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Ian Clarke: City must be more like Scrooge than Santa this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 12 December 2019

Daniel Farke cut a frustrated figure as City lost 2-1 to Sheffield United at Carrow Road. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Daniel Farke cut a frustrated figure as City lost 2-1 to Sheffield United at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

We're in the season of goodwill to all men, where prosperity is bestowed on others and presents are freely handed out.

That's certainly the case among Norwich City players at the moment.

The big man in red is the one who is supposed to dish out gifts - but after watching the Canaries against the reds of Southampton and Sheffield United, it's Daniel Farke's men who are taking on the role of Santa Claus as we fast approach the hectic festive period.

Let me make it clear that overall I remain proud of what has been achieved at our club in the past year or so.

To have romped to the Championship title and kept faith with the bulk of the team who took us to the Premier League is fantastic.

Farke pledged to carry on the ethos of playing expansive football among the game's elite - and we have had some real memorable moments so far this season.

But the last two defeats over the past week have driven home the reality that we face a really, really tough battle to stay in the top flight.

Football is a game of two halves, so goes the old cliche.

The Norwich players look dejected after conceding a second goal against Sheffield United 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesThe Norwich players look dejected after conceding a second goal against Sheffield United Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

That was so true at St Mary's last Wednesday and at Carrow Road on Sunday.

The problem was that we were much poorer in the first half against the Saints and second half against the Blades than we were positive in the other 45 minutes of the games.

And at crucial moments in those key games we were just far too generous.

Much of the emphasis as fans have analysed what has gone on has been on the defence.

Firstly, there is of course strong mitigation for the backline which has been so hamstrung by injuries and disruption.

Secondly, the whole team has to share responsibility for the cheapness of the goals we have leaked, especially in those last two matches.

I've sat and watched all four goals from the past week over and over again - and it's been a massively frustrating experience.

Against Southampton, a needless foul was conceded in a dangerous spot.

The flags were out in force again at Carrow Road as City hostes the Blades 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesThe flags were out in force again at Carrow Road as City hostes the Blades Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Ward-Prowse drilled in an excellent free kick and Ings bullied his way between three of our players.

The second goal came after four of our players were beaten to a nod on and Bertrand was left free to tuck home.

The recovery after the break was too little, too late.

After a positive opening 45 minutes on Sunday, we all knew that Chris Wilder would throw the sleigh and all his reindeer at us.

City switched off for that four minute period and were ridiculously full of Christmas spirit to allow two wing backs to net with a header and shot

across the goal.

That has, unfortunately, been a microcosm of too much of the campaign.

To have leaked 34 goals in 16 games is just far too many.

We have to keep an average of more than one clean sheet every eight matches.

In 12 of our games so far, we have let in two or more goals.

To expect to get three to win is just far too big an ask.

Only Southampton have conceded more and we have to remember that nine of those came in one game.

City just have to be more like Scrooge than Santa.

This Saturday is one of the very biggest tests so far.

Even on a day when Leicester are off colour and City are at their best, it will be hard.

If we are anything like as charitable as we have been, it could get unpleasantly messy at the King Power Stadium.

Dear Mr Maddison, please have pity on us this year......(maybe that's a letter I can quickly write).

As this is my last column before December 25, may I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

It's a great time to be a football fan with so many games coming in thick and fast.

We moan when we have international breaks and long periods without matches, so let's cherish this time and hope we can make the most of it.

I have been a massive fan of what has been done at Wolves and am looking forward to taking them on in NR1.

Boxing Day sees the return fixture against Aston Villa, and boy do we have something to prove against them after that horrific humbling at Carra.

Spurs on December 28 ought to be a cracker before Crystal Palace arrive to welcome in the new decade.

OTBC (that's On The Bauble City).

Time to give VAR the red card

I had promised to stop mentioning VAR, but I just can't let it go.

I was raging after the penalty debacle during the Arsenal game.

To stop all the debate about encroachment, treat spot kicks as they would be in a shoot out and when they are saved or hit the woodwork, it's a dead ball.

As if that furore wasn't enough, we had two more nonsensical moments on Sunday.

There is room for debate about whether Chris Basham should have got a red card.

The ref had a front row seat and decided it was a clear sending off. Plenty of seasoned pundits agreed.

The Stockley Park gang decided there must have been a clear and obvious error - basically massively undermining the official.

Add to the farce the fact that it took more than two minutes to decide that a goal which was "scored" after the ref had blown his whistle should not stand.

And in the midst of it, the paying fans were left totally in the dark again.

Thank you Ron

The great Ron Saunders was Norwich City manager just before I started supporting the Canaries in the mid 70s.

Over the years I have read and heard so much about him and the amazing impact he had on the players at the club during his tenure.

He will forever be known as the boss who first led Norwich into the top flight.

After seven decades in the lower leagues, it was an incredible achievement to finally get the club to English football's top table.

Saunders' team was clearly supremely fit and organised - and he led by example as the pictures of him without his shirt on clearly show!

It was with great sadness that we heard at the weekend of his passing and there was a lovely minute's applause on Sunday to say farewell.

I really hope there will be a permanent memorial of some kind to Ron and also the great Duncan Forbes.

As fans, we owe so much to both of those true legends.

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