A fine platform for Norwich City to build on
I can’t believe we are nearly one fifth of the way through the Premier League season already.
Having only watched 270 minutes (plus added time) of action at Carrow Road, it feels that we are only just warming up.
Due to cricket and work, I missed the first three away games and Saturday’s “oh, what could have been” match at Old Trafford was the first I had seen live on the pub TV.
But in a 38 game campaign, match number seven edged us close to the 20pc mark – and by the time we have got back in to the swing of things after yet another international break and entertained Swansea and then headed to Anfield, it will be almost quarter time.
So as well as some reflections on the efforts to put the frighteners on the Red Devils. I also thought it was the chance to review how the Canaries – still described in the nationals and on TV as “newcomers” – are faring.
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Is your cup half full or half empty with eight points from seven games?
I think it would take a pretty negative fan to say it has been anything other than a very positive start.
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The pure statistics of two wins and two draws – and ninth place in the league – are enough to ensure that we have a fairly warm glow.
If you throw in some “if onlys” you could be forgiven for being very optimistic.
Had that late, late goal in the dying seconds of the Stoke game not gone in, the points tally would be 10 and we would be eighth.
We were not a million miles from getting a win at Wigan, a point – or even a win – could easily have been achieved at the Theatre of Dreams.
And it is widely agreed that 3-1 greatly flattered Chelsea.
For me the one real off day was against West Brom – and if we go through the season with a bad day at the office every seven games, then there is no doubt at all that we’ll be in the top flight again next year.
I remember hearing the pundits after the Wigan game claiming that our defence could be pulled apart time and again when we played better teams.
Well, 10 goals against in four away games (including against two of the top three who have 41 goals between them) and three on home soil is pretty good in my book.
It’s the same as Tottenham and six better than their North London rivals. England defender Gary Cahill is in a Bolton backline which has conceded more than twice the total City have leaked.
A clean sheet would be a good tick to have in a box and that late goal against Sunderland was a shame to let in to prevent that happening – as well as giving us a few late jitters.
Of course it would have been better to have hit the opposition net more than seven times.
However, again there are reasons to be cheerful when you consider Stoke – including England frontman Peter Crouch –only have four to their name and established teams such as Wigan and Everton have scored fewer.
Indeed Newcastle, who are unbeaten and in a Champions League spot, have only got two more in the “for” column.
The attitude, application and ability shown on Saturday were first class – and I’m convinced those who missed the golden opportunities and made bad decisions will learn from those experiences.
I hope the momentum is not lost while the World Cup games are on. I don’t think it will be and Paul Lambert is certainly proving his ability to keep his players focussed.
• Hero (es) of the week: I’m highlighting 3000 of them. Yes they may have been outnumbered by about 25 to one at Old Trafford, but the members of the green and yellow army were as amazing as ever. On the live feed I watched from the local pub and the radio commentary and on Match of The Day, the chants from the away corner were loud and proud. And whoever came up with the “we’ve come for our scarves” song deserves the freedom of the City.
• Villain of the week: With no dodgy refereeing and a generally positive reaction to City from the Match Of The Day pundits – and veiled praise from Sir Alex Ferguson, the bad guy gong has to go to Carlos Tevez. He encapsulates everything which is wrong with overpaid players. For 99pc of the footballing world (including fans and players), the chance to earn an obscene amount and be idolised is a pipe dream. How dare he refuse to come on to play and show such arrogance.
• Highlight of the week: What a moment it was when Sir Alex was on the touchline looking all worried and distressed and pondering which substitutes to bring on on Saturday. I’m pretty sure he was confident that his starting 11 would do a fairly comfortable job on City and even Wayne Rooney would be able to have a gentle return to the fold and gear up for bigger games coming up. Hee hee – didn’t we upset his plan. To have to bring on Ferdinand, Welbeck and Giggs shows he was worried.
• Funniest moment of the week: My good mate Tim Johnson – legendary Dereham bus driver – is as crazy about the Canaries as anyone else I know. He gets my comedy moment for turning up outside my office at 8.30am the morning after the Sunderland game with a giant cream cake to celebrate winning �44 after betting on a 2-1 win – with Leon Barnett getting the first goal!
• Prediction of the week: One of the most discussed Canaries’ issues in the past few days – especially since James Vaughan’s injury – is Simeon Jackson. I predict he scores for Canada this week and then comes on to get a vital goal against Swansea.