City boss Bryan Gunn was today busily hoping that the curse of the Manager of the Month award would come to haunt Coventry City's Chris Coleman as Norwich prepared for the first of their 12 do-or-die cup finals.
Successive 1-0 wins over Midlands rivals and title hopefuls Birmingham City and Wolves – coupled to the initial 2-2 FA Cup draw at Premiership Blackburn Rovers and this week's 1-0 replay win – have put Coleman firmly in the judges' sights.
Victory at Carrow Road this weekend would merely dot the 'i' and cross that particular 't'. Which is why Gunn was busily hoping that the Canaries could prove a large fly in that particular ointment.
“When's it announced? Next week?” said Gunn, speaking at Colney this morning. “That's a shame – because normally there's a reaction [to winning Manager of the Month]
“But it'll be deserved award should Chris get it – to beat your two local rivals and then to take the scalp of a Premiership side.”
All of which underlined the manager's message ahead of tomorrow's crucial clash; that Coventry are on a roll – and, above all, that all concerned would need to be patient if the Canaries were to bolt three, desperately-needed home points onto the one earned against Burnley last weekend.
“The fans – and the players – might need to be patient because Coventry are a dogged side – they've had these great results in February and it suggests to me that it's going to be a tough game. And whether we get an opportunity in the first minute or the 95th, players, fans, coaches will have to be patient.”
The City chief was continuing to take heart from last weekend's events – even in the fact that Clarets' striker Chris Eagles managed to blaze that last-gasp chance high, wide and horrible as opposed to banging a big, fat nail in Norwich's Championship coffin.
“We could be sat here in a very different mood had we lost that game last week,” admitted Gunn. “But we were dogged, we did creat chances – and we did hang on at the end. And maybe that's just what we needed; what we were looking for. And if we can take that into Saturday's game, then hopefully we can get something more from this one.”
He has, at least, a fully-fit squad to select from.
“Hopefully, we'll have everyone on the training pitch today – I've spoken to the physio this morning and there's not anyone queueing up outside the treatment room as we speak,” said Gunn, with both loan strikers Alan Gow and Chris Killen rejoining training yesterday after their recent bumps and bruises.
The only two, longer-term casualties are Dejan Stefanovic – now gently jogging again after last autumn's knee re-build – and Adam Drury, resting for another week or so after a reaction to his own, long-term knee injury.
With a goal on his Reserve team debut this week, ex-Essex scaffolder Cody McDonald has continued to impress. The impression remains, however, that tomorrow might be a case of all too much, too soon. But the lad's hungry – as those that have actually stepped foot out in the real world invariably are.
“I think he [McDonald] is impressing all the other lads around him with his fresh approach to it,” said Gunn, as the hunger and the desire that he personally saw in the youngster's farewell game to the Ryman Premier League and semi-pro football finds its way onto the playing fields of Colney.
“The lads are seeing it now – they're turning round and Cody's right on their heels and knocking a few of them over. And flying into goalkeepers.
“And its the freshness he brings to that; hopefully, that can rub off on the other strikers,” added Gunn, revealing that the Witham-bred hitman once caught the eye of both Ipswich Town and Queen's Park Rangers. Only now, however, has a real opportunity finally knocked.
“He was employed as a scaffolder and, yes, it's a real opportunity – and he looks like he really wants to take it,” added the City chief. “But I'm not saying that he's going to be in the team tomorrow – and I don't want to play him up too big at this moment in time.
“But he is impressing me, the coaching staff and his team-mates.”