At the weekend he missed two gilt-edged chances that could have put his team clear. Irrespective of the rest of his performance, those misses prompted fans to question whether he should have been in the team at all.
His name is Raheem Sterling and he cost £50million.
Oh, and £1.5million Cameron Jerome missed one as well. As a former striker myself, perhaps I have excessive sympathy for him. But chances get missed, and those who imply he wasn’t trying his best haven’t been paying attention since he joined us eighteen months ago.
Depending on whether your glass is half-full or half-empty, the most important thing about City at Leicester was either (i) we produced a performance of exceptional character and commitment, or (ii) we lost. Surely, any sensible assessment has to take account of both.
Previewing the game with Chelsea, the BBC’s website pundit opines that “an immediate return to the Championship is looking increasingly inevitable to even the most ardent Canaries fan”. Well, relegation is a big threat and possibility, of course. But “inevitable”?
Not for me. Yes, our current run of results is ominous and we blew the relatively good chance of points against Villa and West Ham. We need points, and soon. But I offer four thoughts (to go with the fact that we’re not actually in the relegation places):
- If we replicate the Leicester performance, we’ll produce a ‘surprise’ result or two. Perhaps unlikely against Chelsea – whose last seven games have yielded 15 points, compared to our one – but even that’s possible.
- Villa are doomed, and having watched quite a bit of Sunderland and Newcastle I genuinely believe we have more to offer than either of them. If we play at Swansea as we did at Leicester, we’ll likely drag them into the scrap as well.
- Sunderland and Newcastle – poor travellers – have to come to Carrow Road. If the City faithful are prepared to get behind our team, those will be very difficult days for Allardyce’s and McClaren’s men.
- Conventional wisdom says we have a nightmare finish to the season. But is it? Arsenal away looks tough, but our other three final opponents (Watford, Man United and Everton) are now likely to be in the ‘nothing to play for’ group. Contrast that with the final-day fixtures for Swansea (v Man City) or Newcastle (v Tottenham).
None of this is to say that we’ll escape; only an idiot would deny that we’re in serious trouble. But surely it’s just as wrong to say that relegation is inevitable for us. It simply isn’t.
I’d be more pessimistic if City were being regularly outclassed, but that’s not the case. In games I’ve seen, only Tottenham have done that. We’ve made life more difficult for ourselves by missing chances for three points such as at Villa – as a result we have to pull out a result or two against the odds. However, we’ve been in contention in so many games that a ‘turn-up’ result is perfectly possible.
After all, who thought we’d win at Man United?
I have several friends who support Arsenal. Though at the other end of the table, the Gunners put their fans through at least as much anguish and frustration as City do. The two teams have a number of things in common, including the ability to play attractive football tempered by a sometimes costly lack of leadership on the pitch.
In the absence of a stirring leader, the challenge for Arsenal and Norwich is to get everyone to step up to the plate. It can be done. Don’t be surprised if Arsenal, written off by everyone after the defeat at Old Trafford, bounce back. And in City’s case we don’t need blind optimism – we’ve seen enough in the past two games to know that the spirit is there.
Relegation possible? Of course. Relegation inevitable? Don’t believe it.
Point 1 – Palace are sinking like a stone at the moment & despite all their cash Bournemouth aren’t clear too.
Point 2 – I don’t expect to win every week but I do expect is the team showing some fight and passion every week. The difference between this season and the last Hughton season is that its pretty clear to me the team are trying and we have a manager who is prepared to change, adjust and learn. Last time we went down doing the same things and always getting the same results, at least this time we have a manager with some ideas and changes in formation & personnel that make us less predictable.
Individual mistakes seem to be costing us dear at the moment but at least we’re not going to go down without a fight. Perhaps that’s what will give us the best chance of all.
I can only see us getting 8 or 9 points from here – wins v Sunderland & Newcastle, draws v Swansea & Watford, possibly one other. But strangely, 32-35 points might just be enough to keep us up!
Canary Mary says
What an good insight into THE CANARIES this season.
I like many other Canary supporters are sick to death of the
sniggering irreverence dished out to “little olde norwich” week in,week out!Must be soul destroying for the lads who week in -week out play their hearts out FOR US.The glass half full folks add to this ,but from where I sit in the Barclay I only ever see
100% commitment from the lads.
The only thing I would like to see perhaps is MORE Arrogance
on the field of play! Don’t let the other team think for 1min!oh
it’s only Norwich. EVEN DAVID won against GOLIATH #CTID
Bob in Diss says
Well balanced piece Stew – appreciating the danger we’re in but tempered with the realities and possibilities still there if we battle hard and play decent, positive football. Other than a 10 second blip, the Leicester performance was excellent from everyone.
Anything off an in form Chelsea seems unlikely but as long as we give ’em a good run for their money, we should move forward to the 6-pointers with hope and pride.
On the Ball City with knobs on.
Don Harold says
We’ve got as much or as little chance of staying up as about 5 other teams (Villa not included). I don’t think anyone in August would have thought we wouldn’t be battling relegation in March; after all, we came up as third best team in the Championship. I wouldn’t put any money on any of the teams from Sunderland up to and including Palace finishing above us or vice-versa. I do know that no team can provide more effort than we did at Leicester. We have a quarter of a season left and we can do it! By the way, can anyone remember the last time we were lucky? No, me neither!