Melissa Rudd: Norwich City fans - don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
PUBLISHED: 09:56 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:56 18 April 2019
It’s a rhetoric that’s been repeated by a lot of Norwich City fans in the past few months: “If you’d have told me we’d be in this position before the season started I’d never have believed you.”
But picking up two points from a possible six against teams battling relegation? That's the kind of end-of-season form I might have expected before a ball was kicked in August.
The difference is that by this point I'd assumed we'd all be wishing for this campaign to be done and dusted as City jostled for a mid-table position. Instead, they had been on an eight-game winning streak, are top of the table and seven points clear of third place with four games to go. Context is everything.
Yet draws against Reading and Wigan seem to have created a mini crisis among the Carrow Road faithful. Are these players who have performed superbly all season bottling it on the home straight?
Or are they just facing a bit of burnout after winning 34 points out of 39 and suffering just one defeat in this calendar year?
After dominating possession against a resolute Reading, to almost snatch victory from the jaws of a loss with four minutes to go was quite a feat.
Then to be behind courtesy of a controversial penalty against a side who haven't lost at home since New Year's Day, yet still find a late goal to come away with a point, doesn't scream panic stations to me.
It further proves the resoluteness of a team who know exactly how to dig deep, who have found a way not to lose even when the sparkle of previous performances has been found wanting.
It is only natural that worry has set in when the end prize is so great, but City could still get promoted tomorrow night. We should be riding a wave of joyous optimism rather than fretting.
If Norwich fans are beginning to sweat on a couple of games without a win, how must Sheffield United supporters feel? Since winning at Leeds they have dropped seven points in the last four matches.
After a great result there are always players singled out for praise even on the back of a fantastic team performance. Unfortunately the opposite happens after poor ones, and Todd Cantwell seems to have taken the brunt when across the pitch City have not been good enough.
Cantwell has had an unenviable task, directly replacing one of the most talented players we have seen grace Carrow Road in decades. Norwich were always going to miss Emi Buendia's spark and creativity – any team in the league would.
It's a much-publicised fact that City have failed to win any of the seven games they've had to play without him involved. It's not a coincidence, and it's certainly not Cantwell's fault.
In Buendia's absence, the build-up play seems to have slowed somewhat, as if his team-mates have it in the backs of their minds they can't pick out the South American for that quick turn of pace or one-two that turns defence into attack.
Whether you agree with Daniel Farke's decision to start Cantwell ahead of Mario Vrancic and Moritz Leitner or not, the majority of us back whoever is in a yellow shirt to the hilt.
Social media has a tendency to inflame criticisms and blow them out of proportion. Yes, some have got on Cantwell's back – but it's a minority. Thankfully there seems to have been far more support for a young player given a huge responsibility to help his team win promotion.
It won't matter a jot how City get over the line, whether they do so tomorrow night or Sheffield United make them wait a bit longer.
Given how this incredible season has panned out so far I still think they'll do so with a flourish.