Are you sitting comfortably after Saturday? (no, me neither). In the mood for a short story? Then I’ll begin…
The Chiller at the Villa will go down in City folklore as a thoroughly put-downable script in the continuing adventures of our favourite ‘heroes’.
It was a grim and soggy tale with weak characters and a miserable ending. At least a prince and his prime minister will have enjoyed the outcome.
Following on from Away with the fairies at St. Marys, Things implode at Vicarage Road and A right pig and a poke in Stoke, the latest chapter in a catalogue of terrible away performances has seemingly brought the club and its fans to a tipping point.
Everyone and his dog has given their opinion of what needs to change and who needs to do it. Of course I think I know the answers too but really I haven’t got a clue. I’m happy to let the professionals sort it out.
I have no idea of our best line-up or formation – that’s what Alex Neil and his coaching staff get paid for.
Who can remember the ups and downs before the turn of the year, some good battling wins and looking on the up after the back-to-back victories and clean sheets?
All seems a long, long time ago in a far away land right now doesn’t it.
Of some of the more outlandish ‘advice’ offered up from Twitter-land is to sack the manager and bring in Brendan Rodgers! I think that was a serious suggestion… but it made me giggle.
For what it’s worth, my suggestion is not to sack the manager but for some brave person – perhaps Frankie McAvoy or David McNally – to have a word in his ear and advise him to go back to trusting his instincts and stick to the courage of his convictions.
All great generals take advice from their trusted charges.
What we all want to see again is the team playing as a unit with pace and passion, the basics – defending, passing, crossing and shooting – done well and some feel-good factor coming back to replace the toxic fumes which plagued the last Premier League campaign.
Our new loanee Patrick Bamford was drawn to come to Norwich for the rest of the season because of limited opportunities at Palace but more specifically because of the “total football” which he saw first-hand at Wembley.
He’s right. We did play that way but not recently. Not since Alex decided to take the fork in the road marked ‘time to adapt’.
It pains me to point towards the south coast and Eddie Howe, but after a sticky start from the Cherries (heavy defeats and knocked confidence – ring a bell?), he was faced with that same stark philosophical choice: stick to what you know and has brought success, or change to suit.
Howe stuck to his guns and has been vindicated in that decision.
From this Canary’s perch, it just feels that Alex has got over-analytical of late. He’s not become a bad manager. He is inexperienced at this level but experienced managers get teams relegated too – Steve Bruce for one.
Right now, on form, we are the worst side in the division. All of the stats say so and that’s the way it feels after making a terrible Villa side look half-decent.
All is not lost though. It felt that way over the weekend but there are plenty of points up for grabs and we have to go grab ’em. Sorry, that’s as in depth as I’m prepared to go.
It can be done and was done last season when the current league leaders were bottom into April. They trusted and stuck with the manager as we must do.
It requires sturdy characters, calm heads, strong stomachs and big b***s from here on in to avoid slipping back into the Championship crevasse.
The next chapter of the story against a very tough West Ham will go some way to revealing if Alex has managed to get everyone reading off the same page.