We are about to enter the business end of the season. We’re into the last half of the campaign – twenty-one games left, ten at home, two of which are coming up in the next week and a bit.
I personally think we’re more than capable of achieving a top two finish but, as our new manager has asserted in various interviews this week, it’s primarily about improving and becoming more consistent.
The new manager couldn’t have wished for a better start after that late rally on the south coast. Especially after the ridiculous red card.
And yet it wasn’t rescinded.
Friends who attended the match informed me that it wasn’t even a yellow card offence. Yes Jonny Howson might have gone in ‘hard’ on the Bournemouth player but football is a contact sport and the ball was won!
Annoying, but we have to move on.
The next week represents a massive opportunity to get back right amongst that top six and having watched that lot down the road against the Saints I found myself a little bemused that we’re seven points behind them.
I haven’t seen any side either at Carrow Road this season or on any of my away day travels that I haven’t believed we’re better than.
Arrogance? Some will say yes, some will say no. But my point is that it is about us. It is about what we do. It always has been and it was why Neil Adams fell (or was that pushed?) on his sword. The team hadn’t been doing ‘it’ anywhere near enough.
Cardiff will be heading east with a spring in their step. Last week their owner Vincent Tan decided to change the club’s colours back to blue, which will have pleased those fans from South Wales a lot. The Bluebirds are seven points off the play-off pack and, like us, will be eyeing an assault on promotion back to the Premier League.
One thing I am really intrigued about finding out on Saturday is how Alex Neil will set the team up. I can’t imagine that too much will change after the fantastic victory against the Cherries but Mike Phelan and Gary Holt were responsible for that match so it’s not entirely implausible that Neil might want to stamp his own mark on the team.
I predict we will line up with John Ruddy in goal and a back four of Martin Olsson, Michael Turner, Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker.
With talk of Sebastien Bassong coming back into the frame the new manager could be about to spring a surprise on us, but by all accounts the Cameroonian isn’t match fit so I wouldn’t expect to see him play Saturday. But it’ll be good to have him back because when his attitude is right he is a class central defender.
I can’t see many changes in midfield after the win at Bournemouth so I would guess we’ll see Nathan Redmond on the right side of midfield and Bradley Johnson – who I must say has put in some fantastic recent performances that have helped improve the opinion I held of him – on the other side.
Some of the performances from Johno have been nothing short of magnificent; even better when you consider he has been playing out of position.
The centre of the park is where it gets interesting. With Gary Hooper and Cameron Jerome hopefully starting up front there are only two spaces to fill in midfield.
I can’t see Wes Hoolahan starting, bearing in mind his lack of game time recently and his injury before that, which means I think we’re going to see Alex Tettey and Gary O’Neil finishing off the midfield four.
But we need a twelfth man here. So let’s be having you!
The atmosphere at Dean Court was apparently fantastic with those travelling down on the day really getting behind the team. If we’re going to take one of those top two spots – which is completely achievable – we need to start vocally supporting the boys and make Carrow Road a fortress again.
If we’re drawing going into the final moments of matches or, heaven forbid, losing instead of sitting in silence or booing let’s really support the team.
I remember ‘that’ Derby match like it was yesterday. With the ball getting played into the box but not being quite able to score, chants of “Come on Norwich, come on!” rang out around Carrow Road. I truly believe that the push we gave them eventually lead to the winner.
Instead of playing the “I’ve paid and I deserve to be entertained” role of customer, let’s be supporters and back the team even if it isn’t quite going our way.
“On the Ball City…”
Follow Samir on Twitter @samir_ncfc