-10 season, when City were in League One.
We asked the journalists from each Championship club who they thought would be promoted and who they thought would go down: Marc Iles (Bolton), Will Jackson (Hull), Danny Hall (Sheffield United), Andrew Gwilyn (Swansea) and Paul Kendrick (Wigan) all tipped Ipswich to go down. Jonathan Low, who covers Reading, tipped Ipswich to go down and Norwich to be promoted. Clever chap. No one else tipped Norwich to go up.
Like I say, I have no desire to count chickens before they hatch, but someone may have known something...
There are plenty of teams with promotion claims – but according to our local tipsters, City weren’t one of them. I hold my hands up here: of all the local tipsters, I was the most pessimistic, predicting an 11th-place finish. Our others went for eighth, ninth, ninth and 10th, while the Fan Zoners went for seventh, eighth, eighth and ninth.
No names, no pack drills.
And what of the most important people, the fans?
The survey said...
Where will City finish?
Top half: 53pc
Top two: 3pc
Bottom half: 16pc
Which signing will have the biggest influence?
Kenny McLean: 26pc
Jordan Rhodes: 26pc
Tim Krul: 17pc
Ben Marshall: 11pc
Teemu Pukki: 11pc
Emi Buendia: 4pc
Mo Leitner: 5pc
Which City youngster will shine brightest?
Ben Godfrey: 54pc
Jamal lewis: 32pc
Todd Cantwell: 11pc
Max Aarons: 3pc
Asked who will win the Championship, five per cent said Norwich. Asked who would be relegated, 30pc said Ipswich.
It all proves very little, of course. Except perhaps, that tipping is just for fun and gambling is for experts only.
My own prediction may well be correct, but the way City are playing I will be absolutely delighted to be proved wrong. Again.
Daniel Farke’s award as Championship manager of the month for November is excellent news.
He will, no doubt, share the accolade among all the playing staff – I sense he isn’t the sort to claim all the credit. And they deserve it too.
Of course, there will be those who will utter the word ‘curse’ - and actually believe there is one.
The manager of the month curse has zero foundation in truth, of course. There is no evidence to suggest it exists.
Teams win, lose or draw. And if City don’t win today, blaming it on the curse is just plain daft. And anyway, he isn’t manager, he’s head coach...
Disappointed Teemu Pukki didn’t get player of the month – that went to Tammy Abraham who, to be fair, did score four goals for Aston Villa in one game – that 5-5 draw with Forest. Pukki has been extraordinary – I remember seeing him in pre-season at King’s Lynn Town, his first time in a City shirt, and knew immediately City fans would love him.
What’s in a name?
A colleague at our sister paper in Ipswich, Stuart Watson, has been re-christened Steve – thanks to the new manager at Portman Road not realising what his name really is.
Stuart has taken it well – he changed his Twitter handle for a while and, I suspect, is getting used to the Trigger-Rodney conversations when he is pointedly referred to as Steve.
At Town’s AGM this week, Stuart sat on the press desk reporting the event, when Town’s manager, asked about his plans for January, said he wouldn’t comment because he knew media were present and he “wouldn’t tell them if it was dark outside.”
“I know Steve is sat at the back of the room with his laptop,” he said.
I remember a manager down here saying exactly the same things. He never called me Steve, but this is a family newspaper so I won’t reveal the catchy little name he once used. Anyway, true to a previous promise, I won’t mention the name Barry Lambert ...