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Norwich City’s survival countdown becomes a case for Carol

PUBLISHED: 19:09 02 May 2012

Paul Lambert is all-action as he tries to plot City's way past Liverpool on Saturday. Premier League safety was confirmed the following day. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Paul Lambert is all-action as he tries to plot City's way past Liverpool on Saturday. Premier League safety was confirmed the following day. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

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Has Carol Vorderman written her life story yet? Given that a fleeting appearance on Saturday night reality TV is now a ticket to the ‘biographies’ section of the High Street book stores which have, so far, survived the internet age, I assume she probably has.

On the off chance that it is still a work in progress I think I may have the perfect title for her. On the way home from Carrow Road after the Liverpool game ‘The Search for Mathematical Safety’ popped into my mind.

Saturday looked likely to be the day that Norwich City would finally be able to declare victory in their own battle to stay in the Premier League. City would have been safe by the time they kicked off against Liverpool unless Wigan won against Champions League-chasing Newcastle or both Bolton and Aston Villa avoided away defeats. What seemed an unlikely combination of results had happened and when Liverpool were gifted two first-half goals in less than five minutes it appeared clear that Norwich were not going to get that single point they still needed to cast aside any niggling doubts.

Premier League safety has been taken for granted by most Norwich fans for the best part of a month now. Beating Wolves at the end of March looked like enough and when they burst through the 40-point mark in style by drawing with Everton and winning at Spurs in the space of three days it looked all but certain. We hadn’t bargained for those struggling teams below us to suddenly burst into life. Wigan have beaten Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and now Newcastle, while QPR turned over Arsenal and Tottenham. Had just a single one of those results been different then a much-deserved second straight season of top-flight football would already have been guaranteed.

Within 24 hours of the Liverpool defeat any chicken counting that had been suspended by Norwich fans could be resumed with gusto. The recent Premier League trend of bottom beating top seemed so last month in London’s fashionable West End as Chelsea, fresh from ending Barcelona’s apparent saunter towards another Champions League title, wiped the floor with QPR. Six goals, including a Fernando Torres hat-trick, emphatically put the possibility of Norwich returning to the Championship beyond even the most finely-tuned brains of any Oxbridge qualified mathematical magician.

That Carrow Road hat-trick from Luis Suarez continued another worrying trend.

Those who have had, let’s say, ‘colourful’ seasons seem to enjoy restoring their reputations against Norwich City.

First it was Ryan Giggs; a matter of months after his private life had been front page news for days in the tabloids, there he was scoring a stoppage-time winner for Manchester United.

Just a fortnight ago Carlos Tevez struck a hat-trick to help push his self-enforced winter hibernation to the back of Manchester City minds. And now Suarez, a striker who served an eight-game ban earlier this season for racially abusing an opponent, showed why Liverpool have been so keen to stand by him by getting his own well-taken treble.

The Barclay end of Carrow Road is becoming the place Premier League bad boys visit on a pilgrimage to have their souls cleansed and whichever one of the seven deadly sins they happen to have made the front pages for forgiven.

Norwich had better make sure they mark John Terry tightly next time he is at Carrow Road.


It’s not every day you get a phone call asking if you would like to appear in a Scandinavian specialist magazine, but it happened to me last week.

Don’t panic, it’s not what it looks like; this magazine specialises in football and the editor has been suitably impressed by Norwich City’s return to the Premier League and wanted an article looking at the success brought by Paul Lambert.

The people behind the Danish publication clearly know their stuff. I have had a couple of visits to the website of ‘Tipsbladet’ since giving an interview to them last week.

The headline for Liverpool’s win at Carrow Road on Saturday was ‘Suarez saenkede Norwich’ which, even though I am unsure of its precise meaning, looks like a fair reflection of the game I commentated on. He could not have saenkeded us any more if he’d tried.

My Danish interviewer admitted he knew nothing of the city of Norwich other than the fact that he has been struck by how well the football team has played in the Premier League this year.

It was further proof that just being in the top flight brings the sort of worldwide interest and benefit to the whole of Norfolk which is difficult to quantify.

Clearly Steen Nedergaard, David Nielsen and Thomas Helveg haven’t worked hard enough to spread the word in their homeland about the great time they had playing here.

Without being in the Premier League it seems the only way we could have played to a Danish audience would have been to build a life-size Lego Grant Holt in the Carrow Road car park. Let’s do it anyway – it certainly would not be the worst statue outside a football ground.

Tipsbladet did not want to feature us when we were winning at Carlisle, beating Yeovil or scoring last-minute winners against Millwall. Sadly, as far as I know, they didn’t even do a report on that never-to-be forgotten day when Holt saenkede Ipswich.

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