Anita’s back! Inspired by Saturday’s valiant effort Anita Byrne-Philips felt compelled to put fingertip to keyboard again and has offered an intriguing glimpse into life in the Barclay on Saturday.
What a valiant, gutsy performance against Pellegrini’s side; a well battled point that could be crucial in our fight against relegation.
Saturday gave me back my fighting spirit, and so it was with my yellow bag clutched in hand that I went home with a glass half full and watched Match of the Day for the first time this year.
However I feared it was going to be so different. I was 90 seconds late for kick-off as I had a pre match calling for a Pukka Pie to soak up up the red wine from the night before. Needs must!
I tucked in, well as much as you can while standing in the Barclay with a plastic spoon/fork combo, and marvelled (whilst watching and ‘sporking’ mouthfuls of pie) at Man City’s great positioning, speed and one-touch football.
Their pass rate was pretty much 100 per cent successful. How were we going to compete against that for 90 minutes?
But 30 minutes later I found myself surprisingly more relaxed. At times we seemed to almost emulate their one-touch quick passing style of football. The Barclay faithful was even able to join in with a few “oles.
Our back four of Olsson , Bennett, Klose and Martin seemed to have gelled and were working as a defensive unit. It wasn’t, of course easy, but there were even glimpses of flair on display when we attacked..
City looked ‘up for it’ and showed true grit. At half-time there were smiles all round as we all relived Bamford’s screaming effort that came off the crossbar.
“If only…” we all wondered. Could we actually get something from the game? The team were giving it their absolute all but realistically could Klose keep Aguero at bay for another 45 minutes?
So, clutching soft drink in hand I stood for the second-half and watched my team grow in confidence; the hard working O’Neil and Howson in midfield were backed up magnificently by our “resolute defence” (yes, those words were uttered on MotD).
On his starting debut Bamford’s first touches were great and with his ability to hold up the ball he showed great promise.
Eventually, as his legs tired, he exited as part of a double attacking substitution. Alex was going for it, we had gone two up front.
But, as the minutes ticked by, the thought of conceding in the dying minutes naturally crept into my head. ‘Please hold on! Please hold on!’
My drink had been empty most of the half and my hand was cold but in my mind I was thinking if I put this paper cup down it may be unlucky, so I clutched on to it believing it was our only hope for a point!
‘Please hold on! Blow the whistle ref, please hold on! Please hold on!’
Just three minutes of extra time was a bonus. I was expecting more.
It’s of course irrational to create new superstitions, new lucky mascots, but anything will do to will my team to victory or in this case a no-score draw!
And then…. YESSSS!!
‘Yellows… yellows… yellows…’ echoed around the old place.
It was only a point, but it could be a turning point.
Let’s hope it is and those woeful performances against teams around us are gone – but can we find nine points from eight games?
Mathematically yes, but realistically it all depends on our boys ability to replicate Saturday’s effort. There is now proof they have the ability and fight, it’s just whether they can sustain it for eight x 90 minutes plus.
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.
If we are to fight in this mini relegation league we need to be cohesive and this was the best I’ve seen in recent games, so let’s keep the faith, cheer on the boys… and pray.
And of course keep hold of any new lucky mascots.
Thanks to Anita for, as always, sharing her heartfelt thoughts with the Yellow Army.
John Speck says
In a 3 team battle to avoid relegation when 2 go down you have to go for 3 points and not AIM for a point, especially in home games.
Celebrations after the game by NCFC fans were reminiscent of similar celebrations by Neil Adams et al when we drew at Chelsea near the end of the 2013/14 season, only to get relegated.
Norwich are meant to have reverted to a more attacking style of play again BUT we managed exactly how many shots on target vs Man City – zero! In a home game we really had to go out and try to win.
Against Swansea the previous week it was little better – with just one shot on target for Norwich in the opening 65 minutes.
This team only plays with gusto when it is losing. Let the opposition score first in far too many games.
A defeatist inferiority-complex is crushing our creativity. No other teams serious about staying in the division adopt such a defeatist stance at the start of matches — you do not win games if you contrive to create only one or two opportunities to score In a game unless you are plain lucky!
Stewart Lewis says
John (1): Sorry – for this game (against a team with £100m of talent on its bench alone), our approach was smart and celebrations merited.
Anita’s got it right.
Ben K says
With the performance against Man City I agree there are very positive signs. You can’t expect three points from games like that one so to get one must be considered a bonus, but the performance is the thing that should inspire greater hope.
It’s true that attacking verve was in short supply and the need for it will be greater in the games we have coming up, but the celebration is for that fact that we kept a high scoring team very quiet and played with a concerted steeliness. It bodes well for getting results in the matches to come.
I remember being a bit bemused by the triumphalism following the 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. A point was definitely not enough then and the lack of picking up three almost consigned us to relegation on the day. This is different, though. It’s actually still in our hands given that we have two of the bottom four to play, at home.
Ben K says
(I’ve just checked the table and it’s not actually in our hands, mathematically, but it’s very close to being the case, and will only be a matter of one point if Newcastle lose to Leicester tonight)
#1, unbelievable! Did you watch Saturday’s game? Our boys stifled one of the best club teams in Europe and came up with a point that no one would have predicted beforehand.
el dingo says
A little belief has returned after Saturday. Pick a flat back four with natural LB LCB RCB and RB and see what happens. O’Neil and Howson magnificent too. Poor ole Jarvis was blowin’ – insert own word – at the end. Magnificent effort; shame I lost my dark green carrier bag. Not really – we’re not Binners:-)
Dave B says
While even by my standards (1) is a little pessimistic on this particular result, he’s not wrong that we need simply need to be winning games, regardless of opponent.
Newcastle have played their trump card, have two games in hand, are in control of their destiny, and have a world class manager. Short of us winning half our remaining games I see us struggling to stay up. Draws just aren’t good enough from here on for any home game and I’d include (a woeful) Man U in that.
Regrettably I still think we are very much third favourites in a three horse race and need a substantial improvement in results. We have several games coming up where wins are crucial, at very least if we are to go down we shall at least drop giving it a go. So many times we have seen good performances for long periods of matches but ended up gaining only a point out losing altogether. This one very much felt like a point gained. The next few games are all winnable (WBA, Sunderland, palace, Newcastle, Watford) to stay up I fear we need four wins out of those, maybe three and a draw but beating our two rivals is a must. It’s a huge ask, staying up would be an amazing achievement right now. It’s possible but I fear the championship beckons.
P.s. whatever happens we should definitely keep Alex Neil in charge.
Premier League Pedant says
Great point, and most importantly a solid, well-organised defensive display. About time! I really enjoyed the cries of “Yellows! Yellows!” after the whistle (and the hand-rolling, and the random handball shouts!) and it seemed to me that most of the Carra Rud crowd would disagree with John Speck.
You had to wonder whether we could hold out. Must be so physically and mentally draining up against a team like that. Maybe we can cope without Alex Tettey after all.
Now all we need to do is win a few of the ‘must win’ games.
#4, it most certainly is in our own hands. A simple mathematical analysis fails to take account of the fact that we have both Newcastle and Sunderland to play at Carrow Road, which places survivable well within our own gift.
Dave B says
At the time or writing @4 was correct. Newcastle were 1pt behind with two games in hand. However Newcastle failed to win last night, so it is back in our hands.