Barnsley come to Carrow Road on Saturday on the back of two victories and seven points accrued in the past three games. Norwich on the other hand suffered from the pressures of a hard fought derby day victory and a tense Carabao cup loss to Arsenal with three straight defeats to sit in a very average thirteenth in the table.
The Championship table however remains as close as ever and a win will put Norwich right back on the cusp of the play-off places, a target which is developing into our best hope at promotion this season.
Sixteenth placed Barnsley can match Norwich for points with a victory and with a game in hand, league safety will look more than likely and they can begin to set their sights much higher up the table.
Hi Rob, great to meet you; how did you get introduced to supporting Barnsley and what is your favourite memory as a fan?
RM: Probably the same as many young lads I was dragged down as a little lad by my father and well… the rest is history! I think I was very lucky to grow up during arguably Barnsley’s most successful era (the late 90s) so it made it a lot easier to become hooked! I don’t remember the first ever match I went to but my earliest memory is from 1995 when we lost 3-0 at home to Arsenal in the League Cup – it was very cold and we missed a penalty.
Favourite memory… thankfully there has been a few! I’d love to say beating Bradford to win promotion to the Premier League in 1997 but I honestly cannot remember any of the match, just being on the pitch at the end – I was only 9 and unfortunately did not take in the magnitude of what we had achieved and may never achieve again!
Beating Liverpool and Chelsea in the 2008 FA Cup definitely sticks out as does our amazing second half of the season in 2015-2016 when we went from bottom of League One to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and promotion!
Barnsley are currently 16th but sit only seven points off the play offs with a game in hand, based on your season so far so you see it as a realistic target?
The playoffs are a massive massive pipe dream and no I don’t think we will be anywhere near come May, if we hadn’t sold the crown jewels back in January I am convinced we would have made them last May but we threw away the opportunity and now we have had to rebuild again.
To be totally honest I am delighted to be 16th, because after the recruitment in the summer where we trawled League Two I was very worried we would be cut adrift at the bottom by now. We are on a good little run at the moment but I have no idea how long that will last. Carrow Road is a bogey ground so probably not much longer!
Back in the 09/10 season, Paul Lambert took over Norwich in league one and used young players with a point to prove to get to the Premier League in two seasons, do you think there is a chance that could ever happen with Barnsley to get you out of the Championship? You’ve said this season isn’t looking likely, does that sit with the recruitment or the manager?
It could have happened last season if we hadn’t sold all the good young players we had signed in League One!
That is the frustration for many fans, we felt we were on the cusp of something with the likes of Mawson, Hourihane and Winnall and then suddenly they were all gone. This season is all about survival again and even the manager has admitted its down to recruitment.
Hecky has publicly voiced his frustration that his best players were sold and he has had to look further down the leagues to replace them. This may change if this proposed takeover is completed but it’s been dragging on that long, I think there is a fear it will just never happen.
Norwich have gone through a period of transition and undergone a major overhaul of the first team squad – do you see Norwich as a tough game in the fixture list or are we viewed as a good opportunity to pick up points?
Norwich is ALWAYS a tough fixture for us, especially away where we haven’t won since 1937! Norwich also relegated us from the second tier in 2002 (although we got some modicum of redemption in 2009) I genuinely do not expect anything but a defeat this weekend – Hillsborough, Loftus Road, Ricoh Arena, Carrow Road, we just never EVER win at these places.
If you could pick any three players from the Championship to sign in January, who would you pick and why?
Hourihane would be top of that list! What he could do with the ball at his feet was unreal and he made us tick. After that I would opt for Bobby Reid from Bristol City who tore us apart on the opening day and then because you can’t do anything in football without a good goalscorer I would opt for somebody like Leo Bonatini at Wolves who has a remarkable record this season I believe for goals and assists
Which team do you think will win the Championship this season?
I don’t think you can really look past Wolves. They’ve spent big and it’s showing, I’m not convinced the likes of Sheffield United and Cardiff will last the pace so I can see Wolves winning it quite comfortably in the end.
If you could pick any Norwich player to put on a Barnsley shirt and play for you, who would it be?
I would LOVE to see Marley Watkins back, when the likes of Winnall and Hourihane left in January he was our shining light that got us to the end of the season. He is NOT a striker though so stop playing him there! I’ve always been a massive fan of Wes Hoolahan too going back to his Blackpool days. Very composed midfielder.
Thanks Rob, all the best and good luck for Saturday. I hope you lose of course but the sentiment is there all the same… And on that last point, I’d be glad to see Watkins on his way back to Barnsley. For me he hasn’t cut it in a Norwich shirt so far and for our season to kick on we desperately need a back-up for Oliveira in January.
For the record, my prediction for tomorrow is a 2-1 win with Oliveira on the scoresheet.