And on we plod. No trees being uprooted, not too much swashbuckling, the entertainment meter only occasionally flicking into life, yet another three points on the board.
Those in the ‘Smith out’ trenches are still able to hold the line after another afternoon of carelessness, blunders and staccato football, while those for whom three points are King also had all of their boxes ticked.
As the team rumbles on, so too does the debate.
But when all stripped back, it was another three points to add to the collection – three valuable ones that saw us edge closer to Sheffield United, who endured one of those very ‘Championship’ afternoons in drawing at home with Birmingham.
Interestingly, Tuesday night’s opponents, Reading, refuse to be shaken off and, after winning yesterday against Huddersfield, are just two points behind.
For City to have won seven out of eight and the Royals still to be breathing down our necks says a lot about the unlikely but very good job Paul Ince has done.
But let’s worry about that on Tuesday. For now, we splutter along victoriously.
Dean Smith cited the international break and his players heading off to the four corners as part cause for the disjointed performance but also praised the grit and endeavour that saw his side home. And was right to do so.
At the back end of last season and even in the opening few weeks of this campaign, I used lily-livered to describe the way this group crumbled when put under pressure but if, nothing else, Smith and Shakespeare have rid them of that unwanted tag.
As ungainly as it may appear at times, this team has rediscovered the art of getting the job done when things are not going particularly well – a must for any team with aspirations of promotion.
Grant Hanley is, by nature, the man for this type of assignment but the fact that those for whom the game is still beautiful, like Marcelino Nuñez and Aaron Ramsey, have also hopped (or been forced) aboard is one of the most promising aspects to have emerged over the last few weeks.
And I still believe this group has it in them to find a way to balance out the winning with some easy-on-the-eye football.
The 20-minute spell following Teemu Pukki’s goal was certainly a tantalising glimpse into what’s possible, and a second goal during that purple (pink, xenon blue, and turquoise green) patch would have killed the game off there and then.
That it didn’t arrive made for a tricky second half, as Blackpool, roared on by a more-than-chirpy home crowd, flitted in and out of the groove that made them almost irresistible in the opening 20 minutes.
In fairness, for all City’s paucity, that was as well as any side has played against us all season, and had Theo Corbeanu’s thundered into Tim Krul’s net rather than hit the outside of his post it would have been a very different afternoon.
But, ultimately, the difference in attacking quality was what made the difference.
A mistake by Andrew Omobamidele went unpunished; a similar error from Dominic Thompson didn’t. Pukki’s finished was both brilliant, yet one we’ve seen dozens of times before.
It didn’t feel like it was game over at the time, but it was.
The second half followed a not dissimilar pattern to the first albeit without a 20-minute period of City domination.
Blackpool remained lively, tenacious, and determined but aided and abetted by the type of $hit-housing that so enrages the Carrow Road crowd when undertaken by our opponents, they somehow saw it through.
And amidst it all, there were some good performances. Nuñez, particularly in the second quarter of the game, was at times untouchable and has the ability to be precisely what we want him to be – a playmaker-in-chief.
His free-kick that hit the bar and the 25-yard fizzer that was brilliantly saved by Chris Maxwell had no place in the Championship. And he was chalking up assists during that spell as if they were going out of fashion.
We have a special player on our hands here and, certainly if he continues to improve at the current rate, it feels like we need to make the most of him while we can.
For all of the current stodginess of performance, we have players in this group capable of taking it up a level. That much is clear.
The big question is whether we’re stuck with this iteration of Smudgerball (™️@AdamBrandon84) for the duration – which may still be enough to sustain a promotion charge – or whether the quality will eventually fight its way to the fore.
If that latter is possible, then Tuesday night would be a nice place to start.
Your words made the game seem fascinating, thanks Gary.
I’ve had to watch on tv for some while now so admittedly more out of touch than I can ever recall but we seem to have arrived back from whence we came to find the Championship light years behind in quality from the PL.
We’ve a strong squad that is beyond debate. Smithy & Shaky are not stupid and we will be there abouts come May. Pukki, Nunez, Max, Hanley, Byram and Ramsey would walk into any other side in this league. So what’s the issue?
Are we all so weary of what the so called prize is, I suspect so. The PL is becoming an irrelevance for most. I love NCFC but find myself looking forward to the day and a rocking Carrow Road when that lot from south of the border finally visit again much more than locking horns with the big 6 and the abject misery that is certain to follow.
Gary Field says
Although promotions and titles aren’t handed out in October, it still feels like a huge month for Deano.
Eight games in 31 days, five of them away from home, including Reading, Watford, Sheffield United and Burnley, could be the making, or breaking of Smudgerball.
The overall sense of unease still exists for many NCFC fans and the next 30 days is highly to prove whether that’s justified or unfounded, and we’ll all be gearing up for another tilt at the so called promised land of the EPL.
Gary, I gotta stop reading your stuff, it’s like looking into my mind, scary.
Gary Gowers says
Please don’t stop, Cutzy. I need all the readers I can get 😀
1 nil to the Norwich has a ring to it and I will take it all day long at a wet,dank Blackpool
For 20 mins we were untouchable just could not kill the game it will come in time
Highlight was seeing master Gibbs come on with 20 to go how we have missed this young lad!
Roll on Tuesday hopefully give Reading a Royal lesson on how to play for more then 20 mins if not another 1 nil to Norwich will do very nicely m8
thanks Gary, A decent sum up We all want better but cannot argue against the points total nor would I want to. I look back over the years, and think did the Womble’s supporter care a jot how they won ? Balls coming down with snow on, Jones doing his level best to maim and end players career’s.
We are not at that style. perhaps, I said perhaps !.. if we do go up, yet again (cringe) with this style we may do better than one season. I will probably change my mind on that one again. Another maybe if the dreaded promotion happens, a dollar or two may find their way over the pond, into the world platform of the Premier for Mr Attanasio’s brand to use.
Lot of maybe’s, but for now, I still say enjoy what we are getting, we have been spoilt , sexy football that didn’t work in the loftier heights .
If we lose on Tuesday we’re out of the automatic promotion places. Badly put together, we’re relying on moments of individual ability to scrape through. We’ll see if “going with what we’ve got” gets us there but if we’ve got any serious aspirations we shouldn’t have to be clinging on for dear life against teams like Blackpool.
And yet if we win on Tuesday we will be on track for the 100 point season¡
Teams like Blackpool are what makes this league what it is and they have a great history so please don’t belittle them on the day they possibly deserved a point
MYSTIC KEV says
Agree with you Gill been on a lucky streak long may it continue but my worry is that can we improve on what we’re seen I have my doubts defence is dodgy even if they did sneak a clean sheet .
Must be your first season supporting Norwich.
I can’t remember a Championship season where haven’t scraped past teams like Blackpool. Believe it or not, it’s how champions win.
Oh and don’t be so disrespectful to clubs like Blackpool. They’ve earnt the right to play in this league. Try and show a little more respect.
By serious aspirations,I mean looking beyond the end of the season. By teams like Blackpool I mean teams at the bottom of the league.Some supporters might be happy with results like this and WBA.. I’ve supported since 1966, don’t see the league title as the holy grail and would prefer us not to be embarrassed every two years.
I have been a supporter since 1959 so a long time, Blackpool had a World Cup Winner in their 1966 team one Alan Ball who then moved on to Everton also a future England cap in Emlyn Crazy Horse Hughes who moved on to Liverpool but they both fade in comparison to Stan Mortenson,and Mathews and then Jimmy Armfield who never played but was in the 1966 squad
William Monk says
My opinion is that we will get promoted, (probably via the play-offs), but on the way we are going to get a thrashing or two.
Richard Garratt says
I have minimal interest this season, to be honest, sadly on a par with the days of Second Division / Championship drifting, although I still watch the scores throughout the 90 minutes and my evening is marred or made by the result, so maybe there is hope. The glory days I enjoyed on Brown, Machin, Williams, Deehan, Walker where Norwich (and any) top division team could sign a fair number of the promising ‘top team’ reserves or recently-international players are clearly gone and we see Norwich’s travails last year are no worse than Forest’s after spending £250m plus. So promotion and building in the Premier League is unlikely.
However, I’m curious what will happen next year if ‘Smudgeball’ gets us promoted. It seems an improvement on Hughton’s pragmatic football and he kept us up and he kept Brighton up as well. Maybe, Farkeball was just too good for the Championship and not good enough for the Premier League, but Smudgeball could be the art of winning and next season we finish out of the bottom three. Dean Smith’s last two clubs are in their second or third season in the Premier League.
I’ll let you know after watching the Blades, and after a few Yorkshire beers.
We’ve all seen it before, time wasting, feigning injury etc but the $hit-housing to which you refer was by far the worst I have witnessed by a visiting team this season. At the death, a harmless push by Lavery resulted in one of the Norwich players stepping off the pitch and throwing himself full length into the advertising hoardings – a shameful attempt to get a yellow/red card. Even the Norwich subs looked embarrassed by these events. If Smith actively encourages/condones such behaviour there’s not much to be said for the future football at Norwich.
Name and shame the player I watched a streaming service and never saw that, and if it happen then the player should be shamed.
I have lived in Blackpool since 1983 but will never stop supporting Norwich
Yes, it happened all right. My first reaction was one of our lads about to get sent off. I’m a Pool fan and agree with earlier comments about $hit-housing. Norwich were by far the worst team to visit this years, to cheat so often and openly with feigned injuries, and time-wasting. One player who went down writhing in our half jumped up as soon the ref ignored him, and Pool went on the attack. Another player stayed down so long the Norwich players were insisting Pool kick the ball out of play, when they could have done it themselves much sooner. At least 2 minutes wasted with the cold sponge. Maybe that’s why the ref (not the best we’ve seen this year, not liking the honest physical side of the game) added at least another 3 or 4 minutes to the crazily low 3 minutes extra time announced. .