Shamed to say, but Stan was not among the 1,500 Canary loyalists who travelled up the country to Carlisle on Saturday.
Despite having never visited Brunton Park, it just seemed a little too far to go at this stage of the season.
Truth be told, the idea that we are actually on a winning streak and beginning to look like promotion candidates has not yet really sunk in. Carlisle away = banana skin, Stan thought – imagine the trip back with a coach/car load of fellow sufferers and not even an Ipswich defeat to cushion the blow.
As it was, of course, such reasoning proved to be very much last year’s thinking.
For City are finally doing what we all hoped they would: look too good for the third division. We have now scored more goals than anyone else in the division; take off the opening day’s ‘goals against’ and our defence is beginning to look solid even with the still obligatory enforced changes that have continued to hamper us since approximately 2004.
By all accounts, including that of Stan’s pal and ‘man-on-the-spot’, Simon ‘Brow’, this was a case of job done.
Could have scored more; overcame the odd scare; but took the points and secured another clean sheet. Top six, here we come.
All of which makes for blessed relief. Given the disappointing start to the season, not to mention our last attempt to bounce back from relegation and the three years of horror that followed it, to be in the play-off positions a quarter of the way through the season is OK.
Leeds look buoyant, but Stan wouldn’t bet against them having a little wobble at some stage (hopefully on Monday, October 19…).
Charlton, too, continue to push on – but things look fragile at The Valley. A couple of injuries and it could all get rather sticky for Parky. Indeed, Stan fears that Hoofroyd’s Colchester and the MK Dons may prove more long-term competitors for the second promotion spot than our former London role model.
Whatever, we are building up momentum and tucked neatly within the pack. The Canary awakes, and all shall fear its tweet.
But Stan shouldn’t get carried away. One of Paul Lambert’s most endearing qualities is his apparent realism.
He appears, from this distance at least, to be a man who keeps his – and his player’s – feet on the ground. His comments about Korey Smith were priceless and his man-management seems to be somewhere towards the polar opposite of Glenn Roeder.
In fact, the only similarity between the two would appear to be Lambert’s tendency to constantly make reference to our opening day defeat as against Roeder’s ‘We only had eight points in November…’ routine.
More generally, however, the way in which the young players have been brought through, the reinvention of Wes, and the winning-over of Russell, have all been carried out with much aplomb.
Slowly and steadily, Lambert has brought a sense of professionalism and solidity back to Carrow Road. And yet it is still early days…
Though our squad appears to have enough youthful talent to maintain its shape, purpose and form, the loss of more than one key player could scupper things. No doubt, too, we will lose the odd game between now and May.
But for now let us savour City’s renaissance.
In Paul Lambert we appear to have found a genuinely effective manager. We have a crop of young players growing in confidence and gaining valuable experience. We have a team of ‘us’ once more, and not a team of ‘them’.
Onwards and upwards City – and long may it continue …
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