City boss Glenn Roeder insists he will let everyone else do the sums – his thoughts this week are devoted solely to digging three, vital points out of next Saturday's home clash with Queen's Park Rangers.
In every likelihood that is 'all' it will take. Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester face eachother that afternoon. Buoyed by their away win at Barnsley this weekend, form now favours the Foxes. Defeat for Wednesday and a point for Norwich against Rangers would allow the Norfolk side to travel to Hillsborough on the final day of the season four points clear of the Owls.
Norwich draw; Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday draw and with an inferior goal difference to both, the Canaries will be left praying that West Bromwich Albion can secure their deserved place back in the Premiership with a thumping victory over Southampton at The Hawthorns on the Monday night.
With the worst goal difference of all the relegation pack, the Saints are now firmly in the firing line given that they need to prise at least a point out of the Baggies to give themselves a hope going into showdown Sunday when they entertain play-off hunting Sheffield United.
For while City's 2-1 home defeat by West Brom hardly helped calm anyone's nerves, Southampton's 1-0 home defeat by Burnley on Saturday was a disaster of the highest order. That's where the real heat is – down at St Mary's. Particularly with that TV clash at The Hawthorns next on the agenda as the Baggies prepare for the mother of all promotion parties – one more point and they are heading back to Old Trafford next season.
“I haven't even looked at it – I've only thought about one thing and that's beating QPR next week,” said Roeder after Saturday's defeat, quizzed as to whether he had a specific points total in mind.
Given the fact that Leicester can travel to West Brom and win 4-1, that Barnsley can go to Watford and win 3-0 – predictions at this stage of the season are fraught with peril.
“We're getting to the end of the season and you get mad results now,” he added. “My only focus and that of the players will be winning next week in our last home game of the season.
“And if we play like we did today and create the same number of chances, you just hope that things drop and they go in next week. But we've shown in the second-half of the season against the best teams that we can more than compete with them – and, at times, play better than them. But if you don't stick balls in the back of the net, you don't win games of football.”
That was the killer line as the Canaries, for all their possession and bright approach play orchestrated by returning skipper Mark Fotheringham, failed to make all such advantages count where it really matters – in the final third of the pitch.
Darren Huckerby slashed the best chance of the first-half wide following a perfect tee-up by Arsenal youngster Kieran Gibbs, while after the break and Jamie Cureton, Ched Evans, Dion Dublin and Jason Shackell all saw half-decent chances come and go. One half-chance falls to Baggies' star Zoltan Gera and Norwich's relegation fears are alive and kicking for at least another week – there lay the difference.
Roeder also proved, once again, that he wasn't one to shirk the big decisions team-wise – the absence of Darel Russell after what many viewed as a half-decent game in the misery that was last weekend's trip to Portman Road raised many an eyebrow; Gibbs' re-appearance on the left-hand side of midfield as Huckerby headed wide right was another designed to catch all concerned on the hop.
But for Huckerby's slashed finish the Arsenal youngster might have emerged from the game with a big assist to his name.
“He did very well,” said Roeder. “He's 18-years-old and it's a massive game. But he's a good footballer and I would have liked to have played him more. But for different reasons I haven't.
“But he's going to have a good career. All he lacks at the moment is that – at 18-years-old – he's not particularly strong. If he has the right weights programme over the next 18 months then, in my opinion, if he develops that strength with a weights programme and natural development as he gets older, then he's a hell of a player.
“He's got a lovely left foot; he's got an eye for a pass; he's a classy footballer. And I'm not surprised that he's an Arsenal player.”
Russell's omission was the surprise. “I don't think he's been at his best recently and it wouldn't do him any harm sitting one out,” explained the Canary chief, expected to have on-loan Chelsea full-back Ryan Bertrand back at his disposal again after missing this weekend's game with a slight hamstring strain.
“We'll see how everyone trains this week and then we'll make a decision on the starting line-up for next Saturday.”
As for the referee, Mr Williamson, on the back of Roeder's on-going run-in with Andy D'Urso the City chief did not want to go there. It wasn't the greatest game the official will ever enjoy – he needed a distant linesman to point out Leon Barnett's 74th minute handball that gave Norwich a lifeline via Evans' coolly-taken penalty.
“I don't even want to talk about referees – I've just wasted enough times saying that sentence. But he was as bad for us as he was for them. Tony Mowbray was going crackers about him, so I'll let Tony do the talking.”
But would it be a failure, by his standards, if the worse was to happen? If the Canaries were to slip up at home to Rangers and fare the worse at Hillsborough eight days later?
“I don't even think about that – it's not even worth answering that question,” was Roeder's response. “I've always been [a person] for who the glass is half full. Is there any other way to live your life? There's so many negative people in the world, isn't there?”
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