Ian Clarke: Hang in there City - we'll get our mojo back

Grant Hanley was prominent again for Norwich City in a 0-0 Championship draw at Millwall

Grant Hanley was prominent again for Norwich City in a 0-0 Championship draw at Millwall - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

So is your Norwich City mug half full or half empty?

Or maybe like some fans after the Canaries went further clear at the top on Tuesday night, there's basically nothing left in your drinking vessel.

I'm no gambler but would bet the cost of watching Millwall away on iFollow, that the vast majority of supporters of other Championship clubs would snap our hands off to swap places.

Heading into our biggest game of the season at Swansea on Friday night, Daniel Farke's men sit five points ahead of our Welsh rivals.

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke during the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, LondonPicture by

Daniel Farke has plenty to ponder ahead of City's trip to South Wales on Friday.

Yes I know they have a game in hand and I'm aware that Brentford and Reading among others will be eager to hunt down the Canaries.

While I'm extolling positivity and will expand on my reasons for it shortly, there's no doubt that the last two league games  - which followed the FA Cup exit at Barnsley - have been frustrating.

Neil Warnock's Middlesborough troops came to Carrow Road at the weekend armed with a well-drilled action plan which snuffed out any chance of us seeing Farkeball in full flow.

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They clearly targeted Emi and Todd for special treatment - which worked very effectively for them.

Dan McNamara of Millwall and Dimitris Giannoulis of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championshi

Giannoulis has featured in the Canaries two goalless draws with Middlesbrough and Millwall. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

At The Den, The Lions were predictably tough, well organised and energetic. They're no mugs - particularly defensively - and there was no way they were going to roll over.

The doubters concentrate on the latest 180 minutes of firing blanks, the apparent lack of inspiration, the below par performances from some of the lads and the late substitutions from DF.

It's such a different season this year.

Goals are generally much harder to come by and City are set up in a contrasting way to two seasons ago when the opposition's net bulged much more. 

I know I may be accused of being a happy clappy, chairman of the yellow and green tinted glasses gang, but I still remain very upbeat.

Teemu Pukki is denied in the first half of Norwich City's Championship trip to Millwall

Teemu Pukki is denied in the first half of Norwich City's Championship trip to Millwall - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

We know there are always tough periods in a campaign. After those excellent wins against Cardiff and Bristol City, the mojo seems to be lacking.

However, in addition to the obvious fact about our league standing, there are lots of reasons to be cheerful.

After losing two of the campaign's first four league games, City have only been beaten twice in the next 23.

We've got more points than at the same stage two years ago and averaging more than two points per game - and Tim Krul has become the first goalkeeper in Norwich City's history to keep seven straight league clean sheets in a row.

What encourages me most is that through this little wobble, we're still picking up points - and not letting in any goals.

There's a long way to go in this campaign, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that City could set a new all-time club record for number of defeats in a season.

Two years ago we lost six - and what a fantastic achievement it would be to better that.

Having only let in 21 goals in the 27 matches so far, we've got to be in with a shout of setting another record low for goals conceded.

In that vintage 2003/4 year, the team - with the backbone of Green, Edworthy, Drury, Malky and Flem - were punctured just 39 times.

That's the lowest for a 46-game season and even in the 42-game campaign of 1971/2, the number was 36.

We have to be encouraged by the trend of not losing games while not at our best.

There have been several matches when that may have happened - but it isn't.

There's a real resolve at the back to not concede and not be beaten.

While beautifully attractive football is a delight, determination and mental strength are massively key in a long, tough season.

Let's keep reminding ourselves about the hurdles which have been overcome - and are still being faced.

A huge injury list, the impact of the positive Covid cases and not having the backing of fans are all significant.

And don't forget the way Farke and his men recovered from the hangover of relegation and that run of games which saw 10 straight defeats with one goal scored and 24 conceded.

We talk a lot about patience and as this relentless period of matches carries out, fans, players and management alike to need to hang in there.

Things will improve - and what we'd give to keep another clean sheet and extend the unbeaten run at Swansea. 

Stick with Emi

Everyone else in the world seems to have had their say about Emi  - so I will too.

There's little doubt he's the most naturally gifted player in our club.

The talent he has and the things he is able to do with a football are ridiculous.

To have gone through the summer and winter transfer windows and still have him in a yellow shirt is massive.

We're increasingly realising that to benefit from his genius, we have to be patient with his propensity to see red.

Boro clearly knew how to press his button. Keith Stroud seemed overly eager to flash the cards at him.

I fully respect Farke and his teammates who have spoken out since Saturday for backing him.

I do feel, however, that Emi should have been taken off before he gave the ref a decision to make. We'll certainly miss him over the next two games.

Bigotry must end

I can't quite believe that we are in 2021 and still having to talk about the disease of racism in football.

I shudder when I think back to those dark days in the 70s and 80s when ghastly songs rang out from the terraces and bananas were thrown at players because of the colour of their skin.

We have to take some comfort that things have moved on and when fans are allowed in grounds, incidents of racism are generally dealt with quickly, often thanks to the intervention of other supporters who call out the bigotry.

However, it's now social media which is the platform too many mindless idiots are using to target their victims.

Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford - who let's remember has become a national hero for his amazing work to fight social causes in the pandemic - talked about abuse he faced at the weekend.

Come on social media giants, you can do more to tackle this cancer. And we all have our part to play in reporting every trace of bigotry we see.


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