This supporting another team lark is odd isn’t it?
Who’d have thought, in the space of two nights, we’d find reason to become massive fans of Stoke and Swansea; willing them on with almost the same passion we feel every time City take the field.
Weird, very weird… but if that’s what it takes.
Although Stoke were unable to secure the win, good old Tony and his boys at least ensured that Sunderland were unable to put clear water between themselves and City, and remained shy of the relative safety of 40 points – still work to do for the Black Cats.
So credit to the Potters (don’t you just love the way those boys knock the ball around), but their sterling efforts were trumped a night later by the heroics of our friends from the valleys.
With Michael Laudrup’s men in red giving us an opening 45 that suggested their minds were already on a faraway beach, the Yellow Army had every right to fear the worst, but their storming second-half – aided and abetted by some woeful Wigan defending – afforded us a lifeline.
Now comes the hard part.
The mathematicians amongst us have suggested a single point on Sunday may be enough, but I’d hate to think Chris Hughton would set City’s stall out for anything other than victory. It wouldn’t sit comfortably with the Yellow Army for sure if that were the case – caution playing a far too prominent role in the 2012/13 campaign.
If in going all-out for the win City end up with a point, then so be it – even if it means dusting down the prayer mats – but a tepid, cautious quest for a point that ultimately ends in defeat would merely add to the growing unrest.
While I never expected to cross paths with ‘prudence with ambition’ again – little did I realise that it would re-emerge, not in the boardroom but on the pitch – let’s at least hope it’s not a mantra that underpins Sunday’s performance; boldness and bravery surely being the order of the day with the stakes so high.
With this time of season providing ammunition aplenty for the ‘numbers’ fraternity (a point may be enough remember), the statisticians also come into their own. Unfortunately – and those of a nervous disposition should look away now – the stats ahead of Sunday make uncomfortable reading…
In West Brom’s last twelve visits to Carrow Road their record is thus… Won 5, Drawn 4, Lost 3.
Hardly a track record to send fear into Baggie hearts. Throw into the mix the obvious freedom to express that comes with their mid-table security and City have one giant obstacle to overcome if they’re to gain the ultimate prize; certainly not an ideal day to go toe-to-toe with your bogey team.
The statisticians also point to Norwich’s inability to respond when the stakes are at their highest – think Fulham 2005 and Charlton 2009 – and with the ‘king of the big occasion’ now playing his trade in the second city (to City’s recent cost) the task looks even bigger, or to coin a phrase ‘massive’.
All of which means Sunday will certainly not be for the faint-hearted and will be an occasion akin to City’s late escape in their inaugural season in the top flight, 1972/73; Dave Stringer’s winner in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace securing Division One safety in the penultimate game.
Given that the very same Mr Stringer – a former winner of the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy – was used pre-Villa as one of the ‘warm-ups’, perhaps the Club are now wishing they’d kept their powder dry for one more week; Robert Fleck also forming part of some wasted pre-match rabble-rousing.
I’ve seen or heard nothing all week to suggest that Archant are going for the clapper hat-trick, but I’m expecting there to have been a few former Player of the Season winners who have been ignoring calls beginning 01603. Equally, I’m sure the Under-18s won’t be asked to do another lap of Carrow Road with the second leg at Stamford Bridge only a day away; Cameron McGeehan and his mates, despite being fine exponents of the clapper, surely being spared the ignominy of a third outing.
When all is said and done, the occasion and the prize at the end of it should be incentive enough. No need for us all to be reminded how ‘massive’ it is; no need to rely on gimmicks to make Carrow Road a cauldron of noise; no need for a parade of City legends to whip us up into a The Price is Right type frenzy.
Trust us; we’ll do our bit. Let’s hope and pray Hughton and the players do theirs.
Never mind the danger…
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