Everyone will have their own memories; everyone will have different opinions as to exactly when the Canaries began to discover this momentum of their own.
That something ‘special’ was afoot.
We’ve already done 2004; ‘Top of the league at Portman Road…’ All that jazz.
After that moment, the tide always appeared to be with the Canaries; the doubts – by Norfolk’s standards – were few and far between.
Look back to two seasons earlier and that Play-Off Final run to Cardiff and it is a little harder to determine.
For me, however, it is another away trip to South Yorkshire that lingers longest in the memory – the 2-0 away win at Barnsley in the middle of April.
Paul McVeigh and David Nielsen scored the two goals; Adam was there at left-back; Darren Kenton at right-back; Flem and Malky at centre-half.
But the point is that I remember very little about the game itself; just the swaying sea of Yellow and Green that descended on Oakwell that day.
You sensed then that something was afoot. And whilst it might all have ended in tears with the penalty shoot-out at The Millennium, from the moment that coach after coach started pouring out the travelling City faithful that day you had a feeling a Force was with them.
Whether those that travelled to Bramall Lane this weekend feel the same ‘Force’ with them is for them to answer.
I can only look on from afar and wonder aloud whether Norwich’s season had started to gather that life of its own that was evident in both ‘02 and ’04.
I suspect it has – even if Paul Lambert will throw me off the highest mountain top for saying it, but there is something afoot. You can almost smell it. Just as you could in those two glory years.
For one thing, the treatment room is all but empty.
If Lambert wants all his hands on deck for the final push, he has got them.
Those that aren’t immediate to his plans have been farmed out elsewhere; if the need arises, however, then the likes of an Owain Tudur Jones or a Jens Berthel Askou could return; match sharp and ready.
He has Henri Lansbury back in the pack till the end of the season; that young man now has a clear run of games in which to make his mark. That he will play is clear; that’s why Arsene Wenger lets his boys out in the first place – on the basis that they will get games.
A fit-again Andrew Surman will be interesting; Zak Whitbread looks just the part – provided he can avoid another knock or niggle.
While the rest should be more than capable of maintaining their current levels of performances; Lambert is blessed with boys in that side that consistently deliver sevens or eights out of ten; week in, week out.
Ask any manager and they are the ones that are worth their weight in gold; a Crofts, a Martin, a Drury or a Holt.
So, famous last words, I figure on Norwich being good for a drive to the line; that they should have enough momentum in the tank to dig out another 30-odd points from their remaining games. Be there or thereabouts at least play-off wise.
Can they nick one of the two automatics?
That’s a difficult call. Because much of the above arguments could certainly be made for Cardiff City who breezed beyond the in-form Watford last weekend with ominous ease. Between Bellamy, Chopra and Bothroyd, the Bluebirds have goals to spare.
It’s whether at least two of that three can stay out of bother between now and the end of the season that will decide their fate.
Will Rangers wobble? Let that five-point lead slip?
Under any other manager and you’d say: ‘Maybe…’
With Warnock, I’m not sure. I read a piece on him the other week in which he suggested that he was finding the management game easier and easier as the years went by; he knows this division inside out; his track record would suggest that he won’t stumble.
The key – as Norwich almost discovered in 2002 – is to fly into the first week of May with belief and momentum firmly intact; to not do a Wolves and drop from a second to a third in the last ten yards.
That’s when the bubble bursts, the halo slips, the Force disappears.
Keep the same foot on the gas for the next three months and Norwich will go close. Very close. Feel free to dream the impossible dream.
You won’t be alone.
Michael D says
..and then there is Nottingham Forest, who sit astride the Championship form table right now. They would certainly feel the force is with them too! Although no-one has talked about it yet, and it is still over two months away, April is looking like a very interesting month. Before the Ipswich (A) there is a run of Swansea (A), Watford (A), and Notts Forest (H). Gain rather than lose ground on those three during that run, and then I think we all might be feeling the force… But if we don’t, then even staying in the play-off places is not a given!
No harm in dreaming – we are where we are on merit and have a great chance of getting into the playoffs now. We are unlikely to suddenly lose anyone out of the club but those around us may have players picked off before the end of the window (granted, some of them can afford to bring more in too).
I don’t see QPR running away with it but they are certainly likely to maintain their position in the top 2. Forest are making a good run and are back in the mix so the playoff places are anyone’s game at the moment.
We need to not slip up on Saturday, maintain the momentum, then show we have the quiality to dispatch Millwall next week.
I am growing in confidence that we will make top 6 but with so many teams in there at the moment, we cannot afford to slip up and I believe Lambert knows this, so he is keeping the reigns tight in terms of the mentality in the squad and the expectations of the fans.