Ian Clarke: The eternal optimist’s guide to Norwich City’s survival

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 13 February 2020

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke celebrates victory at the end of the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
18/01/2020

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke celebrates victory at the end of the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 18/01/2020

Paul Chesterton

Exclusive news to start this week - Jurgen Klopp really was away during the winter break.

My wife and I were up in Liverpool for a few days last week and hunted high and low for those trademark glasses and the big smile.

As promised, he stayed away from the cup match with Shrewsbury and was nowhere to be seen in the city.

I had hoped to grab the likeable German for a quick bevvie in the Cavern Club and persuade him to go easy on his compatriot Daniel Farke this Saturday.

I had the script ready.

Jurgen Klopp and Daniel Farke renew acquaintances at Carrow Road on Saturday Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdJurgen Klopp and Daniel Farke renew acquaintances at Carrow Road on Saturday Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

"Come on Jurgen. You're 22 points clear. The title's in the bag. You're bound to lose once this year, so get it out of the way at Carra and help the lovely Mr Farke."

When we got to Merseyside the weather was perfect.

The blue sky and unbroken sun symbolised for me the optimism and cheer City fans felt going to Anfield for the opening game of the campaign.

The promotion party was still in full swing and supporters were only thinking of a successful campaign back in the top flight.

Norwich City players celebrate during their famous 3-2 win over Manchester City, creating a wonderful memory for today's fansNorwich City players celebrate during their famous 3-2 win over Manchester City, creating a wonderful memory for today's fans

By the time we left Liverpool on Sunday, Storm Ciara was doing her worst.

Winds topping 80mph battered the city. The sideways rain meant we couldn't even see the top of the Liver Building and the ferry across the Mersey stayed firmly anchored in her mooring.

That gloom was indicative of the mood some fans are feeling as Klopp and his all conquering world champions prepare to head to NR1.

Well come on fellow City supporters - let's cling on to hope and in the words of Gerry and The Pacemakers (Google it kids) let's sing "here'll I stay" and believe we can achieve Farke's little miracle of surviving in the top flight.

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
09/08/2019Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 09/08/2019

So (with tongue slightly in cheek and inspired by a great tweet from my old mate and fellow fan Malcolm Robertson at the weekend) here's the eternal optimist's guide to City staying up.

David beats Goliath

I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but I can't think there's ever been a time in the Premier League when one team has been 55 points ahead of another at the start of February,

Surely the Reds only have to turn up to keep the bandwagon rolling?
Maybe. But remember the boy and the giant....

City fans will be hoping Teemu Pukki is in goalscoring form again when they travel to Tottenham in the FA Cup at the start of March. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesCity fans will be hoping Teemu Pukki is in goalscoring form again when they travel to Tottenham in the FA Cup at the start of March. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

February boost?

We all know City haven't got the greatest recent record against Liverpool (to put it ridiculously mildly).

BUT here's a stat for you. They haven't beaten us in a match in February since 1980.

Yes, 40 years and five whole games ago.

The traveling Norwich fans during the Premier League match at St. James's Park, Newcastle
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
01/02/2020The traveling Norwich fans during the Premier League match at St. James's Park, Newcastle Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 01/02/2020

All about the timing

What's been statistically our best kick off time this season?
How about a Saturday at 5.30pm?
Think Man City and Spurs at home.

Four points from two games I make it.

Time to keep that run going methinks at teatime on Saturday.

Christoph Zimmermann of Norwich applauds the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Premier League match at St. James's Park, Newcastle
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
01/02/2020Christoph Zimmermann of Norwich applauds the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Premier League match at St. James's Park, Newcastle Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 01/02/2020

We really can get enough points

Only time will tell what the threshold of points will be to survive.

Surely 40 will do the job.

So wins against Southampton, Everton, Brighton, West Ham and Burnley at home (which all have to be realistic) plus three draws and a bonus win elsewhere and we're there.

The traveling Norwich fans during the FA Cup match at Turf Moor, Burnley
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
25/01/2020The traveling Norwich fans during the FA Cup match at Turf Moor, Burnley Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 25/01/2020

Simples.

Euro bonus?

While on paper games against teams still in Europe would seem tougher, the distraction of big games overseas for the likes of Wolves, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City could provide a boost for the Canaries.

I'd suggest success in Europe is the main aim for them all, so come on guys make it your priority and relax against the Canaries.

The traveling Norwich fans celebrate their side’s 1st goal during the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
22/01/2020The traveling Norwich fans celebrate their side’s 1st goal during the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 22/01/2020

Pressure is more on our rivals

The expectations for City (despite my desperate best efforts) are clear.

In a strange way, that could ease the pressure on us and heap more on the clubs for whom relegation hasn't been

planned for.

Our luck may change

City have clearly been the masters of their own downfall in lots of ways this season.

Defending hasn't been good enough in many games. Gilt-edged chances have been squandered.

Those margins have been the difference.

However, there's no doubt that we haven't had the rub of the green so far.

VAR has conspired against us.

And there have been too many little moments when Lady Luck has kicked us where it hurts.

Come on Ma'am, start supporting the Canaries.

Right, if that all helps you, that's great.

If not, just have a laugh at my expense!

OTBC.

Another VAR-ce

Just when you've heard everything in the continued VAR-ce about VAR, the story takes another twist.

It's emerged that teams from lower leagues who have played against Premier League sides in the FA Cup have to share the bill for the system to operate in the matches.

Yes, it really is true and you're not waking up on April 1.

In a bizarre sub-section of FA Cup Rule 23 (j) it states the charge will be £9251 plus VAT and that will be divided between the two clubs.

So the likes of Rochdale, Tranmere, Shrewsbury, Port Vale and Fylde - for who every penny counts - will have a chunk of their FA Cup bonus taken away.

I know they are making a decent windfall from a cup run but it seems mad that they have to share the burden with a top flight giant.

It would be a bit like going to the house of a multi-millionaire and being asked to pay for part of the electricity for cooking.

I hope the Premier League clubs are telling their lower league opponents that they will foot the cost.

Make it a Wembley double

Wember-lee, Wember-lee....

The sub plot to Norwich City's relegation scrap this season, is the dream of a return to Wembley in the FA Cup.

9000 Canaries' fans will be heading down to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on March 4 to roar on the boys - and victory will leave Daniel Farke's men just one victory from the home of football.

That certainly excites me!

And Wroxham could make it a Norfolk double at Wembley this term as they are also just two rounds away in the FA Vase.

The Yachtsmen secured an excellent victory over the weekend against Stowmarket in front of more than 1000 fans and it sets up a quarter-final with Western Premier League club Bitton.

Excitement is rightly building at Trafford Park and we have to expect another bumper crowd in the next round, especially as City are playing the previous night.

Many people still talk about Diss' FA Vase trip to Wembley in 1994 and I really hope Wroxham can repeat that feat this year.

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