Players who, when put on the spot about a game they are watching or player they are offering an opinion on, rarely venture further than the “game of two halves” school of punditry.
Archives for March 2016
We’re still up to our necks in the ‘brown stuff’ but suddenly the world is a brighter place. Four points from the last two games and the end of our win-less streak puts a spring in the step; a renewed and genuine sense of belief that we’re capable of hauling ourselves out of this.
The meaning of Easter has always been clear to me: a biting east wind and two league games. We’ve had the wind, but it’s Leagues 1 and 2 who have the games. Even with an unexpectedly heartening England performance, it just doesn’t feel right.
Upon securing promotion via that glorious Wembley day I penned a piece for the Metro in which I reeled off five reasons why City would stay up this time round. In hindsight it was borne less of logic and more of the adrenalin that was still coursing through the veins as a result of that thrilling afternoon.
We have scored more than Watford, more than West Brom who are safe as houses and only two less than Stoke who have an outside sniff of a top six finish.
Watling was another Saunders – fiercely ambitious, driven, single-minded and determined to have only the best for the club he was in charge of. Saunders would have seen in the glint of Watling’s eye a reflection of himself and that was enough for him.
We all know that there is some fine home-grown talent out on loan and with the prizes at stake in the Premier League I have no arguments with turning to experienced players to keep us afloat but I think it’s time that Norwich fans have a homegrown player to idolise.
Our belief, and its translation into vocal backing, can genuinely help the club we love. Though I hated not being able to go to The Hawthorns, it was wonderful compensation to hear On the Ball City loud and clear over the radio.
Many had spoken of the need for a continuation of the football played in spells against Manchester City and how it was key to produce a performance of a similar ilk when faced with opposition from outside the Premier League’s elite. But in reality it was never going to happen.
What glimmer of hope was gained from that precious point cleaved off a Manchester City side in the dying embers of the Pellegrini era, has to provide the spark. The Canaries have to go on a run of point gathering, one which has sorely eluded them since 2nd January.
It came at a risk. Remember, this was for a man who had been with his previous club for just twelve competitive matches, during which time, his sole achievement had been to narrowly avoid relegation to the Third Division with them. There was no doubt about it. Watling was pushing the Canary boat out to hitherto deep and unchartered waters.
The table may not look much different after Saturday, but the landscape does. I don’t know whether the players were losing belief after Swansea, but every social medium told us graphically that the fans were. The performance and result on Saturday has turned the mood around.
The point gained from the Abu Dhabi All Stars was a magnificent team effort displaying all the qualities desired for, with the exception of more attacking threat maybe.
I hope we stick with this formation. It’s a case of players in correct positions and there’s proof it works. No more need for shoe-horning in players, except of course in the case of injuries. And I’m hoping Redmond’s knock is nothing too serious.
It wasn’t about individuals – it rarely is with the Canaries – it was about the team working as a cohesive unit with each individual in that unit knowing and implementing his role to the letter. And it was about eliminating the stupid errors that offer the opposition chances on a plate.
There was no way Saunders was going to set another standard for Alex Neil to follow by taking Norwich up at the first time of asking. His first game, a 3-0 defeat at Leicester City on August 2, 1969 came five matches into that 1969/70 season, one that saw the Canaries eventually finish in 11th place in the Division Two table.
After Saturday it’s easy to say we lack the fight and determination to claw our way to safety. But that wasn’t the case against Leicester and Chelsea, or indeed West Ham. In three of our last four we’ve shown plenty of heart – that doesn’t look like a lost dressing room to me.
A Chelsea-type performance yesterday would have offered a realistic chance of a win. Instead we had something more akin to Villa away and subsequently a scoreline to match. That Leroy Fer was the provider of the only goal just rubbed salt into an already festering wound.
We will never be one of the big clubs; I am not sure that I would ever want us to be. Big bucks in football changes a club. Aa generous benefactor would be more than welcome at Carrow Road, but would we still be able to remain the same family-friendly club that we are now?
At least after the narrow and mighty unlucky defeats to the current leaders and defending champions (worth putting those losses into their deserved context), Neil seems to have at last found a system that suits and the players seem comfortable with.