The nitty gritty stage of the season is upon us. Ten games. Our fate hanging in the balance. So too our chances of wallowing in next season’s obscene riches.
It’s the Canaries versus the Magpies versus the Black Cats. The Swans and the Cherries look to have earned the right to survive.
From the day after the triumph at Wembley, I always thought this would be the case as 2016 winter turns to spring. I’m not happy to be justified on that but then neither am I angry at the board, the boss or the boys.
We are where we are, and so let’s get the toys back in the pram and behave like sensible adults.
While the Geordies home form gives them hope and with the almost unsinkable Big Sam pulling the strings for the Makems, what glimmers do we have to cling on to down here in Norfolk?
After all, being kind our home form is average at best. We have beaten those others around us but that was long before this shocker of a losing streak dating back to January 2nd.
We have the two rivals to play on the hallowed turf, but have our boys got the nerve, the bottle, even the cohunes to win when it really does matter?
Even with six points from those battles, where the heck are the other eight to ten coming from?
Many questions to answer and less and less time to do it.
Alex Neil is under increasing scrutiny, if not on the end of downright abuse from a minority of, and I hesitate to use the word, supporters.
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.
Hurrah for that much. Team Neil seems to have had an epiphany on the golden sands of Abu Dhabi.
However, what the footballing gods give with one hand, they quickly snatch away with t’other.
The Tettey toe poke has been sadly packed away for the season.
Robbie Brady has probably spent more time at the dentist than on the training pitch ahead of Saturday’s crunch game in Wales. Hopefully, his dental disaster on Tuesday night has not dented his desire and diligence in the dog fight to come.
Gary ‘the Gash’ O’Neill must have had the mother of all headaches in the last day or so. Hopefully paracetamol by the fist full and industrial strength bandages will see him fit and proper for Swansea.
Whatever the next ten games bring, I just hope it all boils down to who plays the best football and not who suffers the most injuries or who is on the wrong end of appalling refereeing.
May Simon Hooper and Lee Mason never cross our borders again.
The rub of the green grass has not gone our way. Yellow and green goggles?
I’m confident that an extraterrestrial entity briefed on the basics of the beautiful game and shown our highlights of late, would reach that same conclusion.
Still, there’s no point in dwelling on these things. It’s done; time to focus on the next one.
The fact is that Swansea will be bubbling with confidence after the most unlikely of 3 points in north London.
Even the presence of Leroy Fer in their side wasn’t enough to jinx their chances. Please God, don’t let him come back to haunt us tomorrow.
Personally, I’m not at all confident that we will contain the Swans slick passing and movement, or get that most elusive of creatures… the clean sheet.
We stifled the Foxes like no other team has done this season and outplayed Chelsea’s ‘Galacticos’ for long periods, so there’s hope.
In the land of leeks, we have to put a spanner in the works, plug the gaps in our defence and hope that the day’s forward of choice (whoever he may be) will spring a surprise and convert some the chances.
May the best team win fairly and squarely and may it finally be the Canaries.