Don’t panic - I’ve got Norwich City’s survival route mapped out
PUBLISHED: 17:44 17 January 2013 | UPDATED: 17:44 17 January 2013
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I’m quite surprised that some Norwich fans still remain edgy about the chances of the team being dragged into a relegation dog fight this season.
I know there are those supporters whose glass will always be half empty (or three quarters so in some cases).
I tend to be a bit of a two thirds full man myself.
I know the four-match losing streak over the festive season was hardly what any of us had asked Santa for.
And, yes, Saturday’s goalless draw was one of the drabbest affairs we have seen at Carrow Road for some time.
Of course I share the concerns about the tally of only just over a goal a game this term.
I’m as keen as the next man for a striker – and by that I mean a proven frontman who will cost a few million quid – to be at the top of the January shopping list. (Has Lukaku got a brother who can be flown in to bang in the goals?) And the Premier League is very, very unforgiving.
Pardon the cliche, but every game is tough and every point has to be earned.
Norwich remain a team who most other sides in the top flight think they should beat. To have got to 26 points so far is a real achievement.
All those factors which the doubters will utter are valid and any complacency could lead to a very large bite on the behind.
I see no reason why the usual points tally of 40 won’t be the “safety mark” again this term.
With QPR on 14, Reading on 16 and Villa and Wigan on 19, I can’t see the bar being pushed up much higher.
So the key point is to get over that line as quickly as possible and then really push on to try to better last year’s finishing position.
Tough ask? Yes.
Achievable? I’d say so.
Well in the spirit of being a reassuring soul, I’ve done my guide to getting the points we need for survival – and helping even the biggest worrier to chill out.
So put the date of April 6 in your diary and the win over Swansea takes CH’s men to another season in the top flight.
Liverpool away (lose). I know Holty earned a point at Anfield last season but I don’t fancy it this season (still on 26 points).
Spurs home (draw). Bale won’t do what he did last year again and we can get a point (up to 27).
QPR away (draw). It will be a scrap but the way we are defending should mean a draw can be secured (28).
Fulham home (win). The players should be well up for revenge after the opening day calamity (31).
Everton home (draw). They are the draw specialists this season and another “all-square” seems likely (32).
Man Utd away (lose). Fergie’s men will be pumped to get their own back after our victory at CR and I fear only one outcome (32).
Southampton home (win). Another scrap will be inevitable but three points ought to be achievable (35).
Sunderland away (lose). Not a happy hunting ground up there and another north east reverse is on the cards (35).
Wigan away (win). Wigan will have their annual push for safety but we will get them just before it really kicks in (38).
Swansea home (win). Over the line we go! City are making a habit of doubling the Swans and we’ll do it in style to cross the threshold (41).
Arsenal away (lose). Another revenge mission and another defeat (41).
Reading home (win). By then the Royals will be struggling badly and we should be able to take advantage. (44).
Stoke away (lose). Not a happy hunting ground and we’ll come second best (44).
Villa home (win). Bye bye Paul Lambert and this victory could prove seriously bad for him (47).
WBA home (draw). The Baggies could be the unofficial team of the year by then and the last point we will get in the season will be very well earned (48).
Man City away (lose). We seem certain to be part of a massive day at the Etihad. Imagine if there is the same drama as the final day of last season? (48 – and a very successful season thank you).
• SEASON TICKET PRICE HIKE COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
After nearly 43 years on this fair planet, no-one has ever told me how long a piece of string actually is.
And it appears that the question of what is a fair price to watch football is nearly as unclear.
Manchester City sent back 900 tickets to Arsenal last week as they felt £62 was too much for the league game at the Emirates.
Luton fans are moaning that we should all have to pay more than a tenner for the cup game so they can bank more dosh.
As I finish this column, City have just published details of next year’s season ticket prices.
I haven’t had a chance to study all the figures in detail but it appears the rise is about 10pc.
The club has done lots of dressing up with comparing the average price per match on a season ticket with that of a casual seat.
There is also a plea for fans to pay £1 a game to help the Academy.
A few weeks ago I called in this column for prices to be frozen – and I still think that should have happened.
We all dig very, very deep to pay to see our team along with all the add on costs for each match. And then there are the extras of cup games and away fixtures.
Early reaction from fans has been mixed.
Some are saying we should be prepared to pay more to watch top flight football.
Others are not going to renew because of the rise.
The club knows those on the waiting list will take up the slack – but I still feel the loyal fans are taking a disproportionate hit.
The club has been great over the cup prices and I feel with all the millions and millions pouring in from TV money, the inflation-busting rise could have been avoided.
• Hero of the week: So how many layers did you wear at the game on Saturday? Some fans around me had five and even six – and even I (who tends to dress fairly light for footy) had a T-shirt, jumper and coat on as temperatures plunged. So, full credit to the football fans taking part in the Shorts for Heroes challenge. They have had their legs out at every match they have been to this season in aid of Help For Heroes. Proper hard.
• Villain of the week: I’ll talk more about it in my second piece at the bottom, but my boo boy gong this week goes to the Luton fans who complained about Norwich’s pricing for the FA Cup game next week. Apparently charging a tenner could rob them of income. Well, maybe they would have preferred to have played at a ground where prices are kept at full whack and thousands of seats are empty.
• Highlight of the week: Looking for highlights from Saturday’s match was a bit like finding straws for poor old Paul Lambert to clutch at this season. So I guess keeping a clean sheet and getting what could be a vital point and stopping the rot of league defeats were reasons to be cheerful.
• Funniest moment of the week: I see a whole range of things from my office window overlooking Dereham High Street, plenty of which make me chuckle. But the smiling face of Grant Holt from a bus window took it to a new level! My old mate and Canary supporting legend Tim Johnson was behind the real “laugh out loud” moment as he pulled up outside one afternoon. Green Army!
• Prediction of the week: Can you believe we are more than half way through January and yet we still haven’t had a league penalty this season? Yes, 22 games have gone and even with my poor maths I reckon that is just shy of 2,000 minutes. We have had some really good shouts for spot kicks but for some reason the refs have chosen not to put the whistle to their mouths. Well Michael Oliver will change all that – and in front of the Kop on Saturday.