When have Norwich ever done anything the easy way? Never, right?
Countless times in the past, when things have looked good is precisely the time when it all comes crashing down. I remember after some of our wins in Europe losing to Oldham – no offence to Oldham!
When teams go top of the league, you often see them falter, mainly as it means you become a target, up there to be shot at, the team everybody wants to beat, and at the same time your players perhaps start believing their hype and stop doing the things that got them there in the first place. The human psyche is a funny old thing.
Well, buckle yourself up City fans – I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the rest of the season with many twists and turns to come. The rollercoaster of the Championship is about to get real and I’m actually really looking forward to it, but we do need some of our key players back and soon.
I was as thrilled as everybody to win the derby, but Mario Vrancic going off injured and, as a result, being out for a few weeks was a real blow.
Before that, I was devastated when Mo Leitner was injured as I felt he ran the team but I really wasn’t expecting Super Mario to fill his boots so well.
Now though, with them both out, we just don’t have anybody who can fill that role.
Both Alex Tettey and Tom Trybull are more defensive minded and very good at being so, but they just don’t have the same ability to pick a pass as Super Mario or Mo.
If we look elsewhere in the squad, I’ve seen a lot of tweets asking for Kenney McLean to be given a chance. That may be a good shout, but it would have been a brave person that played somebody untried in that position away from home. I think it may be worth giving the lad the chance though, alongside Trybull for me.
The other two options may be Marco Stieperman or Emi Buendia dropping back and Todd Cantwell or McLean taking their place in the attacking midfield three.
It will be interesting to see how Daniel Farke solves that problem. I have a feeling he’ll stick with Tettey and Trybull together until Mario or Mo are fit enough to return.
When I looked at the fixtures post-Ipswich I didn’t share the same optimism as many in the media and among many other City fans.
It looked to me like a tough game at Preston, a winnable away game against Bolton and then a very tough home game against Bristol City.
March looks like it brings some tough games too, so I’m expecting mixed results. Millwall are always unpredictable and both Swansea and Hull can be good on their day. Rotherham is a game if you want to go up you have to win, but Middlesbrough away is always a very tough game.
April, for me, though looks a much better set of fixtures with more games at home, which could be crucial. QPR and Reading should bring six points, Wigan away is winnable, Sheffield Wednesday at home should be a win, although Stoke away a few days later is a tough fixture.
Blackburn at home should be another win and may end being the game that clinches promotion! I certainly wouldn’t fancy having to head to Aston Villa away needing something from the game, that’s for sure.
Calmness will be needed. Lots of the other teams have to play each other and my head tells me that Leeds and West Brom are favourites, with Sheffield Utd looking very strong too, although the Blades are an injury to Billy Sharp away from slipping out of contention. Middleborough have been there and done it recently too.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see City drop out of the top two in late February or March, but I also believe that we can go back into it in April, so keep the faith guys and gals and Farke and the boys may just deliver us something truly special.
As if I reflect on that, it’s not something I was expecting this season so I’m both enjoying it and feeling very grateful. I have nothing but respect and admiration for what, Webber, Farke and the players have achieved.
We now have a modern, forward-thinking set up, a clear ethos and identity on the pitch and have done all of this with the kind of player turn-around the likes of which I’ve not seen before.
Add to that it’s been done with a significant transfer surplus by signing players on free transfers or cheaply and by bringing youth products through, then in many ways this season is already hugely successful.
Long may it continue!