Ian Clarke: Nine steps to Norwich City’s ‘little miracle’

Norwich City players celebrate during their famous 3-2 win over Manchester City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City players celebrate during their famous 3-2 win over Manchester City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Whether we like it or not football is back.

Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdDelia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Some fans, officials and players remain uneasy about Project Restart.

Arguments will carry on as matches resume – but I’m sure we’ll all be glued to every twist and turn as our boys try to perform Daniel Farke’s “little miracle”.

My head says we can’t do it. The yellow and green blood pumping around my heart says we can.

So with nine Premier League “cup finals” to come, here are nine reasons for hope.

City head coach Daniel Farke 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdCity head coach Daniel Farke Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Farke has form in defying the odds – It’s not that long ago when we never even dreamed we’d be in a position to have a chance to remain in the best domestic league in the world. Think back to those days when we doubted ‘Farkeball’. Remember when the thought of promotion seemed laughable? Seize the optimism from days like beating the champions with a woefully threadbare squad.

Leicester proved it’s possible – In 2015 the Foxes had just 19 points from 29 games, two points fewer than City do now. A truly remarkable run of seven wins and a draw from the final matches saw Nigel Pearson’s team finish 14th. I’d take 17th (and accept we may not do a Leicester and win the title next season).

Pressure isn’t on us – Apart from crazy optimists, everyone expects City to go down. The club has budgeted for relegation. The need to stay up is so much greater for our rivals whose financial futures are based on staying up. That could play in to our hands.

Lockdown has created more of a level playing field – The pandemic and shut down of football has changed so much. None of us really knows what we can expect when games resume and how long it will take teams to adjust. If we can acclimatise quickly and get out of the blocks fast, it could be significant.

Give Norwich City fans something to cheer about 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdGive Norwich City fans something to cheer about Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Case for the defence – Social distancing among our ever-changing back-line has been at the heart of our problems.

A settled and solid protective unit in front of Tim Krul could be crucial.

News of Grant Hanley being injured has naturally come as a blow – but having Klose, Zimm and Godfrey fully fit for the remaining games would be a big boost.

Prove the snipers wrong – The negativity aimed at City after the positive Covid test was unpleasant, tired and yet not unexpected. We are getting used to it – but let’s use it as an inspiration to prove them wrong.

Games are in our favour – Yes we’ve got to visit Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal – but all our home matches are winnable and a good chunk of the games are against teams who may not really have their hearts in it.

Do it for Delia and Michael – Surely no club in the league has more passionate owners than we do. The duo have decided against going to the games as the fans can’t be there. What a great gesture – and come on, lads, make their dream come true.

Pukki Power – At the beginning of the season Teemu couldn’t stop scoring. That toe injury seriously affected his form and the goals dried up. Get the Finn firing and we could be in business. OTBC

Enough, Marcus!

There’s no doubt about the winner of the football hero of the week award.

Campaign groups and opposition MPs have to battle for months or years to force governments to change their minds over policies – and sometimes never succeed.

Marcus Rashford took a matter of hours to persuade Boris Johnson’s administration to perform a U-turn and find £125m to give children free school meals in the summer holidays.

The England and Manchester United striker made passionate and very eloquent arguments – and spoke from a humbling personal experience.

During lockdown he has started a charity which has raised millions for young people and proved a real force for good in these difficult times.

We applaud his efforts – BUT, Mr Rashford, this does not give you the right to score against us in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Meanwhile, among all the unprecedented goings-on in these unprecedented times, there’s going to be an unlikely occurrence in the City v Everton game next week which could be a first in our 118-year history.

Due to the teatime news having to be on BBC One, the first half of our game will be on BBC Two before the second period is shown on the flagship channel.

I’m sure we’ll manage to flick the remote control during the break and I was surprised it made headlines on one national newspaper front page – but will be a good quiz question in years to come.

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