Why U's trip is not just another game
Steve GedgeThree words to sum up Saturday's match? We did enough. On a day when the Canaries had a far greater share of the limelight than at any other time this season - although sadly they were just shaded by the Rotherham United groundsman in some BBC circles - it wasn't the kind of swashbuckling, eye-catching display that sank Bristol Rovers; rather more of a building-block victory really, and another key foundation of our bid for promotion.Steve Gedge
Three words to sum up Saturday's match? We did enough. On a day when the Canaries had a far greater share of the limelight than at any other time this season - although sadly they were just shaded by the Rotherham United groundsman in some BBC circles - it wasn't the kind of swashbuckling, eye-catching display that sank Bristol Rovers; rather more of a building-block victory really, and another key foundation of our bid for promotion.
The weather didn't help, that's for sure, and nor did Paul Lambert being named manager of the month just before kick-off.
Consequently it was as predictable as a weather forecast beginning 'It'll be cold again tomorrow...' that the afternoon might prove a bit of a struggle.
Early on the atmosphere didn't really get going and when Grant Holt put City ahead there was a bit of a 'Here we go again' and 'It's only Exeter' air to proceedings, both on and off the pitch.
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There were moments when the spirited visitors sensed that they might be able to get something out of the game, but by the time they did trouble Fraser Forster seriously the game was already out of their reach at 2-0 down as we got our later goals at just about the right time.
Understandably perhaps, the 'just passing through' reporters who would have been looking for a game, any game, to cover might not have been too impressed with this one victory, but let's put it in context - not only is it now nine in a row at Carrow Road, but that's also 32 points we've taken from the last 12 games. Facts which those who don't come to Carrow Road would not be very aware of, possibly.
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When you're in that kind of form you're allowed slightly off-par afternoons such as Saturday.
Frankly, it was a case of one down, 21 to go. If we win 14 of those remaining 21 league fixtures we'll have at least 93 points and we should go up. There are plenty of seasons in the recent past when that would have been enough for the title, but I'll be quite happy enough to settle for second.
I couldn't really join in with the general euphoria about Leeds's dropped points to Wycombe. True, it brought us marginally closer to them, but for me the focus remains on Charlton and, to a lesser extent, Colchester. The recent weather has done us a huge favour given how the Addicks began 2010 ahead of us, but it's now very much the Canaries in the driving seat.
As long as we keep grinding out wins such as Saturday's, even if they're sometimes hard going and we need to be thankful for opponents' inability to punish our defensive failings, then that's all that matters.
On any other day other than this coming Saturday, of course.
You have to wonder whether or not it will actually go ahead, but Colchester's clueless top brass have acted so unprofessionally in recent days that I cannot think of a run-of-the-mill league fixture against anyone other than Ipswich that I have ever wanted to win as much.
I don't care about getting anywhere near the margin they managed against us back in August, I just want to see a convincing display that puts Robbie 'I will shortly be appointing a new manager who is equally if not more talented than Paul Lambert' Cowling firmly in his place.
I always used to like Colchester, having seen them quite a few times since my father lived there for a number of years, and I've even covered a couple of their games for the local press. But because of the words and deeds of their chairman I now find them annoying and deeply, deeply tiresome.
t WALSALL ALSO HAVE FOOTBALL ON THE AGENDA
Why football as we know it is dying, part 412...
It's not just because you need a foreign sugar daddy to appear to have a chance of surviving in the Premier League, or that you can appear to buy FA Cup final success without actually having the means to pay for it all a couple of years later.
Neither is it the fact that King's Lynn - though living totally beyond their means - still went bust for a sum that the average Premier League player might spend on gold-plated bathroom taps, or how Stockport appear to be in their final death throes despite a total lack of concern from their local council, footballing authorities or the wider media.
No, it's why Walsall's re-arranged game at home to Charlton - following the postponement last week which helped us go second in the table - scheduled for a week tomorrow has had to be called off. Concern about a frozen pitch? Hardly, after all, our return visit to the West Midlands tomorrow might have received a lot of early concern and attention if that was the case. Worry about away fans possibly having to make a second trip in vain? See above.
No, a statement on Walsall's website last Wednesday included this priceless gem: 'Due to issues surrounding the safety of spectators, and to comply with the club's safety certificate and licence... A four-day event, encompassing the Bonser Suite, Stadium Suite and Swifts Lounge, which the club is contractually obliged to honour, is taking place at the Banks' Stadium during the week commencing Monday, January 18.
'Initially, the club had procedures in place for the event to be condensed to the Stadium Suite and Savoy Lounge for the evening of Tuesday, January 19 in order to enable the football match to take place simultaneously. However, after lengthy consultation, these two areas must be accessible to the public throughout the entirety of the game in the event of the stadium needing to be evacuated. As the club could not meet the terms and conditions of their safety certificate, and is legally bound by the terms and conditions of the four-day event, it was with regret that a new date had to be sought.'
Brilliant. So, in other words, Walsall, a quite solvent club thanks to weekly markets and various events staged at their ground, in effect appear to have become a conference centre boasting an attached football team. The sooner we get out of this division the better...
t While we're on the subject of Walsall, who is really 100pc sure that tomorrow's game will go ahead? Why hasn't it been called off early to save everyone some last-minute bother?
And - most importantly of all - what idiot in the football hierarchy allowed this fixture to be rearranged this soon? Neither Norwich nor Walsall have any midweek fixtures lined up for the whole of March. Why not stage it then?
t MATCH-DAY HAZARDS NOT LIMITED TO ICE
So Carrow Road was one of just seven football grounds in England and Wales on Saturday able to stage a professional fixture.
And when you got inside the ground you did wonder what exactly all the fuss had been about, when you saw the sterling work of all concerned to get the game on. There was a bit of snow and slush on the ground outside, true, but nothing of which to be the slightest bit concerned.
Indeed, if the game was ever in doubt as a result of external conditions, then perhaps every shopping centre in the land should also have been shut as well, just in case someone might almost slip up. If truth be told, there are more pressing safety issues to be addressed on snow-free matchdays on Carrow Road.
Such as... if you cross from Wherry Road to the City Stand/River End corner you have to run the gauntlet of getting over a busy road with no crossing arrangements whatsoever in place. And if, as I do, you walk up Carrow Road after a game, in the direction of Thorpe Hamlet, why is some through traffic allowed to enter a road full of departing supporters? Both are real causes for concern - not to mention accidents waiting to happen.
t WALSALL TRIP FOR 4TH ROUND DAY?
If tomorrow night's re-arranged game at Walsall is postponed once again, how about this as a suggestion?
Providing Brentford either draw with Doncaster or have their third-round tie postponed, so they have to try again at Griffin Park on January 23, re-arrange the trip to Walsall for that fourth-round day when the Saddlers will be idle due to scheduled opponents Leeds still being in the FA Cup.
That way as many City travelling fans as possible will have a chance to go to the game. However, that, of course, would be far too simple, so I'll see you at the Banks' Stadium on a Thursday night in April...
t PROMOTED ALREADY
Even the supposedly impartial BBC obviously think we're going up... why else would Friday's story headlined 'Norwich bag Whitbread and Johnson' be in the Championship section of their website?