There have, in fairness, already been one or two occasions this season when City fans might have been forgiven for pinching themselves in disbelief – was this really happening?
But on the back of this weekend’s events, I think that moment has now truly arrived.
City are flush – with points, with ability, with promise and, above all, with money.
And all this in the space of two, short years. From away days at Yeovil to knocking on the door of a Europa Cup spot.
That might – just – be one fanciful hope too many, but to finish their first season back in the top flight of English football anywhere in the top half of the table would be an extraordinary achievement.
Even by Paul Lambert’s own, extraordinary standards.
That it is within their reach this season shouldn’t now be in doubt.
In part, I think we can thank the fixture computer for that; Norwich have much of done the hard lifting in terms of the top six (a). And, as events last time round proved, Manchester United (h) is do-able.
They are, after all, only human.
But there are other fair winds blowing Norwich in a decent direction, right now.
One is the fact that Lambert will be granted the opportunity to strengthen again come January. Nothing big or clever in that, perhaps.
But the point is that the City boss now has a transfer model that works; he knows which players thrive on centre stage – given the right opportunity to prove their teenage detractors wrong.
And, more importantly still, he knows which wage model works and which doesn’t. Sunderland’s, for example.
Because that’s the key to keeping this particular pot bubbling through the spring and beyond.
Don’t suddenly drop a ‘Big Name Charlie’ into the midst of this dressing room. Drop another ‘Pilks’ in. Or another ‘Benno…’ Bring in another one of their own.
And Lambert knows all this; he knows that it only takes one bad apple to spoil a dressing room barrel and I can’t for the life of me see him risking all for one big-money move.
Of course, it’s the strikers that cost the money and that’s where the friction would come; if Johnny X arrived on wages Y and didn’t deliver.
The bonus from Saturday was further evidence that club skipper Grant Holt can deliver goals-wise – strikes at Stamford Bridge and Anfield are something for the grandkids to treasure.
It may well be that City get to the end of the season with no, one player reaching double figures – just a whole clutch of lads on twos and threes.
Which is fine; it is all part of that obvious team spirit for the goals – and the joy – to be spread liberally through the dressing room.
Norwich aren’t a one-trick pony – which they simply cannot afford to be. In either sense of the term.
The other point is the fact that the Canaries now have a settled and familiar look to them. They have established a system that works early – they are not still fiddling in February.
They are, in short, organised.
For that, credit again Russell Martin who appears to have added a real ‘voice’ to that back-line.
And, equally, the keeper John Ruddy.
All good teams start from the back and to have a keeper who inspires such confidence amongst his team-mates as Ruddy appears to do now is a huge asset for the Norfolk club.
It is a key foundation stone for all that can now follow; Ruddy is a rock upon which Lambert can continue to build.
There are, of course, a wealth of ifs, buts and maybes that can still conspire to undermine the best-laid plans of mice and men.
Injury, as ever. But that’s interesting. Of this current team is there one player who is wholly irreplaceable? Ruddy is probably the closest on that score.
Everyone else can, by and large, find an understudy that will keep the ship sailing sweetly on.
And then there’s Lambert himself.
But with every passing performance and Anfield-esque result, why would you walk away from what you’ve got? To whom? And why?
It will have to be a very special offer from a very special club to lure Lambert away now and, right now, I can’t see that one club appearing over the horizon. Not yet.
With money in the bank, points on the door and smiles on everyone’s faces, now is the time to enjoy the best of times. And to stop pinching yourself that it is really all true….
As a far of the club for over 30 years, nothing would make me happier than to see us survive this year. But this optimism of knocking on the door of Europe and finishing in the top half needs to be kept in check.
Remember that Blackpool had the same number of points as us at this time last season.
Lets not get overexcited. Everyone needs to CALM DOWN. If we’re still in this position come February, we can start talking about top half finishes then. But not now.
This type of optimism always feels like the kiss of death to me. First things first: beat Blackburn on Saturday.
Keith B says
“But with every passing performance and Anfield-esque result, why would you walk away from what you’ve got? To whom? And why?
It will have to be a very special offer from a very special club to lure Lambert away now and, right now, I can’t see that one club appearing over the horizon. Not yet.”
For the rest of this season I agree. The problem could arise in the summer though. Let us assume that we finish around 15th without having spent megabucks. That would be very impressive, especially to someone like Everton’s owners were Moyes simply to get fed up.
But the biggest threat is surely from Spurs. If, as many predict, Redknapp becomes England manager (God help us in my view, but that’s a different issue) then I would imagine Lambert would be very high on their list as his replacement.
If he hasn’t got an escape clause in his contract in the event of an approach from specified clubs of that stature I would be very surprised.