David Hannant: Five new objectives to replace City's moribund play-off hopes
PUBLISHED: 20:00 14 March 2018
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Just before the East Anglian Derby I described Norwich City as 'in form and with dwindling play-off hopes'.
I won’t go into the less than flattering way I described our opponents that weekend, but, sadly, I don’t believe either of those things to now be true of our boys.
Six draws and a defeat since beating Middlesbrough on February 3 is hardly ‘in form’ and despite being one of the most optimistic fans you could hope to meet, even I now consider ‘dwindling’ to be an over-the-top way of describing the hopes of a top-six finish.
Even I, the eternal optimist writing from my perch in Cloud Cuckoo Land, have given up on the top six for this season.
For most City fans, that was the objective going into this season, even if it was downplayed by the top brass at the club.
And thus, with this now looking dodo-like and a couple of months left of the season, the club is in need of some new objectives.
Considering the alternative would be packing bags for the beach already – which nobody wants to see – I’ve prepared a handful of new objectives to prevent this season from being a complete write-off.
Give somebody a thrashing
Last season was far from memorable and produced a similar end result to this term. However, the season was peppered with a fair few memorable results. The 7-1 at home to Reading, 5-1 against Forest, 5-0 against Brentford.
Obviously with hindsight, had these all ended 1-0 the end result of the season would have been no different. However, in the moment, they were glorious.
When looking back on City’s 12 league victories under Daniel Farke, it’s hard to say whether any would immediately be able to be reeled off this time next season.
Between now and the end of the season, I would like to think we can record at least one emphatic victory that we can hold dear and remember the season by. It doesn’t matter who it is again, just give somebody a tonking, please.
Remain Pride of Anglia
The last time Norwich City finished below that lot down the road in the league pyramid, I still had hair. Thinking about it, even Bryan Gunn might have done...
Since promotion from League One, every subsequent season City have ended up on East Anglia’s highest rung of the football ladder.
At the moment, Town are in the rare position of being two places and three points above us - this just can’t remain the case.
The last thing we want to do is give them back the title of Pride of Anglia and an excuse to put another star on their shirt.
Angus Gunn has been one of the big success stories of the season so far – earning himself an England call-up in the process.
What makes this even more impressive is the fact he had not played a single senior game before the start of the term.
However good he is though, he’s almost certainly not likely to get a starting berth for his parent club next year. Some might say Manchester City would be better to let him test himself in a top flight, but were I either Daniel Farke or Stuart Webber I would make it an objective to try and secure his services for another year. They may already be doing this for all I know, but I would be on the phone every day twisting and twisting and twisting the Spaniard’s arm to retain Angus.
Make more use of Wes
From one perspective, it seems fairly clear the writing is on the wall for Wes Hoolahan – he’s retired from international football already and quite possibly won’t be here next season.
Were anyone else in this position, I would support not playing him. We are building for next year, so why involve somebody who probably won’t be among the ranks next term?
However, Wes Hoolahan is not just anybody. Wes Hoolahan is truly, truly special.
For me, the best way to prepare for life without Wes Hoolahan is to keep him in the mix and squeeze every drop of magic – and, more importantly, knowledge – from him as possible. We have young players still learning their trade and those still getting used to English football. Play them alongside the wizard that is Wes and his genius will hopefully rub off – whether he extends his stay or not.
Finish with a flourish
While we treat it as much more, the purpose of football is to entertain. Writing the season off and focusing on building far from guarantees entertainment value. The focus for the remainder of the season should be one part looking ahead, but a larger part throwing caution to the wind, enjoying the game, and most importantly - entertaining.
Are City coming down with Arsenal syndrome?
When I say Arsenal syndrome, there are so many things I could be referring to.
However, this column is about Norwich City, not Arsenal, so I’ll just focus on the one thing – the injury situation.
I struggle to think of fewer teams more unlucky with injuries than Arsenal – to the point it starts to stop feeling like bad luck.
I’m beginning to worry City run the risk of becoming another of these teams, given the number of niggles and knocks players have been suffering as of late.
However, I’ve decided to look at this as short term loss for long term gain.
Recently a few players who have left for pastures news have commented on how much tougher the training regime has got under Farke.
In the short term, this will of course lead to a few injuries as the body adjusts. However, in the long run I’m sure this will lead to fitter players, who can give more on the pitch.
I hope I’m not proved wrong next season – I’d rather not us turn into Arsenal (unless it’s that of 2003-04, of course!)
If Wes goes, he deserves a proper send-off
In the main section of this column, I spoke about the possibility of Wes Hoolahan riding off into the sunset this summer.
It’s imperative that if this is the case, his exit doesn’t reflect that of the man Glenn Roeder brought him in to replace (despite not playing in the same position!)
If he is to go, I hope it is announced prior to his final home game to give him the hero’s farewell he deserves.
Moreover, a Westimonial needs to happen. If anybody deserves one, it’s him.
In my very first column I suggested this should be against Barcelona, so we can see the Wessi v Messi contest the world of football deserves.
However, one would imagine this is a pretty long shot, so while Barca remain my number one pick here are a few other names to consider:
Celtic - they always bring a crowd and create atmosphere.
Ireland XI - of course, led by Giovanni Trapattoni
Ipswich Town - they’ve never defeated him, why not give them one more crack of their forlorn whip?