Ian Clarke: It's beginning to look a lot like... promotion

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship match a

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ewood Park - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is see to Norwich win away...

Do you miss singing this at those great road trips?

Yep, me too.

How many of you stood proudly in your lounge on Saturday with your yellow and green scarf aloft belting out those words and having your own Pukki party as the Canaries secured one of those traditionally very un-Norwich City like victories on the road which are becoming joyfully more common?

I actually didn't see the win at Blackburn live as we were enjoying the Carols In The Cloister at Norwich Cathedral.


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While the director of music picked some great Christmas songs, he didn't go for Jingle Bells (probably fortunate so I wasn't tempted to change the words as I sneakily spotted on Twitter that all was going so well at Ewood Park!)

We also didn't recite It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas. If we had I would definitely have gone all Perry Como or Michael Buble (you can choose your era) and adapted it with another City theme.

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Yes everyone, with just over a week until the big man in the red coat comes down the chimney, I'm really feeling that things are beginning to look like the big man in the black parka is going to take the Canaries straight back up to English football's top table.

Daniel Farke takes the acclaim from Norwich City fans at Blackburn Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Im

Daniel Farke takes the acclaim from Norwich City fans at Blackburn Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Am I getting over-excited and counting too many turkeys too soon?
Possibly.

But after countless years as a City fan and plenty of ups and downs, there's that sense that this season is going to turn out well.

Three points clear at the top of the Championship table and four ahead of third place heading into the latest batch of midweek games is a very healthy place to be in.

Imagine thinking that could be possible at the beginning of this relentless run of matches as the horrific injury toll started to build up.

One defeat in 14 games, seven wins from the last 10, the flying Finn back to his best and the crowded treatment room at Colney starting to have a bit of spare capacity.

I mentioned earlier about un-Norwich type wins - and that's one of the things which gives me most optimism.

In previous years we wouldn't have gone on to beat Blackburn after being pegged back or found a way to overcome Forest or produced those late moments of magic against a Tony Pulis side.

The Norwich fans celebrate their side’s 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow R

Norwich City fans during the club's 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd


There's been a really good debate around City getting to the summit without playing at their best.

We haven't seen the peak of the brilliant free flowing football we know this squad is capable of.

Emi Buendia winner Norwich City Championship victory Nottingham Forest

Emi Buendia takes the acclaim from Norwich City team mates after his deflected strike sealed a 2-1 Championship win over Nottingham Forest - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Ten of the 11 wins have been by a single goal and we've had to be very patient on so many days and endured those squeaky bum moments.

There is, however, so much positivity to be had in finding ways to get points week in week out.

Apart from that incredible Premier League season of 1992/3, it has been the best start to a campaign after 18 games for City for 70 years. 

If that's not a great foundation to build on, I don't know what is.

Farke seems to have developed another dimension within his squad.

Street wise, determined and stoical are all traits we've seen as well as bouncebackability and a bit of cunning at key moments.

Pukki rightly stole the headlines at the weekend but so many of the lads have played their part in getting the team to the top.

Grant Hanley looks a rock, OIiver Skipp is showing us why Jose Mourinho rates him so highly and Jacob Sorensen is growing in stature in his makeshift role (what a clearance off the line after that brilliant Michael McGovern save).

I could go on.

We're still below that figure of conceding an average of a goal a game which I think is crucial as the season goes on.

It is so tight at the top - with a pack of clubs trying to hunt the Canaries down.

If we think it's been hard with the run of Saturday/midweek games with a very strong Injured XI on the sidelines, it's not getting any easier heading into the festive period.

Trips to fifth-placed Reading and fourth-placed Watford sandwich the visit of Cardiff, who are also in the top 10.

The Boxing Day clash at Vicarage Road should particularly be a cracker as the teams sit top of the respective home and away tables.

If we can come through those matches and be in anything like the position we're in now, then I really will be feeling chipper going into 2021.

Good to be back

Having been unable to attend the Preston and Sheffield Wednesday games, I finally got back to Carra for the Forest match last week.

I have to admit my initial thought was that £30 plus a £1.50 booking fee was a bit steep when I'm already paying for a season ticket.

But I know the payments are for next term and that the club is in such a tough financial position at the moment.

Of course I missed sitting with my usual gang of mates at the top of the River End.

Having to wear a face covering during the match, not being able to wander around and chat and the adhering to the other restrictions isn't ideal.

However, all those measures are entirely necessary to keep us safe and allow us to at least be in the ground and see our lads.

Well done to the club for all they're doing in such tough times.

Praise for McGovern

I make no secret of the fact I'm a fully paid up member of the We Love Tim Krul Club.

The big man is quickly becoming one of my favourite keepers of all time - and there's a very decent crop to compete against with likes of Keelan, Woods, Gunny and Greeno.

When Super Timmy limped off during the Stoke game, my heart sank.

There's no doubt he's the top keeper in this league and I think one of the best in the country at the moment.

A Norwich team without Krul is clearly going to be weaker.

I haven't been Michael McGovern's greatest supporter but I have to give him credit for the way he's stepped in at this tough time.

The save at Ewood Park will be one of the best you'll see in this campaign and he's done all that could have been asked of him.

He's clearly massively popular among his teammates and undoubtedly a great influence in the squad.

Finally, may I say OTBC and I hope you have a happy and very safe Christmas.







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