Ian Clarke: ‘Ridiculous’ Norwich City are top of the league...and having a laugh
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Imagine someone telling you last summer (and actually after that home drubbing by Leeds) that during the March international break City would be four points clear at the summit of the Championship.
'Top of the league? You're having a laugh...' I'm pretty sure that would have been the answer (perhaps with more hyperbole thrown in).
As we take a breather from the relentless pace of the campaign and look down on the chasing pack it's more of a case of 'top of the league and we're having a laugh'.
I want to make it clear that I don't mean any arrogance with that comment.
We could go on a losing streak, slip out of the automatic promotion places and miss out in the play-offs (on penalties of course).
Football is an unforgiving business.
I mean whatever happens between now and early (or possibly late) May, I really am having a laugh,
- 1 M&S to close 32 stores as part of move away from town centres
- 2 Man dies of collapsed lung after 'busy' hospital meant x-ray was missed
- 3 Every household in the UK to get £400 to help with rising energy bills
- 4 Farmer says cousin's wedding venue will bring 'criminal activity'
- 5 WATCH: 'Unplayable' delivery from Suffolk bowler goes viral
- 6 Norfolk garden centre wins 27th gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show
- 7 'It is a cash cow' - vicar's warning after being slapped with parking fine
- 8 Where you can see the Red Arrows over Norfolk this weekend
- 9 Major road to close for resurfacing works costing £81,000
- 10 The best places to eat in north Norfolk according to The Good Food Guide
For me this has been the most ridiculous season I can remember.
A certain pundit once told us that 'football's a funny old game'.
The 2018-19 season for Norwich City has been that with bells on - and given us some of the most delicious football and crazy experiences of our football supporting lifetimes.
During an early morning stroll with our dog after the Rotherham win, I bumped into a fan who has seen just about everything as a Canary follower.
'Hent that bin brilliant?!' he yelled enthusiastically in his delightful Mid Norfolk accent. 'I've supported City 50 years and thass the best I've ever sin em play.'
That's quite a claim when you've watched the likes of Peters, Crook, Hucks and Wes in City shirts.
That outrageous flick from Emi Buendia against Hull plus countless fantastically worked goals have had us purring.
The style and swagger have been a joy to behold - but what makes the season so crazy is just how different things are from this time last year and what the expectation levels were before the first ball was kicked.
Think back to those rank awful games against the likes of Burton when we had the cutting edge of a broken plastic picnic knife.
Remember that forward a bit, sideways, back, sideways approach which ensured we finished 14th last May. (Yes, below Ipswich - and 39 points behind champions Wolves).
With our current haul of 78 points and eight games left, we would already have finished fifth last season.
The win at Rotherham ensured it was the first time City have won six league games in a row twice in the same season,
Having got six points from the first six games of the campaign, Daniel Farke's troops have bagged 72 from 32 (yes, a ridiculous 2.25 points per game).
There have only been two defeats in 26 league matches.
We've had mad late comebacks and broken hoodoos we assumed would never end (thanks to @ncfcnumbers for the stat that the last time City won a league game at Rotherham was the same day that Radio 1 launched.)
Remember along come Norwich...?
Being able to be beauty and the beast on different days has been fantastic.
Out-battle a bunch of big units, outfox a wily opponent while outplaying a technically gifted side isn't what we were used to doing.
As much as anything else, the unity which has been created in our club has been ridiculous.
'No better feeling.. 3 points and another step closer.. 8 games to go. That support means a lot...#allinthistogether #otbc'
So read a tweet from Tim Krul on Saturday evening.
'It's all about the team and the togetherness, the relationship we have got with the fans, you can see it.' That was Kenny McLean's verdict.
'Big big win today. Of course I would like to help the team more at the moment but we all have to see the bigger picture.' Yes, that was a tweet from Timm Klose (let's remind ourselves he's a £7.5m Swiss international who can't get in the starting line-up).
'We are a team - and that's the way it works. You can feel that we are just having fun this season.' (so says Mo Leitner, who is also warming the bench at the mo).
Farke's brilliant ritual of leading the fans with his arm waving and chants really caught the eye again after the win at the New York Stadium.
At the same time, however, my eye moved to a proper man hug of all man hugs between Klose, Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann. They really meant it.
Then you can throw in the story of Farke and the horse....you just couldn't make it up!
Of course a promotion push to football's top table is serious stuff - but let's keep enjoying this ridiculous ride.
Good luck Chris
Although Chris Hughton isn't everyone's cuppa, I really like the guy and wish him continued success at Brighton.
The Seagulls look in a good position to stay in the top flight.
Hopefully we'll see him go head to head with Mr Farke next season.
At the weekend they had an amazing fightback to snatch an FA Cup win at Millwall and line up a semi final against Man City.
What that win has done has made me turn back the clock 36 years to their last quarter final victory in the competition.
I was just a few weeks shy of becoming a teenager when a Jimmy Case goal sunk the Canaries at the old Goldstone Ground and saw Brighton through to the last four.
I still remember the fury from City fans that the striker had committed a foul before netting the winner and sending us home empty-handed.
I'm not still bitter (honestly) and hope they upset the odds and get to the final.
So close for Tim
The name Tim Krul has hardly been off the lips of City fans in the past couple of weeks.
The hairy moments against Swansea, the error which led to Hull's opening goal, Stuart Webber's declaration that he has been the club's best signing of the season and a staunch defence of him from his head coach.
The glovesman divides opinion among many supporters – I for one have been won over by him.
And he so very nearly wrote his name into Norwich City folklore on Saturday.
Unless someone tells me differently, a Canary keeper has never scored from inside his own box.
Yes, he had the assistance of a big South Yorkshire gust – but Krul was just inches away from finding the net at the New York Stadium.
I can only imagine how quickly the Rotherham keeper's heart must have been pumping as he saw the ball go over his head.
Assume that counted as a shot off target for Krul?!