What a difference a division makes
PUBLISHED: 16:28 16 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:36 10 September 2010
With 26.09% (© David McNally) of the League 1 season already behind us, and thirty four games to play, we've had more than enough time to realise that there's a big difference between League 1 and Championship football.
By Tim Allman
With 26.09% (© David McNally) of the League 1 season already behind us, and thirty four games to play, we've had more than enough time to realise that there's a big difference between League 1 and Championship football. Luckily for Norwich we have acquired a manager who has us playing Championship football in League 1 as opposed to his successor who had us playing League 1 football in the Championship, but with League 2 tactics. This change of direction has turned a season that could have been dreadful into one that promises to be very enjoyable.
So, looking on the bright side of life, are there really any benefits to playing in League 1?
For the anoraks amongst us, and I sometimes include myself in that number, the ground-hopping potential this season is enormous. The ticking off of Carlisle and Hartlepool, Stockport and Yeovil on the way to the Holy Grail that is the “92 Club”, needs to be done, but not by me. There's that many -away games in the south this season that my ground hopping tendencies have had to be reined in, so I'll be doing the local ones. I hope to be at last season's level of thirty five matches but this is purely to preserve my marriage, my sanity, and my bank balance.
Tim's League 1 ground hopping verdict? Overrated.
Last year three early season wins on the bounce would mean that week four was a Saturday off as we were force fed a diet of Rio, JT, big Fat Frank and a Sky-tastic Engerland away fixture in Andorra. This season the momentum-ometer has been in over-drive as we've strolled through home games and battled our way to wins on the road to keep the unbeaten run going. No international breaks means we keep on playing and keep that momentum. No international breaks mean we have more Saturday 3.00pm games, and most importantly less trips to Ikea.
Tim's No League 1 international breaks verdict? I'm lovin' it.
“Wemberley, Wemberley, we're the famous Norwich City and we're…er….getting knocked out in the third round of the FA Cup and the second round of the Carling Cup”. But this season we're in the JPT and providing we stay in the top six and don't do something rash like getting into the top two, there's the added bonus of a potential play-off final. It's no exaggeration to say that this is the best chance in years we'll have of playing at the home of football. It worked for Scunthorpe so why not for Norwich this season?
Tim's League 1 Wemberley potential verdict? High which unfortunately means that the glory hunters will be out in force come March.
As we are officially one of the League 1 big clubs, Paul Lambert's training routine should now include rolling a strip of wasp flavoured chewing gum around his mouth and tapping his watch from eighty minutes if we are not winning. He also needs to practice staring out the fourth official as all big clubs play until they've scored, and then the game stops. We've already seen the benefits of this at Gillingham where City equalised just as James Alexander-Gordon was starting to read the final scores on Sports Report. Lambert also deserves some credit for our Jamie's late goals as they have been a direct result of his hard work at Colney in getting those vital injury time minutes added. All we need now is a post match interview complaining about the fitness of the League 1 refs, and a refusal to give an interview to Chris Goreham and we'll be there.
Tim's we are a League 1 big club verdict? After a poor start, with some small club decisions in the Walsall and MK fixtures, a much improved performance in the last few games.
League 1 football also means that we get comedy refereeing from the League 1 officials. Let's face it, if they were any good they wouldn't be at Carrow Road. We've seen instances where they appear intimidated by the large crowd or the vocal City away support, and in a desperate attempt not to be influenced by the Yellow Army they immerse themselves in a bizarre bubble of reverse unfairness, and to even it up, give the odd 50:50 decision against City, or even disallow a goal. And God help us when we get a premiership ref that has been demoted in a sulk to a footballing outpost for a week. It's bound to be even worse.
Tim's League 1 Comedy officiating verdict? - As we are lads. Score enough goals and we won't need to worry about the refs.
Football should be played at 3.00pm on Saturdays and Tuesday evenings at 7.45pm. Not on Monday evening, Saturday lunchtime, Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon or Sunday lunchtime. Or abroad on Thursdays. Or at any other outlandish time to suit the prawn sandwich brigade. One of the benefits of League 1 is that I hoped we would fall off Sky Sports' radar, but as City are still a “Big Club” (see above) we have already had three games re-scheduled to a Monday evening. Hopefully that will be it for the season, apart from the JPT final.
Tim's Sky games verdict? A bad start to the League 1 campaign, but at least it's making a dent in the club debt.
Having a manager with a budget that was blown by his predecessor and a bundle of early season injuries has meant that we've been forced into giving the youngsters a go. If we asked a loanee from Wigan with no studs in his boots, an odd Scottish medical student type with a strange hair-do, or one of Arsene's little starlets to slum it at Gillingham on a wet Tuesday evening we would have seen a loan recall form winging its way up the A11 post haste. Who cares about the poor premiership darlings now? We've got a decent set of youngsters all playing for the shirt, all wanting to do well for the football club and not themselves, their agent or their WAG.
Tim's playing the youngsters in League 1 verdict? A+. It's our team, no one else's and has made me proud to be a City fan again, and by far the best thing about this season.