Ian Clarke: Seven reasons why Norwich City will survive in top flight
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
In my four and a half decades as a Norwich City fan, I've celebrated seven promotions.
I think there's more chance of me cementing my position as Daniel Farke's preferred choice in the Number 10 slot than the Canaries failing to make it a magic number eight.
That may be secured at around 2.15pm on Saturday without Teemu Pukki and Co pulling on their yellow and green shirts.
Even if Brentford overcome Millwall and Swansea beat Wycombe in matches which have been rearranged due to Prince Philip's funeral, victory over Bournemouth will mean the champagne corks can pop at around 9.45pm.
Should that not happen this weekend, it is only a matter of time until it does.
This promotion will be so different to any other.
When Ken Brown's boys performed miracles to come from nowhere to go up in 1982, about 10,000 of us delirious Canary fans were at Hillsborough (it was my first away day - and I thought every trip would be like it!)
- 1 Top of the Pops dancer, Octopussy star and 'Lord' settles in Norfolk
- 2 Reduce your dementia risk with 7 lifestyle changes
- 3 Woman injured by jars of sauce thrown in Sainsbury's
- 4 Wanted Norwich man arrested in north Norfolk village
- 5 Man exposed himself to three teenage girls at Morrisons
- 6 'They thought I was crazy' - New owner's lockdown pub success
- 7 BBC Springwatch films at Norfolk nature haven - with beavers
- 8 Bar splashes out £500,000 on outdoor dining area
- 9 'Vulnerable' Norfolk man missing from home
- 10 A47 tailbacks as roadworks move west near Norwich
About four times the number of City followers were at Wembley in 2015 for that unforgettable play-off win.
This time around virtually none of us will be inside Carra or any other ground when the inevitable happens.
If we go up early on Saturday, the law will prevent us doing what instinct would tell us to do and gather in large numbers to celebrate with our Canary pals.
I really hope at some point in the near future we'll have the chance to mark this incredible achievement.
Time will tell whether that will be possible.
Time will also tell whether the yellow and green yo-yo will continue - or if the boys can bury the memory of last year's miserable season and stay at football's top table.
The yellow and green tint won't be prised from my glasses, so here are seven reasons why I believe City will survive - and thrive.
1 Daniel Farke - The gaffer would be the first to say it's so much more than being about him. Of course, it's the players on the pitch who have rattled up an amazing 90 points already. Stuart Webber has played a huge part, as have countless others behind the scenes. But for me, Farke has developed incredibly as a head coach and what he has learned will mean he is so much better equipped to lead the charge.
2 Momentum - If you think the foot will come off the gas after promotion is sealed and the non-stop partying begins until May, think again. Everyone will be desperate to win the title, get over the 100 points mark and keep the relentless momentum up. And with that bounce continuing over the summer, it will put us in the best possible position to start the new campaign on a high.
3 Better and meaner - City were very good two years ago. But the squad is much better placed this time around. It's a more complete group and the new-found defensive meanness - which sees us heading for a defensive club record - will make all the difference.
4 Money isn't everything - Get ready for Robbie Savage and his chums having a go at Norwich for "not giving it a go" and throwing tens of millions of pounds at survival. It's beginning to dawn that money isn't everything and teams which have tried blind spending don't always flourish. Yes, investment is important but City have proved it's so much more than that.
5 Rivals aren't that good - We know we'll be in a mini league next season of teams whose primary concern is to avoid the drop. The first job is to be better than three others. I really believe we'll be stronger than Watford (assuming they get the other automatic spot) and whoever else gets in through the play-offs. The likes of Newcastle, Burnley, Brighton and Southampton don't look that good to me.
6 Jingle bells, jingle bells...Don't worry, I'm not thinking about Christmas. I'm singing the old "oh what fun it is to see Norwich win away" song. City have won more games on the road than ever before already. Success on the road has been hard to come by too often for the Canaries - if this season's formula can be anything like repeated, it will make an enormous difference.
7 Sticking with us - There'll be endless talk now about who stays and which hawks will circle for our prized assets. I'm realistic enough to know we may lose one or more of City's stars - but (without any evidence) I've got a hunch that the vast majority of the squad will have the hunger to give it a real crack in the PL.
We must look after our own
If you haven't already watched it, I'd thoroughly recommend the latest All In Yellow podcast featuring Dereham's very finest, Todd Cantwell.
As someone who has followed his career very closely, it was the most open I've heard him speak about his footballing life so far - and especially about the issues he's had being a local lad.
In his interview, Todd said: "I have to have something a little bit different. Something more than what's required.
"There is a mentality, and I don't know if it's just at Norwich because I can only speak about my experiences, but it seems to me that if you're local then you have to be better than someone you could potentially sign.
"If you're a local lad and you do okay, then you're not doing very well. Whereas, if you're doing really well, then you're doing okay. That's how I feel. That might be completely biased but it's just through my experience. "
"If I was bought for £7.5m and came in, then I'd be the best thing since sliced bread. But I can be the exact same player, do the exact same things (and get viewed differently)."
I think every fan needs to look at themselves and ensure we treat our own with the real care which is needed.
Talent production line
Talking of young talent, I've been so impressed with Andrew Omobamidele's start to life in City's first team.
I'm sure I wasn't alone in being surprised that he was thrust into the fray - but it says so much about Farke's faith in young players and he has more than repaid the trust the boss has in him.
Omobamidele is calm, assured, strong, confident and fully committed.
Clearly playing in a team with so much confidence and one which looks so solid helps. However, he looks more than at home.
Omobamidele's performances at the heart of City's defence has also drawn praise from his home country, with ex-Dundalk manager Vinny Perth describing the defender as a "really, really exciting footballer" - and likening him to "a young Rio Ferdinand".
We have to be careful in building up too many expectations.
It is, though, more evidence of our brilliant youth system.