Michael Bailey: It's big week - and doesn't everyone with a Norwich City heart know it
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Can you really have a must-win game so early in a new season? MICHAEL BAILEY contemplates the unpalatable for Norwich City ahead of visits from Preston and Leeds this week.
It was said and written a lot as far back as April. Maybe even sooner. As last season fizzled out it was already clear Norwich City could really do with a good, quick start to the following campaign – regardless of the signings, and taking into account the inevitable prize sales.
That was before the fixtures came out and at a point when – let’s be honest – some City supporters had decided their doubts over head coach Daniel Farke and the club’s new way were already too great.
So here we are, four games into that new campaign and with a ruthless line struck through a League Cup success over League Two opposition at Carrow Road, still awaiting the Canaries’ first Championship victory of the season. Indeed, back-to-back defeats always pose questions – especially when achieved in such self-inflicted fashion.
Dismissing the nerves, fear, concern and even calendar statistics can be a decent coping strategy for some – but in truth, it won’t prevent any of them existing. The angst brought on by such an indifferent start is there, it’s real and no doubt not helped by the carcass of last season.
Likewise it’s something that will need to be dealt with over the course of the coming week, whether you’re sat in the stands at Carrow Road or pulling on a shirt and ready for a run-out.
Football stirs the passions at the best of times but throw in the uniquely concentrated feelings of the opening month, a volatile league table plus untested patterns and you already start to think about must-win games and what can be won or lost before summer ends, never mind the clocks going back.
You can’t ignore the feelings and atmosphere heading into an awkward visit from Alex Neil and Preston on Wednesday, and a more daunting test against the mystical football marvel that is Marcelo Bielsa and his high-flying Leeds three days later.
If City serve up anything like their menu against Preston at Carrow Road last season, the mood will lay heavy in the air: stodgy, slow football and second best to a solid, energetic and over-achieving side.
Yet away from the table and results written on paper, have been more sparks on the pitch than came with City’s start last season. Simple solutions that should deliver swift points.
That is the win Norwich need to deliver this week, and the sparks needed to ensure they catch light before the waters rise too high.
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