As the curtain comes down on what has frankly been a disastrous season for the boys from NR1, it has fallen to me to write the last MFW match preview, in which we face Tottenham Hotspur at 1600 hours promptly on Sunday.
Bad luck? Sins of a past life catching up with me? Probably not, more that the MFW preview rota pointed its finger my way.
As regular readers will know by now Spurs are my second team, which is the same for MFW regular Alex Bain, so I thought it only fit and proper to speak with him once more.
The scene is set as in we have zilch to play for but any remaining pride whereas the lads from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium only need to draw in order to secure that coveted fourth place in the Premier League.
So, what do us couple of semi-Lilywhites make of it all?
MP: Spurs only need a draw at Carrow Road to guarantee Championship League football. What approach do you reckon Antonio Conte will adopt?
AB: Hopefully he will be kind and not put out his full strength squad! For Tottenham not to qualify it would require them to lose to us and should they draw, Arsenal go on an unprecedented double-figure scoring spree against Everton.
I can’t see either happening. [Nor me, mate – Martin]
MP: I’m looking forward to seeing Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris on the turf for probably the final time. Is there anyone else in the Spurs squad that you particularly like?
AB: I like to see Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura. Both remind me of Jimmy Neighbour. I also like Eric Dier and think he is vastly underrated by our international manager, Gareth Southgate. If Conte gets his additions then Spurs could be a surprise package next season
MP: Like seemingly everybody, I’ve got more than one Arsenal mate. Have you and if so has there been any gloating?
AB: Most, if not all, my Arsenal friends are long gone and those still around I don’t keep in touch with but over the years there has been lots of banter.
I could never live down being at White Hart Lane in 1972 when Arsenal clinched the old First Division title, then seeing them beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final in the Crown pub in Stanmore.
MP: Many of your family must be very happy. What was their reaction to Newcastle 2, Arsenal 0?
AB: I have three sons and a grandson who all follow Spurs. Two of the four have been in touch and there was nothing but joy from either of them!
There was the anticipated, “We knew Arsenal would blow it as they’re a bunch of bottlers” of course 🤣
MP: We have recently tended to get a cup draw against Tottenham on a regular basis. What might happen next season if history repeats itself?
AB: A cup run would add to City’s meagre coffers unless a miracle happens over the summer, which I can’t see occurring.
I can’t see another City win on penalties, so if the tie did happen it will depend on the round and our league position but Conti likes to be in everything so I can’t see him fielding a weakened team – just another win for Spurs.
MP: Somewhat rashly and with no invitation from me, Alex offered his predictions for Sunday.
AB: Here’s what I reckon!
- 3-0 to Spurs, Son getting the goals to beat Mo Salah to the Golden Boot
- Manchester City to win the Premier League title
- Real Madrid to win the Champions League Final
- As for the EFL play-offs, Wycombe to beat Sunderland and Huddersfield to beat Forest.
MP: You admit you’re not top man on predictions Alex and I reckon you’ve got only one right 😂
In normal times the Player of the Season would have been announced on Sunday, but I was not ostensibly given an opportunity to vote. If I had my choice it would have been in favour of every Norfolkman’s favourite Finn, Teemu Pukki. At least some folks managed to vote and I’m delighted that Teemu was their choice.
Apparently, you could vote online via NCFC Official but I get decreasingly frequent messages from them and at no point was there any voting opportunity openly offered.
However, while I kind of understand to a certain extent that the powers that be at NCFC want to keep an extremely low profile right now, I find this situation bizarre.
What did they want? Intuitive semaphore signals, midnight Morse code on an Aldis lamp or did they just decide to keep everything as low key as possible between our confirmed relegation and the end of the season?
There is bad PR and there is bad PR. This is the nadir by anyone’s standards as the Barry Butler means so much to all of us. Look at the past winners and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
I’ve no alternative but to leave you with this. Even if you don’t like Led Zep, please listen to Robert Plant’s preamble. Although he is a lifelong Wolver, his comments from 1975 could easily refer to NCFC today: