Fans and journalists alike are now able to post and comment on games as they happen on social media and decisions made by officials can be instantly dissected by the armchair fans who are able to see snippets of controversial incidents (and goals) on the plethora of sports apps.
Archives for February 2017
The money is about to run out. The excellent Mitchell Dijks is highly unlikely to be here next season, and the admirable loyalty of the Murphy brothers (particularly Jacob, who gave a fantastic radio interview yesterday) is bound to be tested in the close season. Should either brother leave, they would go with my very best wishes.
Where it fell down was the inability to find enough quality in the final third to really hurt the massed ranks of blue and when half-chances arrived they were either snatched at or Town’s keeper was up to the task, and in a game of fine margins City’s cutting edge, on the day, went AWOL.
To get turned over by the old enemy would, for many, be a blow too far, especially with it likely killing off our lingering hopes of gate-crashing the top six. Wounds that had started to heal following the mini-revival could, or probably would, be re-opened in an instant. The mood would be ugly.
I’ve read the press-conference quotes from Alex Neil and the players – full of good intent and apparent conviction and I desperately want to believe that performances and results will reflect that sense of purpose.
However deep down, I simply don’t trust the football club to deliver.
One night I got home to Blofield and had my primitive fax machine billowing all over the floor with crude Suffolk Punches strangling Canaries and words I cannot repeat. I knew the EADT would be doing the “Well Done Bryan Gunn” badge long before they published it themselves.
If we can keep Jerome, Howson and Wes healthy, add in a fit again Naismith, and Pinto we can still light up the darkest of days going forward. But with all the positive attacking potential we know the negative defensive potential that undermines it and cancels it out.
Maths isn’t the issue. The issue is form. Stepping back from the disappointment of the weekend, that’s surely open to different interpretations. Burton was another unsatisfactory day; more performances like that will clearly prove the pessimists right. And unless we improve our away record, we’ll fall short.
The season appears to have gone. The ostensibly improved run we had recently constructed showed no real signs of progress, with victories only coming at a subdued Carrow Road against relatively low-lying Wolves, Birmingham and Nottingham Forest and the solitary away win in Wales at the hands of the equally incompetent Cardiff.
New dawns have generally been the product of flat-track bullying at Carrow Road – with admittedly the odd exception – and have ended up being the false variety, with City’s away-day woes the result of an embedded inability to stand up and be counted when it really matters.
I happened to fall in with a small bunch of Mags on their way back to the train station and they were just as elated as I was. They berated Benitez for not bringing on Dwight Gayle earlier, I responded by saying I’m glad he didn’t and we should have somehow found room for Alex Pritchard in the starting line-up.
We had an exceptional run from February in 2015. However, we don’t actually need to replicate it. We finished third and but for a couple of late slips, we might well have grabbed one of the automatic spots. We were eight points clear of the team who took the last playoff place (can’t remember who that was).
Something has changed since that spell that’s still painful to even think about. Where once there was brittleness and half-heartedness, now there’s durability and fight. Belief too has been added to an armoury that was deficient in many things, and for all the technical difficulties that again revealed themselves in the centre of our back-four, there’s still heart.
I’d have liked to have seen Lafferty, Bennett and Bassong all head out with replacements coming in, but perhaps January is not the best time for that. I suspect those players, perhaps alongside Mulumbu, Whittaker and Turner, may depart in the summer irrespective of the league we find ourselves in.
It occurred to me spinning through Channel 5’s highlights, that Norwich scored half as many league goals in one afternoon as I’ve seen Boro score all season. This is my record of Boro league games attended this season: P16 W2 D7 L7 F10 A16. 4 of those 16 – 25% – finished 0-0; four more were 1-0 defeats.
While we scored five, our striker didn’t feature on the scoresheet but let’s put this firmly into perspective. Nelson Oliviera worked his butt off, linked play superbly when he could and looked every inch the five million pound striker. We also had one Cameron Jerome on the bench.
McNally had his flaws. The bizarrely announced resignation via social media aside, his decision to publicly undermine Chris Hughton through the announcement that he was searching for potential replacements was far from his finest hour. Such impetuousness is not what this club needs.
As has been pointed out by many, it’s fun to sweep aside those for whom mid-table is home but where City have fallen short this season is when going toe-to-toe with those who currently reside in the top six. That needs to change, preferably starting on Tuesday evening.
“I remember Lee Power ordering 40 vodka and oranges and bringing them to the tables; Robert Chase’s face was a picture! On some of the away trips, that bus resembled a disco on wheels at times. So yes, we enjoyed ourselves. But we were professional and we kept fit, trained hard to get the excess out of our systems.”
Whether the injection of money into football has ruined the game is another debate. What it has done has progressed the sport into an athletic pursuit. The game is tactically more intricate than many would have thought possible. The speed of the Premier League is incomparable to the old Division One in the nineties.