Ian Clarke: Stop this Norwich City season now... I want to get off!
PUBLISHED: 18:22 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 22:41 04 April 2018
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I often get accused of being an overly positive City fan.
My glasses tend to be yellow and green tinted. I don’t like to moan too much and try to avoid jumping on bandwagons of negativity.
Even in recent weeks when any chance of the play-offs disappeared into the Wensum, I have hoped for a fairly upbeat end to the campaign.
My logic was along the lines of: get a few wins, climb the table, move above the Tractor Boys, persuade some waverers in the current squad that this is a great club to be at and create a good advert for potential summer recruits.
Fear not, I’m not of all a sudden going to be one of those doom mongers who would still bleat even if the Canaries won the league, cup, Grand National, Boat Race and Eurovision Song Contest.
I do, however, now want to fast forward six weeks and for the season to end.
I don’t want Daniel Farke or Stuart Webber out. What is needed is a break, a freshen-up and a period of reflection before we go again.
It’s not just a rash knee-jerk reaction to two Easter defeats. There are lots of contributory factors.
The Fulham and QPR reversals have – in different ways – brought into sharp focus just how far we are away from where we should be.
Did anyone really expect us to beat the Cottagers? In the last 32 years, Norwich have played 81 clubs more than twice – and the lowest win ratio is against Fulham.
In 22 encounters with them, we have won only once.
The 4.5pc success rate compares with 9.7pc v Arsenal, 14.3pc against Man City and 16.7pc v Liverpool.
We weren’t that bad on Good Friday. We just weren’t good enough against genuine promotion challengers.
At Loftus Road, City were out-muscled by a team which Hucks labelled “bang average” – and their league position backs that up.
Norwich won only 26pc of aerial duels. That’s not good enough and the weakness in that department contributed to the second-half capitulation.
It’s worrying that we come second best in both trying to play attractive football and in a more traditional Championship battle.
I love a stat, and one which emerged this week has shown just how much we have relied this season on James Maddison.
The wonder boy has scored 30pc of City’s goals. Only Derby have been more reliant on one player (Vydra 31pc).
I’m not clever enough to do all the maths, but if you throw in Maddison’s assists that would shine an even brighter light on the immense impact he has had for the Canaries.
I was delighted – though not in the least surprised – that Madders was named in the Championship Team Of The Year and nominated for EA Young Player of the season.
He is starting to look tired, which is totally forgivable for a lad who has carried so much of the load and now playing international football.
Maddison is the most fouled player in the league (average of 3.7 fouls per game).
I absolutely love his joy for playing football. Will he be here next season? I can’t believe one of the big boys won’t come calling. My one hope remains that he is loaned back to give him another year of experience.
City sit in 14th place in the table, 36 points off leaders Wolves, 28 from second-placed Cardiff and a distant 11 from the play-offs.
With six games to go, can we realistically expect to pick up many more points the way we are playing? Villa, Cardiff and Preston are all in the mix for promotion/play-offs and Sunderland will be fighting for their lives. Only Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday have nothing really to play for.
Off the field, we also need a break from the increasingly nasty atmosphere which is boiling.
After the hugely positive news about the £5m bond scheme being sold out before it was released, things have turned sour.
The amount of bad feeling which has escalated this week over issues such as Wes’ testimonial, Tettey’s future and Webber’s defence of the style of football this season has bordered on the ridiculous.
The abuse people like Robin Sainty – who works relentlessly to represent supporters – has had is inexcusable.
Of course we want to debate and passion. That’s part of football. But insulting bile is bang out of order.
As we can’t shut the curtains and head to the beach, it’s all about the reaction from Daniel Farke and the players this weekend.
Please, please give us reasons to be hopeful. OTBC.
All in it together?
You have to feel sorry for Matt Jarvis.
There can be few players in Norwich City’s history who have had more misfortune with injuries.
He joined us on a permanent deal just over two years ago from West Ham after a loan spell and there was excitement about the winger, who had been a success with the Hammers following a move from Wolves which is thought to have cost close to £11m.
He also played for England but he has endured one lay-off after the next and has made just 21 appearances.
Will we ever see him play again? Only time will tell.
What is likely – if last weekend is anything to go by – is that we may well hear his voice as a radio pundit.
Good luck to him if that’s his future, but I was surprised that he was on national radio covering Ipswich at the same time City were in action at QPR.
Call me old fashioned but I would expect all players, even if they are injured, to be watching and supporting their team-mates.
Are they McMad?
Plenty of times over the years in this column I have moaned and groaned about decisions by seemingly out of touch footballing authorities.
This week my exasperation reached a new peak.
At first I thought it must be a delayed April Fool’s gag when I heard that the EFL was asking for an explanation from Accrington owner Andy Holt about him buying his players burgers after a win.
Apparently it breaches a rule in their book as it is not part of a standard contract,
Yes, it’s getting more ridiculous....
Let’s remember that Accrington are top of League Two so the gesture is hardly doing the players any harm.
There are so many countless things flawed in modern football that surely those in the corridors of power should prioritise real issues rather than pursuing a boss who has found an innovative way to motivate his lads.
Come on EFL stop making yourselves look stupid and eat some humble pie (if not a burger...).
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