To try and second guess what will unfold when City head to Rotherham is a futile exercise at the best of times. To try and predict how the Class of 2016 will handle a shiny, modern but still intimidating New York Stadium tomorrow is virtually impossible.
I will however stick my head high enough above the parapet to suggest it won’t be dull and uneventful. It rarely is these days.
If recent history is our guide then the comfortable 3-1 win for City at Carrow Road in October points to it being another small step on Alex Neil’s road to redemption – but three months is a long time in Championship football and our world was very different back then.
We finished that game top of the league.
Since then of course the trajectory has been downward; one that appeared irreversible until the recent timely plateau.
But we still kick off tomorrow fifteen places higher than the Millers, who were 24th when we played them and who have not moved since. Add in the fact that their most impressive performer at Carrow Road, Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown, decided that his CV would be better served by a move across Yorkshire to Huddersfield and it starts to look like ‘there for the taking’ territory.
But life’s not like that if you bleed yellow and green. There’s no such thing as a given.
For good measure our last two visits to the New York Stadium were not short of talking points either.
The 1-1 draw en route to the 2015 Championship play-offs, when Jordan Bowery’s late equaliser cancelled out Gary Hooper’s opener, was notable for the damage it did to City’s hopes of an automatic spot.
And the now infamous Capital One cup tie just four months later, which City won 3-1, was notable not only for Ricky van Wolfswinkel actually finding the net but more so for Lewis Grabban doing a Dimitri Payet (although it’s doubtful the Frenchman’s protest will involve a stroll to Rotherham railway station).
So, few clues to be had there other than to say it will be an improvement on the latter if the whole squad manages to make the trip from hotel to stadium. (I suggest handcuffing Olsson to Frankie – will give him something to do).
Quite who will be making the trip will be revealed by Neil in this lunchtime’s presser, which in itself will be intriguing.
With the aforementioned Swede seemingly bound for South Wales it will need an informed judgement call from Team Neil to decide, if he is indeed available to play, if his appetite for the game is at the required level.
And there may of course be others whose proposed moves have yet to reach the public domain.
All will be revealed… possibly.
But there can be no doubting that whichever XI starts the game, and regardless of any dressing room uncertainty, City should be good enough to bring home three points. No question. No excuses.
And in that regard this is a massive one for the manager.
The uneasy truce brought about by a three game unbeaten run has been most welcome but it’s fragile. Neil and his players know that they have zero credits in the bank and every backward step, or sideways in this instance, will be pounced upon.
The Southampton game was different and offered not only respite but a free shot – only a thumping defeat would have caused further waves – but Rotherham offers opportunity and peril in equal measure.
If the same mentality as offered against Derby prevails then expect a convincing win, and some extended leeway for a manager who has already been afforded grace aplenty by his employers, but a repeat of the lethargy of Oakwell will only serve to reopen festering wounds.
And that’s the rub. No-one, least of all the manager, can predict which iteration will pitch up tomorrow afternoon. False dawns have been two-a-penny this season and none of us dare predict with any degree of confidence what will unfold at 3pm.
In terms of comings and goings, the departure of Olsson – if indeed his long held desire to depart Norfolk finally comes to fruition – may finally offer Neil the opportunity to add to a 16 year old Icelander but, with good reason, many of us have limited confidence in the club’s ability to meet its recruitment targets.
Yet making judgements on the club’s success or otherwise in the midst of any transfer window is as meaningless as writing 800 words on a game at half-time. What appears informed and reasonable at the time can soon be rendered nonsensical and snapshot views merely second guess the bigger picture.
Frustration is however the name of the game, and history tells us that the Yellow Army’s patience in any given transfer window generally goes unrewarded, but still best to reserve judgement until the awful thing slams shut.
And then, if the powers that be are unable to reinvigorate and re-energise this squad by cleverly recycling funds raised by the sale of some big earners the questions will rightfully resound.
Until then however my powder is staying dry.
In the meantime, here’s to three more points and a disaster free afternoon.
On the Ball City
I’ll be there and I want (and expect) Olsson to be in the team and giving his all, after all he’s still our player and getting well paid to do so. I’m certainly not prepared to listen to any of this old ‘not in the right frame of mind’ nonsense!
As far as I’m concerned, no shows are no longer an option and as you say Gary they have zero credit to play with.
Stewart Lewis says
Bob (1): I don’t know about tomorrow, but I give Olsson a lot of credit this season.
Background noises tell us he’s wanted to leave but – in contrast to one or two other players – I couldn’t detect it in his performances. Now it would appear we came to an agreement with him: sign a contract extension (ensuring we’d get a better price) and we wouldn’t stand in the way of a move.
It’s a shame he didn’t want to stay with us, but in the circumstances this seems a mature way of behaving on both sides. I wish him well.
Well Mr.Gowers, as regards prospects for Saturday, we´ve just had a couple of decent results, so everything points to a 1-0 Rotherham win, we are Norwich City after all 🙂 I don´t count any canaries before they are hatched. As regards dealings in this transfer window, had anyone really expected us to go on a spending spree, especially as it´s been made known, we have to sell before we can buy. It certainly looks possible that both Olsson and Brady might leave, but beyond that, I can´t see much else of significance happening. Coming in ? well that´s anyone´s guess, but with prices screwed up to the maximum, don´t expect too much.
The Derby performance, excellent as it was, remains a one off this season. Victory tomorrow is essential, it buys grudging acceptance that Neil is in situ for another week. Defeat is unthinkable against such opposition.
For most this manager is tolerated only while he wins matches, his next defeat will bring more pressure to bear, his position at any other club would be untenable,
The result tomorrow is totally unpredictable, as is the line up. Who, for example will play at left back? Will there be any other ‘calf strains’ manifesting themselves before kick off? The line up should answer a few more questions about the direction of the club and it’s so-called ambition.
Well said Stewart, and totally in agreement with Chris (4).
In my view Olsson has been one of the few players this season to perform consistently at anywhere near his capabilities. It does now seem that his contract extension was only so that NCFC could benefit from a larger transfer fee, BUT 5m for the best left back outside the Premier League seems to be selling him on the cheap. The same with Redmond who we paid top whack for, but he then goes to Southampton for relative peanuts when compared to some other transfers in the summer.
If Olsson and Brady (who always looks as if he cannot be bothered) both leave, allowing the soon out of contract Toffolo to return to Scunthorpe appears another AN masterstroke!
As a regular supporter with no experience of multi-million pound companies, I cannot fathom out where all the supposed Premier League riches have gone. Surely there would have been relegation clauses in the contracts of all the bigger earners? If not, then it’s really no surprise that so many seem to not care!
O T B C
Dave B says
As I pointed out in a previous post, at the current rate of pts accumulation of those in the playoff positions, we’d need three wins in the next five to stay in contention, four to close the gap. All are poor teams with many harder fixtures ahead.
Anything but a win tomorrow and we’re in real trouble.
Keith B says
“allowing the soon out of contract Toffolo to return to Scunthorpe appears another AN masterstroke!” (John,5)
Indeed, Toffolo is one of our own and clearly destined to be a Premiership footballer very soon. Alex Neil is clearly the only manager who cannot see this. You will probably be amazed how many top Championship and lower Premiership clubs division one Scunthorpe have had to fight off for his signature. None actually.
OK, being realistic, Toffolo’s a good lad and it would be brilliant if he could make it at even Championship level. But he clearly isn’t ready to – he played in it for Rotherham last year, but only a few games and after his loan finished he was back in League One. And I believe his most successful loan was at Swindon where I think he played more as a wing-back than a full back.
It would be good to find our next Adam Drury, but I don’t think it’s going to be young Harry on current evidence.
Incidentally John my view is that relegation clauses have two sides to them. Yes, if relegated they save you a lot of money. But then the player agitates for a move back to the Premier League once it’s activated. And the other point is that better players may simply be unwilling to join your club in the first place if you insist on having those clauses inserted.
#5 – £5m is on the cheap because that was the point of the contract, which I said at the time. It was either £5m or next to nothing in the summer. As for Redmond, £11m was incredible business. He is the most overrated player I’ve ever seen in yellow and green and Saints fans have been lambasting him for beating his man and having no clue what to do next, shooting from stupid places and generally not knowing how he became a footballer. I’ll tell you why, his Mum convinced him that’s what he’s good at and she’s conned the footballing world.
Relegation clauses, like a wedding pre nup, hint at less than full commitment to or confidence in the union.
They have always proved to be a double edged sword for Norwich city.
#5 John, “Redmond who we paid top whack for” – that was £2M plus up to £1.2M in add-ons but we do not know how much of the £1.2M was actually paid. From a purely financial point of view £11M looks to me to be good business.
Gary, by the 16 year old Norwegian do you mean Agust Hlynsson who is Icelandic?
Gary Gowers says
Sorry MGW – my bad. Should have stuck with ‘young viking’!
Stewart Lewis says
Gary (11): Any more ignorance like that and we’ll have you running for US President….
Jeff (8) and MGW (10); apologies, but my point with Redmond (I’m not too sure how much we paid, but even 3.2m sounds less than we’ve been told), is that the fee he moved for, having had 2 seasons in a Premier league squad, seems cheap when compared particularly to that which Forest received from RB Leipzig for Oliver Burke who had never been close to the Prem.
Stewart Lewis says
John (13): Redmond was in the final year of his contract and had made clear he wouldn’t sign an extension.
For a notoriously inconsistent player (as Soton fans are confirming!) in that situation, £11m was a fine piece of negotiation on NCFC’s part. I understand our interim CEO Steve Stone deserves a lot of the credit
Just listened to that. A new low as the club is dragged through the sewers.
Incompetence at every level of the club. Lack of discipline rife. A result of no consequences for repeated failure. Smith and her hapless cronies are killing the club. This clueless mug of a manager should have been sacked montHs ago,
A disgrace. A total humiliation.
Next week should prove a chastening experience for this shower. Mr moxey must be specially looking forward to it.
Dave B says
@14) can we have him back? Stones that is.
Oh dear! Right result, wrong scoreline – do I get any points?
Season tickets should be plentiful next season-if there’s any onē left who wants one.!
We had something good going in Norwich-shame.