It is a very interesting debate as to just what it will take for Norwich City Football Club to retain their Premier League status this year.
Be it in terms of points or personnel – on the field and off it – opinions are rich and varied; stick, twist and pray to whichever god you believe in are three of the more common.
Let’s get relegated and finally have some fun again is another strain to certain schools of thought. You can find evidence of all four on the comment threads right now.
Tomorrows fixture list – coinciding with the opening of the January transfer window – will merely stir the pot again.
With Norwich at Palace, West Ham at Fulham and Aston Villa at an improving Sunderland, the bottom half of the table could easily squeeze that much tighter – one point per game being matched by one point separating seven clubs.
Wrong move now – off the field or on it – could cost a board, and a club, very, very dear.
Like many, I can’t make my mind up re Chris Hughton. On balance, I think I’d stick. I’m not sure where the obvious alternative is and as limp as the Fulham home clash was, there was still spirit about the place come the visit of Manchester United. It didn’t smack of a lost dressing room.
One of the more interesting strands to the whole debate is the way that the compare and contrast with the Paul Lambert regime is starting to lose a little of its lustre as the Scot likewise finds himself mired in a God-awful relegation fight.
Narrow home defeats to Crystal Palace and chronic problems in front of goal suggests that all is not well at Villa Park. And, I suspect, will have one or two of the Midlands finest Press-wise sharpening a knife.
Lambert’s relationship with the Press Corps was never one of his strong points; relations may well be strained.
But amongst their number, there was always a case put forward that Lambert ‘got lucky’ in his time at Carrow Road. For one simple reason. Grant Holt.
Not only was the three-time City Player of the Season in his pomp goals-wise, but as a leader of men he was a real throw-back. He gave the dressing room character. By the bucket-load.
He led from the front – and by example.
And Lambert just happened to be in the right place at the right time to benefit.
For me, that hugely underplays the Scot’s abilities and that of his coaching staff.
But as we now head into the January transfer window, finding someone of such character would be my No1 priority for the five, fraught months ahead.
To pin your hopes on two, teenage starlets on either wing is a big, big ask – particularly given City’s injury run of late. And even were a Pilkington to make a return, on his previous it may yet be all-too short-lived.
They need an older head to keep their young shoulders from sagging.
Nigel Worthington’s last move in the transfer market was arguably one of his greatest – Dion Dublin had character seeping out of every pore.
Look at Fulham and Scotty Parker; West Ham and Kevin Nolan. These are the kind of players that could make all the difference over the remainder of the season.
Someone of such ilk can lift the burden of leadership off those sat in the middle of the park; you fear sometimes that at full-back Russell Martin can be too peripheral. You need a big character, slap in the middle of centre stage.
Someone who commands instant respect from young and old, home-grown and foreign.
They are a rare – and expensive – breed. And you can get it very wrong. Edgar Davids might be one example. Someone who takes your money – and barely runs.
But someone must fit the bill. Someone thirty-something with a decent engine. Who knows his way around both a Premier League pitch and, more importantly, an under pressure dressing room.
That, for me, would be where I would twist.