Life is a little tough for us City types right now. No doubt about it. And, as my colleague James Kent alluded to earlier, tomorrow will likely see as many eyes focused on the technical area as on the pitch.
But, having tweeted earlier of the need to put ‘political’ differences aside ahead of tomorrow’s crunch game, it may be an opportune moment to scrape together a few positives amongst the doom and gloom. And believe it or not, there are some.
A few weeks ago we gave the floor to a confirmed ‘outer’, Dave Bowers.
He provided us with a statistical analysis from which he concluded the best way forward for Norwich City FC was to wave cheerio to Chris Hughton and his team.
For the sake of balance – and in a week that has seen the clamour for change taken to a whole new level – another of our regular ‘commenters’, Russell Saunders, has provided us with some data that supports the opposite view.
Russ, in search of some evidence for the defence, has compiled a ‘mini’ Premier League comprising the bottom twelve (from Southampton downwards) based on the games those teams have played against each other.
It makes for an interesting read and, events at Fulham and Everton aside, does provide some ‘meat’ for those urging patience and restraint.
It also highlights how poor City have been against the top eight, with just one single point having been gained from those games. And if to make it worse it was earned on the season’s opening day, against Everton. Five months without even as much as a draw against the big boys is quite telling.
The flip-side of course is that we have enjoyed relative success against those around us – which certainly puts a positive spin on the likely outcome tomorrow.
Unsurprisingly, Southampton lead the mini-table but City are second with 19 points. Also on 19 points are Fulham, but City’s superior goal difference (can’t believe I’m writing that) of +4 puts us comfortably ahead of those from the Cottage.
Can you see where this is going?
Any anomalies caused by the disparity in games played (they range from 11 to 14) have been ironed out by Russ calculating ‘points per game’; City remaining in second.
All of which provides a warmish glow to City’s quest to conjure up circa 20 points from the next 18 games.
With ten of those games against our mini-league peers there is a decent argument that more of the same will be sufficient to limp to safety, although one suspects a win and a few draws will be required when locking horns with the elite to reach the magical 40 points.
In truth, what this interpretation highlights more than anything is just how nip and tuck it is in the bottom half of the Premier League. Between City and Crystal Palace there are seven places and just three points – a fair representation of the Premier League proper.
For all the fears over City’s future at the top table it is clear there is little more than a Rizla paper between the bottom eleven; every defeat likely to see City plummet, every win just as likely to see them soar. For that we need to brace ourselves.
And regardless of the rights and wrongs, and the whys and wherefores of Team Hughton the sooner the win-less run is ended the better. With tomorrow’s opponents one of only three ‘mini-league’ opponents to have beaten City what better time to get that win.
Hopefully the Carrow Road mood will be conducive to a good performance, but talk of banners and protests suggest it is unlikely to be ideal. My biggest fear however is of an early goal for the visitors – one that will turn the atmosphere as toxic as on that infamous afternoon in 2006 when Burnley were the visitors.
We can only hope the sight of Jonas Gutierres in yellow and green will lighten the mood sufficiently for the team to be afforded 100% backing in those crucial early stages. A high-octane opening with City on the front foot would be perfect and if an early goal could be chucked in for good measure that would be even better.
Is that too much to ask?
Either way I sincerely hope any discontent is put aside for 90 minutes and the team are at least given a platform on which to perform.
The time for excuses has long gone. The time to deliver is now.