Another topsy turvy week
So this week we have seen it all. A win, a loss, and a draw. Two good performances and one bad one. Two clean sheets. Two record attendances.
Loftus Road was sold out for the visit of the Canaries. Over 18,000 fans, the R’s biggest gate for six years, came to see which of the promotion contenders would prevail, and which record would tumble. League leaders Rangers had not conceded a goal at home this season. Norwich had scored in each of their last 32 away games.
The 0-0 result did not reflect the quality of the game. Both sides played well, without dominating or being able to break the deadlock. Both teams had chances; City survived thanks only to a couple of goal line clearances, and both Holty and Wes had good chances at the other end. Unfortunately Holt went outside his marker and thereby narrowed the angle too much, and Wes put his penalty wide of the right hand post. My friend Nigel, who supports Rangers, and had a good view of the incident, was adamant that this was only justice because the penalty should never have been given. But be that as it may, in the end a draw was a fair result, although both sides will have felt they could and should have won.
But there is no point in dwelling on what might have been, and a football team is only as good as its next game. So on Tuesday night City fans in another big crowd at Carrow Road were licking their lips and anticipating a glut of goals against relegation threatened Crystal Palace, now managed by a certain Mr George Burley. Norwich shaded the first half, and Holt scored a welcome goal just before half time. But in the second half Palace upped their game, scored two good goals from set pieces and fully deserved their surprise win.
As Mr Lambert said, Norwich huffed and puffed but never really got going, and never looked convincing. It was a poor performance all round. The Norwich crowd was not impressed, and there was an outbreak of booing at the end.
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Doom and gloom prevailed. Crisis of confidence at Carrow Road? Is the spate of injuries finally catching up with us? Has the bubble burst? Were we overachieving earlier in the season?
Saturday’s home game against Middlesbrough was a real test for the players and the manager. Both rose to the occasion brilliantly and came through with flying colours. Boro’s coffers were overflowing with parachute payment money, they had gone on a pre-season spending spree, and were the clear favourites for promotion when the season kicked off.
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Even though manager Gordon Strachan had resigned a week or so ago, their squad is still strong, and they were expected to provide tough opposition for the stuttering Canaries. But Lambert pulled off a masterstroke by changing his midfield personnel. Wes and Korey Smith were left on the bench. David Fox and Anthony McNamee were given rare starts. Steven Smith deputised admirably for the injured Adam Drury. Crofts was unlucky when his shot hit the inside of the post but somehow rebounded into the goalkeeper’s arms. And City won 1-0 thanks to a goal made by McNamee, whose cross was turned across the goal by Holt, and Jackson tucked the ball into the net.
This time the Canaries did not freeze in the second half and Boro did not really threaten the Norwich goal. Ward (back in the heart of our defence after his one match suspension) and Barnett coped easily with Boro’s attacking threat led by the new slim-line former Canary Leroy Lita. Kris Boyd, who scored goals for fun during his time at Ibrox, was so ineffective that he was substituted.
So City ran out worthy winners before their biggest home crowd of the season – 25,410. This figure included Stephen Fry, and a rare guest appearance by former Capital Canary stalwart Brian Coker. Welcome back to the fold Brian and we hope to see you more often in the near future.
PS Has anyone noticed that the unmentionables have now dropped to 14th in the table? Or that they have now lost their last three games? Or that they have won only one out of their last six? Or that their manager has conceded they are not good enough for promotion. He has implicitly blamed his board for not giving him money to invest....or waste. He has accused Ipswich fans of unrealistic expectations, and hinted that he will walk away when his contract finishes in six months time.
You hadn’t noticed? I’m not surprised. Does anyone care? I thought not. Town fans certainly don’t. Only 19,000 bothered to turn up for their home game against Coventry. Less than eighty percent of the 25,000 plus at Carrow Road for the visit of Boro. The words “rats“, “ship” and “sinking” spring to mind.
PPS Talking of sinking ships, there was a rumour around Carrow Road on Saturday that a certain well known striker nicknamed “Lame Looney” has refused to renew his contract at his current club and has asked his agent to negotiate a move to Norwich, so that he can be at a club which wins trophies. The Norwich management is apparently not too keen on the idea. “He is overpaid, not worth the money, has no loyalty to his club or his teammates, is often injured, smokes too much, and hasn’t scored for ages” said a Norwich source.
It is understood that the source was referring to goals scored in football matches recently. The same source revealed that Grant Holt is not keen on a move in the other direction. Holty wants to stay at a club that wins trophies and where the players play for each other, the manager, and the fans that feed them...