Despite the ‘support’ of former referee Mark Halsey and almost every pundit who could be bothered to express an opinion, Cameron Jerome’s overhead kick is still ruled out. It’s time to move on.
Master Hooper is unlikely to darken our doors again for a while and it’s best we leave it there.
Of far greater importance is Saturday’s trip to the Stadium of Light.
Alex Neil’s proud record of having never lost an away game while being in the City dugout will go under the microscope for the first time this season, and undoubtedly face its toughest test yet, but Sunderland fall into the category ‘beatable’
Yet let’s not kid ourselves. This one is a big ask.
The Black Cats will still be smarting from an opening day horror show at the King Power stadium and will be desperate not to disappoint their long-suffering supporters at the first time of asking.
The decision by Mrs Advocaat to permit her Dick another twelve months on Wearside was supposed to have been the start of a renaissance for a club that is the perennial sleeping giant, but events in Leicester had an all-too familiar ring for the Mackems.
For City, a narrow Sunderland win or a draw would have been preferable but no – in true Norwich fashion we pitch up at potentially the wrong place at the wrong time.
And it’s not as if the Stadium of Light is a happy hunting ground. It isn’t. In fact, City have only won there once – in August 1997 – when Daryl Sutch scored the only goal in one of the stadium’s first games.
Since then, while City have enjoyed a fine record against the Black Cats at Carrow Road, in the North East it’s been a miserable series of defeats and a couple of draws – interestingly on each of our last two visits.
So, if Alex Neil were a believer in omens then they’re not good. But he’s not.
As ever, the preparation will be meticulous. The players will be as mentally and physically prepared as is humanly possible, and the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses laid bare for everyone’s consumption. No stone left unturned.
However, this season there will be occasions when the best game-plan, the best preparations and the most positive mind-set will still be insufficient to get a result.
Last season, if all the boxes had been ticked and the players implemented the plan as instructed, Alex knew that, more often than not, City would go on and win the game. Not this time round – sometimes even our best won’t be good enough.
Whether that will be the case on Saturday remains to be seen, but – on paper at least – it is one of those where City can travel safe in the knowledge that a good performance should yield some points.
A win would naturally be wonderful but, if offered it, I’d take a point now.
For City fans, the wait for new signings continues. Sadly, for some, patience is not a virtue and the unreliable barometer of Twitter reveals an ever-increasing desperation among those who judge progress by the number of new faces in the squad.
To paraphrase a yuppie mantra of the 1980s, it seems ‘we are what we sign’.
In this Friday’s piece on MFW, Ed Couzens-Lake describes, far more eloquently than I, why Norwich City perhaps doesn’t have the allure we all like to believe. Equally, neither are we able to match others when it comes to depth of pocket.
Twitter has been ablaze all week with angst over David McNally’s inability to land the new striker that we and Alex Neil crave, almost as though the CEO is sat, feet up on his desk, twiddling his thumbs while doing a Nero impersonation.
But in the real world, the inactivity has nothing to with lack of effort or determination – and more to do with our ability, or otherwise, to lure the right man for the right price.
Right now Norwich City are not big fish, not even medium-sized fish. To be frank, in Premier League terms, we’re a sardine – and to prospective new signings, that’s not ‘sexy’.
Some have remarked on the ‘success’ of Watford and Bournemouth in the summer transfer market while forgetting that both have billionaire owners. Anyone prepared to spend circa £8million on acquiring the services of Tyrone Mings is clearly not too fussed about making every pound work that little bit harder.
We don’t have that luxury. £120million or no £120million, when locking horns with other Premier League clubs in the transfer market we’re usually the stag that slinks off in a sulk and with half an antler missing.
That doesn’t mean we can’t compete but it does mean every deal takes work and time, and lots of it.
And besides, the window doesn’t ‘slam’ shut for another 20 days.
Sid W says
I must agree with you and look forward to the next game.And this must always be the maxim no matter what the result. However although I also agree that it takes time to identify & follow up a transfer I wonder if city’s hierarchy are not planning too far ahead with spending money.Just possibly planning has also to take in consideration that next season may see city playing in the championship again.While I sincerely hope not it has to be faced even at this stage of the season.So like many other fans I just hope targets have been identified and progress is being made.
Cosmo P. says
Mrs. A certainly must love her Dick..to stay in Sunderland. Those flowers that persuaded her husband to stay will seem small recompense once winter in Wearside arrives. Mr. A. has a seriously overinflated CV.
Let’s go break that North East hoodoo. As long as we keep Defoe quiet and shut down his supply, we have a fighting chance.
Be interesting to see how many of the 50-50s we get from the ref. Kevin Friend is experienced but not without controversy..surprise, surprise.
Liked reading your article. Just one thought our owners are not billionaire players. They are not short off a few quid, but their money has been made in Football by shrewd transfer dealings.
Dwight Gayle to Norwich. Not sure he is the answer if you are playing with just one forward in your system. This would seem like a panic buy if this were to happen!
Stewart Lewis says
I’m really not looking to pick a fight with you, and have already acknowledged the virtues of your owners. But you’re wrong in one respect, and a bit sad in another.
David McNally does not do panic buys. Sure, our record of signings is mixed (as are most clubs’) – but your repeated suggestions of panic in our dealings simply shows ignorance.
While we’ve had a pop at some aspects of Watford, we haven’t rubbished your signings before anyone has seen what they’ll do under their new manager. It would be nice if you afforded us the same courtesy.
As I’ve said, I hope and believe that three teams other than Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth will go down.
This Watford bickering is getting all a bit Pink’Un. Stop it.
Woodton Canary says
I too fear the potential backlash that could well be coming our way given how poor Sunderland played at the weekend.
If you’re trying to work out where our 38 points are going to come from for safety then you would probably have pencilled in a point at the Stadium of Light at the start of the season.
I’m intrigued to see what changes AN makes, I think that’s a real conundrum for him. I think the only obvious one is Jerome for Grabban.
E. Nog says
Advocaat – I’ve always found his product leaves a nasty taste in the mouth which disappoints. His teams invariably struggle to impress most of the year but put in a spirited effort around the Christmas period after which they tend to lose their bottle, turn pale and go down the drain.
Premier League Pedant says
I’m not sure the players should forget the woeful decisions of Saturday. The sense of injustice, combined with the notion that they played well enough to win the game, could act to unite and motivate them just that little bit more.
If we can play with the aggression and positivity that we’re capable of, the shambolic Sunderland defense could easily cave just as badly as it did at Leicester. We’re due a bit luck as well. I’m feeling confident.