Ian Clarke: Can City follow heroics of Hucks, Malky and Co?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:25 31 October 2018
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
During City’s recent fantastic run there have been lots of great stats which highlight the extent of the renaissance.
One particular fact which jumped out at me following the Brentford victory was that the last time the Canaries had more points in a league campaign after the first 15 games was back in the 2003/4 season.
Remember that campaign? Yes, of course you do. How could we forget it?! City ended nine consecutive years in the Championship by romping to the title eight points ahead of West Brom.
Nigel Worthington’s team racked up 94 points, 79 goals and conceded just 39.
Hucks laid the foundations for his legendary status and Peter Crouch shone during his loan period.
By this time in the season, Norwich had 28 points - a mere one more than the current tally.
The opening 15 matches netted eight wins, four draws and three losses - compared with eight/three/four this term.
The main reason for looking back 15 years is to stress how stability and consistency were key to the success.
If Daniel Farke’s men are going to defy the pre-season predictions and early negativity, they are features we will have to see from now until May.
The most impressive statistic of all in that fabulous year was that the back five of Robert Green, Marc Edworthy, Adam Drury, Craig Fleming and Malky Mackay plus Gary “Three Lungs” Holt in the heart of the engine room only missed nine league games between them. Yes, that was 267 appearances out of a total of 276.
Green, Flem and Holt were ever presents, Malky only had one game out and Drury/Edworthy played in all but four.
What a platform that gave the team.
When you factor in Damien Francis starting 39 of the 46 games and Hucks/Paul McVeigh both clocking up 36 appearances, there was a superb spine to the side.
This year Tim Krul and Timm Klose have played in all 15 Championship fixtures with Moritz Leitner on 14, Jamal Lewis and Alex Tettey on 13, Teemu Pukki on 12 and Max Aarons on 10.
Farke seems to be Mr Stability rather than Mr Tinkerman and I sense if his chosen lads stay fit, he’ll stick with them.
After netting a paltry five points from six games, City got 22 from the next nine.
Despite our poor recent record at Hillsborough, we have nothing to fear on Saturday.
The Owls have only won two of their seven home league games, while the Canaries have lost just once on the road in the Championship.
The next international break starts after the home tie with Millwall - and in a strange coincidence it will be almost exactly 15 years to the day from the corresponding fixture.
City won that match 3-1 against the Lions to maintain third place in the table.
A month later and a Leon McKenzie brace at Portman Road (I still sing the song!) saw the Canaries climb to the summit - a place they remained for the rest of the season.
The team won 16 of the 23 games in the second half of the season. That was some feat.
Is the class of 2018/19 capable of matching the heroics of Hucks, Malky and Co?
That squad had several huge characters, a real cohesion, momentum and flair in addition to the stability and consistency.
It’s going to be a massive ask to repeat the run of a decade and a half ago.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe said after Tuesday’s cup tie that City are “a real threat to the Championship and have a great chance of going up.”
I think there’s a real depth to the Norwich squad and Farke is clearly getting the best out of a lot of players while overseeing an infectious bond.
So many of the squad are contributing which has got to be a good sign - and just think of all those who are still to come back.
We will have dips in form - they happen in even the most successful campaign.
If we stick together and build on the momentum, who knows what could happen?
Finally, I have to give a mention to Louis Thompson.
He is such a great prospect and such a tremendous lad but has had such a terrible run of injuries.
We all had hopes that his shoulder wasn’t too bad after falling at the end of the Villa game - but news emerged after the Bournemouth match that he will need an operation so won’t be back in training for about three months.
We wish him all the very best and with his determination I’m sure he will come back from this.
City fans have certainly been divided over Tuesday’s league cup exit.
Before the game at Bournemouth, some were writing it off as a non event and actually hoping we’d lose to allow us to concentrate on the league.
Plenty of others disagreed and were eager to get into a major cup competition quarter final for only the second time in 27 years.
I was certainly in the latter camp as I always love a cup run.
The win at Cardiff in a previous round was the catalyst for the resurgence and I feel victory could have increased impetus.
What we must be positive about is how well the Canaries took on the club who are in sixth place in the top flight on their own turf.
City outplayed the Cherries for long periods, creating a string of great chances.
Should Jordan Rhodes and Teemu Pukki have come on earlier? Quite possibly.
I’m disappointed but that’s gone and now let’s see more bouncebackability.
Spencer is City’s main Mann
Saturday’s win over Brentford was not the most exciting game of football of all time.
But it’s a match that Spencer Mann will never forget.
Spencer works with my son Tom at HTB church in London and moved to this country from Chicago.
While in the States, Spencer and his cousin were keen FIFA computer game fans and decided to support the Canaries as they were impressed with the performance of the team on there.
Spencer had previously seen City play (and win) at Watford and QPR and Saturday was his first visit to Carrow Road.
He has amazing knowledge of the Canaries as well as great enthusiasm and it was great to be there with him.
My colleague Michael Bailey featured Spencer on a Facebook Live video and if you do a search on my Facebook timeline you can see it.
On the theme of Canary fans around the world, I’m preparing a feature on just that subject - so please get in touch if you are one of them.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box below for details.