OK, I’ll do it.
I’ve been critical of others, sometimes including my fellow Norwich fans, for conveniently forgetting what they’ve said or failing to take responsibility for their statements.
So – with stiff drink in hand – I’m ready to bite the bullet and re-visit my pre-season predictions. In exchange, perhaps I can beg some indulgence.
Gentle readers: I know you’re good guys and won’t be too harsh on me. It would also be really nice if we could agree, at this stage, that two out of three isn’t bad.
I thought Arsenal – who I’ll come back to later – would challenge for the title, along with Man City. In case anyone might check back, I’d better come clean with the other part of that prediction: Chelsea to win it.
At the other end, I forecast that Villa and Newcastle would be relegation candidates. My other nomination was (pauses for large gulp of whisky) Leicester.
As for City, I forecast us finishing 15th. In fairness, with a little kinder rub of the green and better concentration we could be there. I thought our key players – you’re probably starting to appreciate why I proposed the ‘two out of three’ deal – would be Brady, Redmond and (cough) Mulumbu.
(Apologies if you’re reading, Jonny. By way of restitution, you’re getting my vote for Player of the Season).
I have divided loyalties about the Premier League title. My golf partner and the boyfriend of my niece (more about her a little later), both of whom I like very much, are avid Arsenal fans. I remind them that it’s more agonising at the bottom than the top, and it’s hard to sympathise with Arsenal’s players. Equally, though, it’s hard to see friends suffering.
Aside from fans of Arsenal and Spurs, however, surely no-one with football in their veins could begrudge Leicester completing their fairytale. The one we almost realised, of course, in 1992-93.
Many of these thoughts, of course, can and should wait for the end of the season. And what an ending it’s shaping up to be. If I pushed back on the pessimism of our fans a fortnight ago, I’m now wondering if I should be trying to rein in the optimism. “We’ll survive easily” said one Twitter enthusiast on Sunday. Easily?? Norwich??
We’ve improved our chances, that’s all. As usual, we can take our lead from Alex Neil: he points out that we’ve created a platform, but we’ll only know the importance of Saturday after the next games.
Happily, as fans we’re far from powerless. 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.
Having said that, we’d better be ready for the rollercoaster of this season to have saved its wildest and steepest twists for the final few weeks.
Although Palace are dropping precariously, I still believe this fight will be between our beloved City and the two giants – perhaps dinosaurs – of the north east. It may be many things, but it won’t be straightforward.
I’ve invoked many names to the cause of my views on City, including Tolstoy, Benjamin Franklin and Shakespeare. Now it’s time to add my niece Lindsay.
Fifteen years ago (at the age of 10) she told me a story that has resonance in many areas of life, but in particular City’s current battle with Newcastle and Sunderland.
There’s been much debate about the ‘magic number’ of points needed for premier League survival this year. But Lindsay’s story gets to the heart of the matter.
It concerns two boys hiking in the woods. Suddenly their path is blocked by a bear. One boy drops to the ground, opens his bag and takes out a pair of running shoes. His companion is incredulous: “You’re crazy – you’ll never outrun that bear.” As he laces up the shoes, the first boy calmly replies: “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you”.
The relegation bear is eyeing us up, together with our companions Newcastle and Sunderland. We’ve let it get alarmingly close, but we’ve now got our running shoes on. We can outrun our lumbering rivals. Let’s do it.