I think it would be fair to say that we’re fast approaching a very interesting point in the season.
Irrespective of events on Tyneside today when suddenly City boss Paul Lambert found himself listed among the potential runners and riders for the now-vacant hot seat at St James’ Park.
I can’t help but feeling that he’d need that job like a hole in the head; there are certain clubs under certain regimes that smell from a mile off. Newcastle is one; West Ham another.
Good men can go into both clubs and get chewed up through forces and factors not of their making. So leave well alone might be the thinking this evening.
What interests me more is where the Canaries take themselves this January; do they hit the New Year sales with a vengeance? Or do they look at the current dressing room and stick to the old adage; that if it ain’t bust, why try to fix it?
Clearly, Leon Barnett is an exception. From the tone of Lambert’s remarks the other weekend, discussions regarding a full-time switch to Norfolk look on-going.
With the word on the streets being that the manager has the green light to spend, sorting out Elliott Ward’s side-kick with a permanent Canary deal would appear to be the first place to start.
The interesting question thereafter, of course, is where or what next?
Does there actually need to be a where or what next? Does Lambert twist again in the hope that he delivers a winning card? Or does he stick in the hope that his hand is already good enough for a top six finish this season?
Where’s the chink in the armour? What’s not quite right? What needs fixing?
Every manager will always tell you that their side is forever a ‘work in progress’; it is always in a state of constant evolution; you can never afford to stand still in this game… blah, blah, blah… Which is fine; we all get that.
But, equally, what appears to be very special right now is the chemistry that Lambert and Culverhouse and Co have concocted within that dressing room.
That, for me, is something that you tinker with at your peril. In fairness to both men, thus far at least, every new arrival has worked; no-one has come in and rocked the apple cart.
You can look back over the years and see players that didn’t gel; didn’t sit easily with their team-mates. Arturo Lupoli might be one; the boys would know that he’d have been on big bucks and yet his influence was…
What’s interesting about this current set-up is that it is short on big ‘names’; if you asked a dozen Canary supporters to say who is the ‘star’ of this current team and you might get half-a-dozen answers.
Grant Holt would clearly be one; Wesley another. Chrissy Martin a third; Andrew Crofts a fourth. By and large Ward and Elliott do little wrong. So there’s a decent mix; everyone pretty much on a level.
And that can breed harmony; the little I’ve seen and spoken to Henri Lansbury, he doesn’t strike me as a David Bentley – I would be surprised if there’s any ‘Ave it!’ high-jinks to report from Colney.
And I thought the return or Owain Tudur Jones from the cold this weekend was interesting; there’s no treatment akin to that meted out to Simon Lappin to breed resentment.
And, on paper, he remains an interesting addition – or rather, re-addition – to the City squad. Fitness is clearly the biggest chink in his armour.
But much was expected of him at Swansea; he has that tall, rangy physique that you’d look for in the Championship. And he’s led sides before; there’s a character there.
So, in a way, he’s a fresh body that comes from within the dressing room; you’re not imposing something new and threatening on the boys; they ‘get’ Owain.
And the point remains: where exactly would you strengthen to make City the ‘finished’ promotion article this spring?
Is it more goals that are going to see them home? A second striker to slam in alongside skipper Holt at the expense of both a Martin and a Jackson? Is that City’s weak link?
Lansbury has clearly added something more to that Canary midfield, but in the unlikely event that he’s a full-time target for Lambert, I would have thought that his current crop of midfield options – on current form – should see him go close.
A third centre-half? Another left-back? A new keeper?
I’m not sure this is a side and a squad in need of major surgery this January; it probably needs no more than the subtlest of tweaks to be there or thereabouts.
All of which will delight the men from Axa…