As I write I have no idea if it will be Mike Phelan or Alex Neil or even A N other managing the team on Saturday, but either way there is a very important game to be won.
Reading was rank. Preston was pish. Will Bournemouth be better?
With the day of destiny on the Dorset coast looming large, maybe it’s time to start saying some prayers? Personally, it’s a case of five-a-day for me.
Contrasting City’s form with that of Bournemouth in the first knockings of 2015 is like comparing apples and oranges. Life at the ‘Goldsands’ is a bowl of ‘Cherries’ (unbeaten anywhere since the end of September) while the Canaries have provided a dizzying cocktail of juicy wins and tasty goal fests (raisin’ our hopes) mixed with a selection of bitter and rotten defeats (crushin’ them down again).
The FA Cup effort was frankly awful – we were left feeling melon-cholic.
The stinker at Reading was a sharp reminder that to get anywhere near the top two places, consistency is the key. Despite Bradley’s peach of a goal, it was a shocker of a performance that formed a right prickly pair of defeats within the space of a month to one of the division’s less fancied varieties.
Maybe it was that plum-infused away kit to blame? Not aired since the trip to the Tangerines (victory there is nothing to boast about this season), it’s beginning to look like a jinx. Hopefully we’ll stick to the traditional flavours of yellow and green to tackle the leaders in their own backyard.
Howe’s ripe picks sit at the top of the tree while Neil Adams ponders his future after failing to get his bunch to blossom down in the lower branches of the table. The 1-1 draw earlier in the season brought admiring glances for an opposition which outplayed us and maybe should have gone away with three points.
However, no one, not even the man from Del Monte, could have imagined that the Cherries would grow into a promotion pushing species. Clearly the climate at the south coast has been a warm and invigorating one compared to the rather frosty and biting one suffered in the east on occasion this season.
I don’t think anyone except for their local rivals would begrudge them a shot of top-tier glory for the very first time. They play the game in the right way and score a shed full of goals and all done on a comparative shoestring of a budget.
The same could be currant-ly said for the club in second place but to openly admit it would be as unpleasant and stomach churning as sucking a lorry load of lemons.
But enough of the opposition though – which Norwich will turn up on Saturday? The bright and breezy one which stood square, toe-to-toe with a rampant Derby or a dull and lifeless one which got right royally run over at the Madjeski?
Many a Canary feels disappointed to be outside of the play-off places in the New Year, let alone a long way distant from the top two. However, the metaphorical slate of a fresh year is clean and we still sit on the cusp of getting back to the ‘big time’.
Casting the mind back to last season’s Championship, Leicester and Burnley pretty much ran away with the automatic places, while QPR did it very ugly and clawed their way up by the skin of their teeth at the expense of a far more deserving Derby. They played party-poopers and maybe that will be our role this season. Would we give a fig if that was to be the case?
Is such a big style-shift a fair compromise for a shot at the Premier League or simply a case of forbidden fruit in the quest for a fool’s paradise?
The top two don’t look like cracking so maybe we will have to do it the ‘QPR way’ – tighten up and hit them with the sucker punch. Gary O’Neil was at the heart of that QPR success, so we have a midfield cog who knows how to get the job done, although he did get sent off in the play-off final!
Phelan (or possibly Neil) now has to galvanise the troops and ensure no further slip ups. A ‘run’ is what most definitely is needed to be put together over the second half of winter and into spring. We have a squad full of second tier experience – there will be little excuse for falling short.
Of course, a little bit of extra spice has been sprinkled on the season with the return of Chris Hughton to the fray at Brighton. Still labeled as a thoroughly ‘bad apple’ from his time with us, there seem to be plenty of sour grapes being spat at his appointment.
He’ll have had plenty of time to bed down in his new job before facing his former charges on April 3rd. More pressing is the Seagulls clash with Ipswich at the end of this month. If Hughton can engineer a win from that one, he may just regain some favour in Norfolk?
As for our boys on Saturday, the defence has to cut out the errors, the midfield has to throttle the supply and threat from the Cherries midfield and ideally someone in a yellow and green shirt (not plum please) will pop up to nick a winner.
It might sound ugly but we’d all go… bananas if it happens.