I’ve had my arm twisted by the erstwhile editor Mr Waghorn to jab my keyboard for a bit longer than 140 characters a time this afternoon, so here I am talking Norwich City on MFW for the first time this season.
It’s been a while since penning a column here, so I want to reflect quickly on where we find ourselves; back in the Championship again.
OK I won’t bore you with a post-mortem that is a few months overdue, we can’t do anything about it now, move on Sam, etc etc.
But this is the second time I’ve felt we have slipped back down to the second tier in completely avoidable fashion. Surprisingly though, the pain and anger subsided quite quickly in 2014/15 as we had a great start, wobbled in the middle, and then got taken on a great journey that ended in Wembley success.
A day none of us will forget…
So in the end, I suppose I was quite thankful we got relegated because it left us with some amazing memories. Not least slapping the scum what, three times in one season? You just can’t make that stuff up. Really, that’s all we go to watch Norwich for……amazing memories.
It’s why I hitched a lift to Blackburn for a ten hour round trip the other week.
You just can’t help but allow the optimism to seep back into your yellow blood.
I’ve been happy with how we’ve started this latest Championship campaign – an all-out assault on this league is the vibe I’m getting from Alex Neil.
But I also think he’s learnt lessons along the way, and in Bennett and Klose (what a guy by the way), we have as good a centre-back pairing as anybody in this league.
In the absence of having an abundance of goalscorers around the squad this time – Jerome, Grabban, Hooper & Johnson all got double figures two years ago remember – we need to keep clean sheets to give ourselves a better chance. If you’re letting in a goal every game and relying on Jerome to convert a good percentage of chances you’re asking for trouble.
No, steady as she goes this time.
We’ve set sail at good pace and if we keep those clean sheets coming, hopefully we’ll get that marquee striker in we so desperately crave and it truly will be calm waters then.
Blackburn was a great example of how we *could* play this season. Wes and Naismith were nothing short of exquisite, as was Murphy, and with the fluidity of our attacking midfielders supporting AN Other up front we will be able to create a boatload of chances.
But yes, let’s talk about Ipswich on Sunday.
I honestly would take a draw. A boring 0-0, another clean sheet.
The last time we lost a derby match, I couldn’t even grow a beard and the Murphy twins were probably still swapping football stickers in the playground.
You sense after seven years and four months, it may just be ‘their turn’.
I have seen quite a few City fans express similar thoughts on Twitter this week. But all across the park Norwich are simply superior in quality to Ipswich. We have just signed Alex Pritchard for £8 million and have acquired Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 hero between the sticks.
At a glance I don’t think our Suffolk rivals have spent more than £750,000 on a player since Grant Leadbitter, in the days Roy Keane made his press conferences more entertaining than the football served up at Portman Road.
Basically, we should beat them quite comfortably; and that is what worries me.
On paper, Hoolahan should be able to skip through those blue shirts like they are no more than a dribble of water on a patch of mediocre, stale Championship-standard grass. But we know they are hurting after getting constantly humiliated by numerous City teams.
They will be wanting payback. They will be saying damn you and your fancy rotating tv screen. They’ll be begging to shout ‘what a waste of money’ at our plethora of talent as we go up against a club full of bargain bin players.
So forgive me, but I will be satisfied with a bore draw.
This time around, I almost feel like it will be good to get this one out of the way so we can focus on being ruthlessly efficient with the other mid-table teams where the drama is much lower. Birmingham, Cardiff, Wigan and Nottingham Forest are coming up, let’s keep our Suffolk friends quiet for a few months longer and get on with getting back to where a club like Norwich belong – the Premier League.
Of course, I would be delighted if Kyle Lafferty clambered off the bench to smash in an 88th minute winner.
A thumping header after elbowing his marker out of the way is how I envisage it.
We can all dream. 🙂