I can never get too excited over pre-season wins. Essentially they’re just exercises in honing the players’ fitness and putting some miles in the legs.
This is why, in a Victor Meldrew style, I didn’t read too much into the 6-0 win over MK Dons at Colney on Friday afternoon.
Of course, nothing bad can come from a win, any win, let alone a six-nil-er – and especially after the season we just endured – but forgive me if I don’t get out the “we’ve turned a corner” bunting just yet.
Russ Martin’s MK Dons are still feeling their way back. They may be a week or so ahead in their pre-season prep and have already played a couple of friendlies, but in terms of kicking a ball in anger… try March 7 vs Doncaster.
Those genuinely getting read to board HMS Pi$$ this League (it’s an Ipswich thing) would be well advised to exercise caution when teetering along the gangplank.
But for the fans who jump up and cheer goals in pre-season as if they were in a cup final, they’re here. Enjoy,
Equally, those who pointed out to me the importance of getting a win and some goals under the collective belt after what occurred in the final nine games of the season, have a point.
Bigger, more important tests lie ahead of course, but the sooner that winning mentality of 2018/19 can be rediscovered at the expense of 2019/20’s oh-shit-here-we-go-again, the better.
Friday was a start.
As ever, it was good to see – albeit by a few carefully edited clips from the club – the new players kicking a ball wearing a City shirt for the first time. For me, they are the key to lifting the mood.
An interesting sub-plot to Friday’s events at Colney was a piece in The Athletic that suggested the club had contravened the latest quarantine rules in unveiling Spanish left-back Xavi Quintilla, signed on a season-long loan from Villarreal.
Now, I’ve long given up trying to keep up-to-date with this government’s ever-changing detailed guidance on almost everything to do with the pandemic – if ministers and cabinet advisers are not bothering to understand the guidance, how are we supposed to – but I do know Stuart Webber wouldn’t have blindly shown his new signing off to the press without first having done the research.
One thing we have learned about our sporting director in his two and a half years at the club is that no stone is left unturned in terms of preparation, and I’m pretty sure that includes the presenting of new signings to the press.
Until we learn more, I’m happy to file this one in the much-used, chances-to-have-a-dig-at-Norwich section.
By the same score, questions asked of the club’s decision to head to North Rhine-Westphalia for a week-long training camp, which includes three games against German opposition, ignore the fact that Germany’s handling of the pandemic has been rather more successful than our own.
Again, with all the correct protocols and procedures being followed, there can be little to pick holes in, unless you’re specifically looking for some.
Finally, the fixtures – a list of 46 games that miraculously concludes with City playing every team home and away. Who’d have guessed?
In keeping with the Meldrew theme, it’s not an annual event that gets me ‘buzzing’ particularly, especially when there is no Ipswich (h) or (a) in the list, but it did still produce “I don’t believe it” moment.
Other than said non-existent local derbies, the only dates of real significance are the opening and closing fixtures and, for those who go away, the one on Boxing Day. For those hardy souls, a trip to Carrow Road is infinitely more palatable than a trip to London or the home counties.
So, forgive me my Meldrew moment, when it was revealed that for the fourth season in a row, City are away at both extremities of season. Boxing Day too involves an away trip (Watford), making it three away days in four seasons – the anomaly being that never-to-be-forgotten meeting with Nottingham Forest.
It doesn’t really matter I guess, especially at the start of this new fan-less season, but to finish with a home game has to be an advantage if there’s something riding on it and there’s a stadium full of fans.
So, as ever, it feels like we come out the wrong side in a game of chance. Damn that fixtures computer programme.
The A-levels students had a song for it: f#!k the algorithm.
Herr Cutz says
Gary, like you I shan’t be urging the St Peter Mancroft campanologists to celebrate the 6-0 win but the tolling of a lone bell would have been appropriate had we not won. And a clean sheet is encouraging provided it doesn’t encourage Danny to stick with his bad old ways. So what will happen in Jarmany? A Curates egg ( it is Sunday), a bit of good and a bit of bad? And what of strengthening central defence, does no 6’+ hard man want to join us? Nervous of Bruindale.
Gentle read Mr G, can,t help but agree over unveiling of our Spanish recruit, I read somewhere he had undergone something like 6 tests in 10-12 days (maybe wrong) came out negative for the virus. Surely that is enough for most people. I never got near a test after having the thing for over 2weeks, still left with side effects. Still confused at what I should have done with recieving 3 different pieces of advice from 111 helpline.
I have not read anything from The Athletic, I can,t I was impressed by the headline I saw, did they contact Webber before writing ? As you say, it seemed a little like a knife was out.
Friendlies are difficult, never rushing to them myself, if you win against lower league opposition nothing gets said that much about it. But should you lose, knives again.
Off the Germany, still following on from what Lambert started, the club would not leave one I not dotted, regards safety from virus this close to season kick off. One little groan on another subject. If clubs have not got enough to handle, short close season. Why on earth are international being played? I read City Could have 15 on duty for their countries. Could be 15 injuries to contend with. Madness
An excellent read and it has been a good weekend England with a massive lead in the cricket, Spurs beating some league 1 team 3- 0 and city beating MK Don’s the phoney war is up and running.
Now we have news that Chelski will sign Chilwell from Leicester and they are saying they want a player from Ajax 27 years old is that the first shot in trying to knock a few million on Lewis price.
WHU will not deal with city for a striker that they don’t want due to his so called £35k a week wages and not scoring for them but want £5m with add ons city so the papers are saying have offered £2/3m with add ons so the transfer phoney war is in full swing.
Onwards and upwards
Stay safe and stay healthy
Jim Davies says
I think most people picked up on your point about the key dates as soon as they saw the fixtures list, Gary. The A-level students have it right! A home game at the start can get you going, and as you say, finishing at home can be important if there’s something to play for (more so if you have a crowd, rather than the current circumstances). Boxing Day at home is always a bonus.
Interestingly, Bournemouth have managed to get home games at both ends of the season, though they are away (to Rotherham, nice little trip!) on Boxing Day. There has to be something wrong with that program for deciding the fixtures. F#!k the algorithm, indeed. (I haven’t checked any other clubs, too tedious, but I did want to see how the media darlings had come out of it).
Jim Davies says
My tedium has been overcome, I checked out the fixtures, and as well as Bournemouth, Bristol City, Watford, Cardiff, Derby, QPR, and Barnsley all top and tail the season at home. Apart from probably Barnsley, they are all clubs who get a fair share of media attention, whether deserved or not. Two of them have possible FFP charges to face, so they may be getting a bit more attention than they’d wish.
Bernie Owen says
Let’s face it Al Gore’s rhythm is useless.
The fixtures computer’s only as Scarboro fair as the programmer let’s it be.
Que Sera Sera .
I’ll get me coat .
Keith B says
I think the fixture algorithm is long-developed. I’ve noticed before that generally clubs who start at home also finish at home and wondered why they dont adjust that by swapping the last two sets of fixtures around. It would be very easy to amend the algorithm to do that.
One thing they don’t do is look at is a club’s pattern from previous years – given that 20 clubs change division every year I guess that would start getting a bit too complicated to take into account. But I presume that if we thought we were getting a rough deal we would raise it with the leagues.
Given that the club with whom we are “paired” to avoid both being at home at the same time are in a different division it must be complex enough already.
As for the A levels even the teachers haven’t denied the assertion that historically they over-predict 40% of the grades, so frankly, whilst it’s easy to jump on a bash OFQAL bandwagon it’s the teachers themselves who should really be in the spotlight. Besides, the OFQAL leader does I believe live in the Fine City and watch her local team, so I for one am happy to give her a break….
Jim Davies says
And the club we are paired with have of course yet again got home games for both start and end of the season. However, in February, both of us are at home on the same day, so are we paired?
Not being at all into Al Gore’s rhythms or computer programming, surely there must be someone out there who can ensure that if a team is away for the first game of the season, then they finish the season with a home game, or v.v.?
Amazing that both Watford and Bournemouth have home games both to start and finish with, whilst (yet) again, NCFC are away for both.
Conspiracy theory……….surely not!!!!
O T B C
Ed C-L says
It was interesting how The Athletic’s piece about Quintilla wasn’t written by (he’s one of our own) Michael Bailey..
And there was me forking out for it because The Athletic claimed every team covered had it’s own dedicated writer-one club, one correspondent, clarity and a ‘known’ face for the club when it came to this behemoth of a media company.
W0ndering if Michael wasn’t ‘given’ the story incase of a reaction from the club in response that would have seen him barred from access to the ground, Colney etc. They’re obviously not so bothered about Gary Bloke, or whatever staffer wrote it, getting the same treatment-of course, if the club feel it was a bit of groundless shit stirring on the eve of a new season, they might still sanction Michael and make life difficult for him anyway.
As Gary and CanaryLad pointed out, Quntilla wouldn;t have been shown off had there been any chance of whatever today’s Covid-19 restrictions are being broken-the fact that the story seems to have blown itself over and out already seems to indicate the club did nothing wrong.
The new lads looked good on Friday and played their part-Russ had a look of permanent despair on his face in the visitors technical area for most of the match. But then they did in all the games leading up to Colchester in 2009 as well-and we won all of them.
But hell, a win is a win.