As the last of 2014’s plastic wonders are plucked from the shelf to the background chimes of Slade and Wizzard, all Norfolk-inclined footy fans should keep in mind the true meaning of these coming few days.
It’s a religious occasion and as such we should all be praying that the collective gifts of the three wise men (David McNally, Neil Adams and Mike Phelan) guided by the Divine Delia result in a peaceful and contented Carrow Road stable from here on in. Once more a yellow and green star will rise in the east.
We’ve had to suffer some pretty unseasonal home turkeys – Reading, Leeds etc – which would have left even Bernard Matthews feeling queasy, not to mention the odd stuffing dished out on the road which left a nasty taste in the mouth.
The team have had a centre every bit as soft as an overcooked sprout at times but a change in ‘philosophy’ and a bit of steel seems to have been added since the arrival of the new number two to the dugout. The late point grabbed at Derby was a promising sign of a unified belief and spirit reminiscent of the Lambert era.
Adams is a babe in a man(a)ger role – leaning on his playing and coaching experience, he’s tried, tinkered and twisted formation/squad/playing style in an attempt to find who fits where and which figures factor in. To expect him to have all the answers and make all the right decisions in season one is as silly as thinking all your presents are delivered from Lapland by a raft of reindeer.
In the past couple of weeks, Neil appears to have had a light-bulb moment – a revelation from a higher power (Sir Alex via Phelan?) telling him that points are what really matter, irrelevant of how they are gained. This change of direction from the gung-ho one of earlier in the season may disappoint some fans but wins and clean sheets are hard to argue against.
That’s eight points from the last five games. The same five games I had given the manager to save his job. He’s done that but more importantly, the sense of despondency after the Brighton and Reading games has just about lifted.
We’re in touch with the play-off places if too distant for comfort from a current top three that not even a combination of Nostradamus and Mystic Meg could have foretold back in August. Three surprise packages, of which Santa himself would have been rightly proud to have delivered; with much more frugal financial resources than ourselves have blazed the trail which we now have to follow.
By some of the frenzied Canaries fans’ reactions to what have been none other than your par-for-the-course seasonal football ups and downs, you’d think we had some divine right to part the Championship asunder and stride forward unchecked to the promised Premier land. The much heralded ‘best squad’ and parachute payments seem to have led some supporters to assume that the path to the Premier League was smoothly paved for our ease of use.
Instead, a few inevitable rocks and potholes have immediately caused the Adams-bashers to veer off and cry for a new Messiah to appear in the dugout. Tony Pulis seems to have some perceived halo of attraction.
Is Pulis really the Messiah or just a very naughty long-ball boy? The High Priest of the hoof? Let’s not forget that Chris Hughton, ‘style heretic’ extraordinaire, masterminded victories from Pulis-flavoured Stoke and Palace sides in the past two seasons. Just saying.
The Championship may represent the equivalent of a plastic Christmas tree compared to the real thing offered by the Premier League with all its glitzy trimmings and shiny baubles but now is the traditional time to count your blessings (financial stability, full-houses…) and consider those less fortunate (or sensibly run) who have fallen on hard times and been cast into the lower league wilderness.
Our fixtures for the rest of the year – Millwall (h) and Reading (a) – don’t exactly set the pulse racing like a Nigella-infused Christmas pud recipe might, but while taking neither lightly, the reward of six points is within grasp if Adams and Co have done their homework, gone to bed early and not overdone the mince pies and mulled wine. For the Reading game, the chance of a quick dish of revenge is best served cold, just like the turkey leftovers.
If pushed to present a Christmas message to the fickle MyFootballWriter nation, I guess it would be something along the lines of, “Enjoy the highs for a day or so and curse the lows likewise but don’t let things simmer, bubble and boil over into personal attacks.”
To boo or not to boo? That is the question that seems to have split the crowd right down the middle. I personally don’t see the point but it’s a free county. Hopefully, the question won’t arise again this season.
Finally, I have a wish for three gifts for the rest of the season from the players/Team Adams, CEO/board and the Carrow Road faithful (in that order): Goals, frankness and sense and moar.
Have a good ‘un.