There is never a right or wrong time to do predictions. And maybe I’m jumping the gun a little bit here.
But after City recovered from their FA Cup exit with a convincing 3-0 win at Southend on Tuesday night, it was enough to convince me that Paul Lambert’s men will be in the top three come May.
I’ll stick my neck out and say that if they don’t make the play-offs at least then I’ll run naked through my mid Norfolk village (only about 300 people live here but you didn’t know that….).
Bouncebackability was the word famously invented by Iain Dowie, and after suffering a rare defeat at Carlisle, the Canaries showed plenty of it by getting back on track at Roots Hall.
If any doom and gloom merchants thought the 3-1 cup crash in Cumbria was a sign of things to come, they better think again because this City side are here to stay.
Lambert continues to impress on every level and before the trip to Roots Hall, the Scot claimed that great teams should be judged on the way they respond to setbacks.
And respond Norwich did, brushing aside perennial promotion contenders Southend. Shrimpers scouts had told boss Steve Tilson that the Canaries were the best side he’d seen all season and they didn’t disappoint.
With the Norfolk club now up to third in League One, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a little gap appearing between the top three and the rest – although Lee Clark’s Huddersfield could still have a say.
Leeds, for me, are gone. They might as well hand them the title now because under the wily guidance of Simon Grayson, they could smash any previous points record.
I only hear good things about ‘Larry’ and surely it won’t be long before he bags himself a Premier League job – I really think he’s that good.
But it’s the fight for second place which will prove the most exciting and City are in with a great chance. Charlton currently sit four points ahead of Lambert’s men but the Norwich squad – with its extra experience – could be too strong for the Addicks.
To be fair to them, the South Londoners have come back strong after their recent blip and I believe, like Norwich, they’ll be in the top three. Phil Parkinson was able to bring Akpo Sodje and Izale McLeod off the bench the other night – a luxury at League One level.
As for the rest, I don’t see Colchester threatening the top two. And even though attendances don’t determine league placings, they don’t deserve to with the ‘support’ they get.
Just 3,818 turned up to their recent home clash with Stockport – no wonder Lambert was keen on heading up the A140 as soon as he heard the Canaries were interested.
MK Dons are in freefall and the jury is still out on Paul Ince for me. It seems that his Blackburn experience has scarred the ‘Guv’nor’ and they will have a fight on their hands just to make the play-offs.
But looking at the others, they may just sneak into that coveted sixth place. Millwall are the only other club I can see contending and with the experience gained from last year’s play-off campaign, Kenny Jackett’s side should be strong in the second half of 2009/10.
But it’s the automatic promotion places which will be concerning the Canary nation – and if they keep heading north at the current rate, Norfolk may well be celebrating City’s return to the Championship at the first time of asking.
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