This week, I’ve mostly been grumpy and sad.
Mid-life crisis? No such thing.
Stranded and dying whales on our beaches? Sad of course but part of nature’s cycle.
This is a football site, so of course the source of my vexation has been the recent downturn in the Canaries’ form.
The elation of new signings and money spent in the January window quickly dashed on the rocks of poor performances and an ever more negative goal difference.
At my age, the slings and arrows of yellow and green fortunes shouldn’t give me so much grief… but it does.
So, how to lift the mood? Thoughts of happier times?
Blimey it was only a few weeks back we triumphed at Old Trafford with that Tettey toe poke which bamboozled David de Gea and left Louis van Gaal with a face like a wet weekend in Cromer.
It was only around eight months ago, Wembley was awash with our colours and the whole of Norfolk erupted in joyous celebration.
That’s all fine and dandy, but sadly irrelevant to our current dilemma of five trouncings on the trot, the bottom three getting ever nearer and an outbreak of the jips at Colney robbing us of vital players for big games.
Health & safety need to inspect the canteen kitchen.
Happier times? With Aston Villa around the corner, I’m going to focus on the 1992-93 season. Gossy, Gunny etc.
Not because we scaled the stratosphere of the top tier back then but because that was the last time we won at Villa Park.
That’s so long ago that Ipswich were in the top flight (albeit many points and places behind us).
Times and fashions have changed greatly since then but when football is boiled down to the bare essentials, it was and still is about sticking the ball in the back of the net more times than your opponent.
Back on November 28th, 1992, that’s exactly what Norwich did – three times to boot, for a 3-2 win.
David Phillips, Darren Beckford and Daryl Sutch are names probably as foreign as Ron Ashman, Bill Punton and Jimmy Neighbour to many a City fan of a certain age.
But for those of us old enough to remember, they were the heroes of the day (Beckford? GG 😉 ). It was they who stuck the ball in the back of the Villa net.
On the touchline and in and out of the dugouts were a pair of tanned managers with nicknames which would grace the WWF ring. It was Big Ron (aka Mr. Bojangles) versus The Silver Fox.
Atkinson versus Walker – two of the old school who liked to quaff champers and fill their lungs with Havana’s finest tobacco smoke.
We all know the Walker story don’t we? I’ll assume so and focus on Big Ron.
Ron Atkinson – a burly bruiser who made his managerial mark at the Baggies, left the seat warm for Alex Ferguson (pre the Sir bit) at Old Trafford before turning up at Villa Park and later briefly warming the bench at Cloughie’s old Forest manor.
Many entertaining highlights for Ron of course but my favourite is his wrong choice of bench on his Forest debut which always brings a chortle.
‘Larger than life’ for sure although reputation sorely tarnished with badly expressed opinions overheard on air in the direction of Marcel Desailly. His punditry career disappeared faster than Usain Bolt on a hoverboard.
Back to that day in 1992 when the Fox got the better of his more illustrious counterpart and our boys triumphed in the ‘egg & cress’ kit over a fine Villa side with the likes of Ray Houghton, Paul McGrath and Dwight Yorke.
Before kick-off, City were top of the league and Villa were fourth. To those too young, yes those really were the league positions of these two teams.
What was the City secret on that day? See and hear for yourself with this appallingly edited footage and Tony Gubba commentary.
High tempo from the first whistle. Neat and accurate with the ball, hassling and harrying without it. Playing the game in Villa’s half, creating a hat full of chances and scoring more than them. Solid-ish defence – I’ll gloss over Gunny’s sack of potatoes dive for their first goal and Culverhouse’s error for their second.
It all sounds so simple does it not?
The current Villa side is a pale shadow of the one back then who went on to pip us to second spot at season end.
Remi Garde is as far removed from Big Ron as is possible. Alex Neil does not share the same hairstyle as Mike Walker.
All things considered, City badly need to win this one and get out of the sticky rut which January has brought.
I don’t expect for one minute that Alex Neil will be showing the current squad the highlights from that game of 1992, but he could do a lot worse.
Worth 11 badly chopped minutes of their time surely to highlight the essential ingredients for victory?