Alan Shearer – a Geordie sure on Norwich City, depending on the result
Pundits are paid for their opinions so it’s harsh to criticise – but Alan Shearer’s apparent writing off of Norwich City’s season after four games still raised a smile.
“Any point Norwich win this season will be hard won,” the Geordie roughly said on Saturday’s Match of the Day, in a manner that cast doubt over whether there would actually be any more points for Chris Hughton’s side to celebrate before their certain demise come May.
It must be said, Alan Hansen did similar with Southampton – declaring a home defeat to Aston Villa this weekend would mean it’s “all over for them”. It’s a far cry from last term, when every pundit declared all sides safe each week. Until they weren’t.
Obviously it’s hard to ignore the nervousness around some sections of the City support at the moment. Likewise, my Twitter feed ticked over on Sunday with the UK’s predictions for the three teams to go down this season – there was a strong, recurring feeling for two promoted clubs and one embarking on their second season. I’m sure you can fill the gaps.
Such is the intensity and instantaneous reaction to games these days, league titles and relegations are handed out every weekend. Some of that sticks; some is based on sound reasoning. Some is rash space-filling drawn from a perception from distance.
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After four games last season, City were a point and a place worse off than now. Maybe the most palpable difference is a euphoric momentum driven by one of the club’s most successful spells on the pitch in its history.
Only one of the three teams below Norwich 12 months ago – Blackburn, Fulham and Swansea – was relegated. Wolves sat seventh on seven points – one to remember for Swansea, West Brom and West Ham this season, that. A lesson in how change can only bring short rather than long-term gain – if that.
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Having just watched an awful Reading effort as they escaped their visit from Spurs with only a 3-1 defeat, my admittedly glib tweet suggesting 37 draws would be enough to stay up this season provoked a question from Jim Howlett (@H2OAsia_Jim) – the fewest Premier League wins to secure safety?
Well, Aston Villa’s seven-win, 17-draw season last time out is only ‘bettered’ by West Brom’s six-victory, 34-point effort in 2004-5 – and we all know the story of that particular campaign well enough to leave it there.
I’ve done it myself – last season Bolton had the air of relegation fodder for about 37 games of the campaign, while Wigan went and proved me wrong. Again.
However City’s season pans out, there will be weeks where it looks worse than Gervinho’s hair cut – and others better than Jonny Howson’s (circa April).
So for all those feeling a little wobbly after City’s hard work against the Hammers yielded just the one point and a clean sheet when three were there for the taking, keep a hold of the coattails.
After all, one inspired St James’ Park return for Chris Hughton and even a certain Geordie will be declaring all is fine at Carrow Road this season.
Well, until next time out at least.