More grounds for optimism

PUBLISHED: 12:38 07 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:06 14 September 2010

Well it seems that when our boys set out for Leicester on their bikes a week ago they still had Mr. S. Claus lurking somewhere in their panniers, complete with another welcome donation of three points and a further sprinkling of festive cheer.

Well it seems that when our boys set out for Leicester on their bikes a week ago they still had Mr. S. Claus lurking somewhere in their panniers, complete with another welcome donation of three points and a further sprinkling of festive cheer. Sad to say that after ninety minutes of toil in the Midlands they seem to have left him behind, together with their get up and go which, not surprisingly, simply got up and went sometime before Preston swept into the fair city 48 hours later.

As several have commented since Monday's defeat it was definitely a game too far in such a short period of time and whilst as a fan it is wonderful to have so many opportunities to see your team during a holiday period there is no doubting that the interests of some teams, especially those with smaller squads and very long injury lists, are not best served by such a demanding schedule. Unfortunately we fell into both categories by the turn of the year and the run we had all longed for came to an abrupt end, though there are certainly more grounds for optimism once the forthcoming Cup weekend is over and league hostilities recommence.

Finding something to smile about from Monday's outing would at first glance seem a bit difficult but it did have two, if not three, little moments worth recalling.

The first was getting soaked just before kick-off, and no I haven't gone mad - I do distinctly remember there was not a cloud in the sky. I even remarked to friends that it was going to get very chilly once the sun went down, and boy did it! The cause of my getting wet was none other than having one of Razz's huge 'double bubbles' burst on me as, unlike Reyes on Tuesday night, it managed to clear the advertising hoardings and land on yours truly!

The second was grabbing (literally) Leon McKenzie for a pre-match chat and plucking up the courage to ask how long he would be missing from action, to which a “four to six weeks” reply was answered with encouragement from a rapidly-blushing questioner! (Well, he does scrub up well and looks more than good in a suit at close quarters I must say. Either that or someone had left the undersoil heating turned up too high!)

The third was the sight of the three shiny peas in a pod taking to the pitch for their pre-match physical jerks. The referee and his two assistants - see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil- and most City fans present that afternoon were to be left in no doubt as to which the main man was of that triumvirate! How come we could all see the persistent fouling by the men in blue but he just couldn't? No surprise then that the loudest cheers to cut through the gloom were those that greeted the rare award of a free kick to the jaded men in yellow.

I later noted that the place of origin or residence of the officials is no longer written on the back of the programme. Perhaps it was just as cold in Lancashire when he got home as it was in Norwich when he left here after his run around!

Being serious about it I doubt many City fans will have left the ground feeling hard done by at receiving the first 'nul points' of the festive period. Frankly we didn't deserve anything from the game, and several people I spoke to beforehand were fearful that the combination of factors already mentioned, and the gaping hole caused by the absence of Youssef Safri that ripped the heart out of our midfield, would make for a heady concoction that would prove to be our downfall. And so it was.

So now we turn our attentions to the FAmous Cup and a revenge mission of sorts against the Hammers.

Last year's game saw a particularly bad tackle on David Bentley by West Ham's Noble, and a 1-0 defeat snatched from, in reality, the jaws of victory. This season's game might not bear much comparison as both teams have several different personnel and have, of course, swapped divisions. However, despite the Preston game we are currently near the top of the form league for our division whereas they are third from bottom of theirs so it might be a more than interesting match up right now, especially if a certain Mr. Ashton is out there battling for the cause for, if he is, I suspect we will be watching him in City colours for s fair few months to come. If not then the talk of the terraces will surely be of fees, replacements and what might have been.

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