Ian Clarke: Should Norwich be happy to be ‘best bottom of the table side ever?’

Christoph Zimmermann helped his side keep a clean sheet against Bournemouth Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Christoph Zimmermann helped his side keep a clean sheet against Bournemouth Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

For as long as I can remember, City fans have enjoyed having a good moan about Match Of The Day.

There used to be the old "we're always on last" claim.

Then the gripe moved to the belief that if the Canaries toppled one of the "big boys," the analysis would centre on how bad the opposition was rather than how well City had done.

This season, I have to say I generally haven't been able to argue too much with the pundits - who have basically reflected the "played lovely football, missed chances, let in silly goals" theme of our campaign,

Well, Danny Murphy threw a new little nugget into the MOTD mix on Saturday as he gave his opinion on the boys' excellent 2-1 FA Cup win at Burnley,

Teemu Pukki - on the spot at Tottenham 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTeemu Pukki - on the spot at Tottenham Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

"They are the best bottom of the league team I've ever seen," was the former Liverpool and England midfielder's assessment of the Canaries.

Murphy is not one of those ghastly motormouth pundits who deliberately trots out some soundbite to antagonise fans and prod desperately for a barrage of abuse (which such people revel in).

He understandably did get a reaction - and predictably it was mixed.

So was he right - and if he was, should we be offended or flattered?

Norwich City supporters - still cheering on their team 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City supporters - still cheering on their team Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Even the most diehard member of the yellow and green army can't argue with five of the words he spoke.

"Bottom of the league team" is a phrase none of us had hoped we'd hear associated with our beloved team at the start of the campaign.

After the way Daniel Farke's men stormed their way to the Championship title, we were confident we'd be ok this season.

Despite not investing much in summer, the general view seemed to be that we'd adapt better than Sheffield United and Villa and at least one of the current crop of Premier League clubs would slide down below us.

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
18/01/2020Norwich 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

It's still too early to write off our chances of pulling off the "little miracle" which our head coach keeps talking about.

There are 14 huge games to come to get at least 20 points.

With 17 from 24 so far, the simple maths doesn't look good.

Is it possible to beat Brighton, Everton, Southampton, West Ham and Burnley at home and Watford away and grab a couple of draws elsewhere?

Yes we can do it. Let's stay positive.

For me the big question which Murphy's comments raise, is can City carry on playing the football which makes us "the best bottom of the table side ever" or does Farke change his philosophy and try to scrap our way out?

If City had delved into the January transfer market and brought in a new batch of fighters, I'd suggest he was going to try the latter.

As the club has done very little business - with not much more expected before Friday night's deadline - I am pretty certain the "Farke Way" won't be changing.

I'm proud of the approach the Canaries have taken this year.

I'm far from happy about being six points adrift and favourites to slip away from English football's top table.

There are times when lots of the plaudits we have had have been somewhat patronising.

After the unfortunate 2-1 loss at Spurs, Jose Mourinho said: "A word to Norwich. The same I told to Wagner, they deserve a happy ending at the end of the season."

JM immediately needs to be locked in Chris Goreham and Rob Butler's Pundit Prison on Radio Norfolk's The Scrimmage show for getting our head coach's name wrong.

Also, it's easy to trot out such warm words to the opposition after a win.

However, there is no doubt that the attacking, positive style has impressed the football world.

It's those margins which have been the difference. Missed chances and punished mistakes.

We have to regularly reproduce the meanness and organisation which have been there only in glimpses.

It needs be mixed with the beautiful creativity which we know Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell, Mario Vrancic, Teemu Pukki et al have in abundance,

I'll echo what I said a few weeks ago that staying in the FA Cup has to be a positive - and we certainly shouldn't fear going to either St Mary's or the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium,

Success breeds success.

The confidence from the win at Turf Moor alongside the positives from the Spurs game must give us a chance of something at Newcastle this weekend - especially if we can frustrate their crowd early on.

Should City achieve that miracle, I'm sure Murphy and his TV buddies will describe it as the best escape ever.

If we do go down, then surely it will be better to be lauded for giving it a real go than dismissed as the worst bottom of the table team ever?

OTBC.

Sort out those fixtures

I've moaned plenty of times in this column about the way fixtures are organised - and things just don't seem to be getting any better.

Over the Christmas and new year time, the Canaries had five games in 15 days,

During November, City had just one match at Carrow Road in November.

And Liverpool and Leicester will be the only visitors to NR1 during a 56-day period.

The new mid-season break was brought in to supposedly give clubs a bit of a breather.

But it has only added to confusion, imbalance to the season and crazy situations like the one where Liverpool are now fielding a kids' team without their manager being present for an FA Cup fourth round replay.

I understand the football authorities have lots of balls to juggle but for the sake of clubs and especially the paying fans, they have to come up with a more sensible and sustainable solution to fixture organisation.

Support your local team

I made an all too rare a visit to watch Dereham Town on Saturday,

With a combination of work, having a City season ticket, family dotted around the country and other commitments, it is hard to get along more regularly to watch my home town team.

The EDP sponsored Saturday's match at Aldiss Park against Coggleshall so I went with colleagues Chris Lakey and Dave Powles and Dave's son Freddie.

We had a very warm welcome and were treated to a really exciting game with five goals, two penalties, a string of great saves and plenty of full-blooded tackles flying in.

Well done to the Magpies for a great win and fingers crossed that they can force their way into the play-offs.

It is excellent to see so many success stories in local football at the moment.

Dereham had an attendance of 301 - which is pretty decent - but I still think more people can support their local clubs (and that is a challenge to myself in the spare time I do have).

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