Given that Norwich have nothing else to concentrate on but the league, perhaps we ought to do just that.
And try and find the 11 points still needed to book a place back in the big-time next season.
It is, no doubt, something that Chris Hughton and his team will have long mulled over. It would be interesting to know whether or not – even now – they are ‘ahead of schedule’ in terms of points and position; whether in the innumerable scenarios that the management team would have run through, they had their new charges six points clear of the drop zone by the middle of February.
Whether, of course, 40 points will prove to be enough is – in itself – a debate for this time of the year; the more realistic/pessimistic wing of the Canary fraternity might set themselves a 43-point bench-mark.
But, whatever. Let’s just try and work out how Norwich might get to 40 first; anything thereafter will be a bonus. A £750,000 bonus if memory serves when it comes to positional pay-outs at the end of the season.
Of the dozen fixtures remaining, there are four that leap out straight away in terms of ‘Opportunity knocks!’ encounters.
To claim them as real, ‘six-pointers’ when you are already six points clear of the drop zone is pushing it a bit, but the home games against Southampton, Reading, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are where City’s fate will be decided.
For better or worse, that’s where the hard work of the autumn needs to become the success of the spring. We can quietly forget about the winter.
Put another away, were they to lose at Old Trafford it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.
You could actually add a fifth to that list – the home clash with Swansea. For whatever reason, Norwich appear to quite enjoy themselves in that particular fixture.
So there alone are 15 potential points; let’s say two disappoint; one defeat and one draw. Ten points. It all sounds so easy on paper…
Looking at that list of games again and I imagine that there are lot worse run-ins to be found.
The last three away games – to Arsenal, Stoke and Manchester City on the final day of the season – aren’t overly-appealing, but unless United (Manchester) collapse in a total heap in the next couple of months, Norwich aren’t sailing straight into a title showdown of last season’s neck-and-neck proportions.
Wigan (a) will be one of those where the Latics know that they have to win; it will be one of their huge, ‘six-pointers’ – something that can invariably work in the opponents’ favour. Nick even a point there on their travels and City will be keeping their hosts with one foot in the Championship.
Sunderland aren’t quite in the same plight as Wigan, but you could make the same argument there – that the weight of expectation will be falling squarely on the shoulders of the home team, not the visitors.
There will, of course, be one section of support that points to City’s current run of form – especially in front of goal – and suggest that there is still a mountain left to climb between now and May.
Which is fair enough. Although the counter argument might through the two new arrivals into the mix; that Becchio has already been in the goals, while Kamara – if not an out-and-out goal-scorer – appears to bring something else, less definable to the party.
He would appear to add a touch of joy to proceedings.
He plays the game without the general, laboured world-weariness that can infect the also-rans in the English Premier League for whom reaching the finishing line can simply be a slog. On first appearance – on social media and off it – he has an exhuberance to both his play and his personality that could yet lift all concerned.
In short, I don’t have too many fears that Norwich will not be in the top flight again next season; whether they do it by a canter or a crawl, they will be back at Old Trafford again next year.
One, final point. Football has a way of delivering stories; of twisting knives. Aston Villa (h) is just one of those.
That game comes at the very point where Norwich might only need a point to secure their safety; for Villa the implications of a defeat could be a whole lot worse.
That’s the game to watch; the big date for the diary. We may yet have one more ‘cup final’ to endure before this particular season is done.