For those amongst us who have been chomping at the bit to give Paul Lambert a piece of their mind from close quarters – regardless of how unreasonable – be prepared for a long wait…
In the absence of a local derby to look forward to, I’m guessing the first game that many looked for was Aston Villa (h), and for that particular treat we must wait until 4 May, 2013.
Even for the Yellow Army to be mobilised in the direction of the second city we have to wait until the end of October – and one suspects that by then much of the existing discontent over Lambert’s less-than-amicable departure will have subsided.
This will be especially so if Chris Hughton can inspire us to a solid start to his first Carrow Road season – fingers crossed on that one.
Quite how one can decide whether the fixture computer has been kind to us is a rather moot point – and quite why we eagerly await its publication with such anticipation is illogical isn’t it? After all, we have to play everyone home and away – what can be the issue?
Well – as always in sport – an element of it comes down to luck, I suppose.
To catch a team at the very peak of their powers, such as playing Spurs at home last Christmas, can be considered unlucky and the reverse was certainly true when we beat a Spurs side that looked a mere shadow of its former self on that glorious April afternoon in North London.
Similarly with Liverpool – it was difficult to associate the team that huffed and puffed against us back in October 2011 with the one that swept us aside so easily in the run-in.
On that basis, it’s difficult to read too much into the Premier League’s latest offering other than to conclude that we need to reach the 40-point mark before the final game of the season – only a complete masochist would want to rely on three points at the Etihad on the final day to stay up.
The season opener away at Fulham is positively mouth-watering – particularly given the huge Canary following that normally descends on West London. I’m expecting their curiously named ‘neutral area’ to be awash with yellow and green that day, making it hopefully the polar opposite of neutral.
Given our recent history at Craven Cottage, what better way to begin the Hughton era than with a win – fingers crossed again. (I can sense a first away trip for Gowers Jnr being on the cards).
Another trip to London follows a fortnight later with White Hart Lane beckoning and with Norfolk visits for QPR and West Ham either side of this trip to Spurs, we’re going to find ourselves well acquainted with those confident and chirpy geezers over the first few weeks.
The trip to North London certainly promises to be an emotional one for Hughton, as he takes his Norwich side back to familiar territory for the first time.
Similarly, a trip to Newcastle will – one suspects – evoke an equally warm response from the home faithful, all of whom appear to have warmed to the gentle but determined aura that Hughton emits.
I’m sure it won’t be too long before the resident BBC ‘experts’ inform us of the importance of the Christmas/New Year period to those hoping to either win something or survive (which is everyone) – in which case, we have a challenge on our hands.
If we assume the Christmas period to begin on the Saturday before – then a tricky looking away trip at West Brom awaits, and this is swiftly followed by two home games against the champions of Europe and the Premier League respectively.
With Chelsea being the Boxing Day visitors and Man City arriving just three days later, we can expect both games to be daunting and exhilarating in equal proportions.
New Year’s Day provides a nice convenient trip to Green Street with West Ham the hosts, and I’m sure the Yellow Army will be afforded the traditionally warm East End welcome for the first road trip of 2013.
For the hardy amongst us the trips to the far reaches of the North-East are reserved for September and March, with a hope that Newcastle and Sunderland will prove to be considerably more fruitful than in 2011/12, where we achieved precisely nil points.
Perhaps Hughton’s inside knowledge of what awaits at the Sports Direct Arena will give us a much needed edge, and the fact that he hasn’t served an apprenticeship under Martin O’Neill will see us enter the Stadium of Light free of an inferiority complex this time round.
Finally, the glamour trip to Old Trafford on 2 March gives us plenty of time to come up with a song to rival the ‘We’ve come for our scarves’ classic of 2011.
Not too long to wait now – just get this Euro lark out of the way – then bring it on!