David Hannant: How to cure Norwich City’s travel sickness in quick and easy steps
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Four away games, four defeats, one goal scored and zero points.
It doesn't make good reading at all does it?
Were away games the only way to get points, City would be sat rock bottom of the Premier League, with a goal difference of minus nine. Only Saturday's visitors match City's points tally on the road - with one fewer effort.
There is little hiding from the fact that Norwich City are suffering from travel sickness.
So just how do you go about curing this ailment?
You may also want to watch:
From a certain point of view, it is easy to say that whether you are home or away, you're still playing on grass and it is still 11 men trying to kick a pumped up ball of leather into a net guarded by 11 other men, while also attempting to stop that 11 men from kicking said pumped up ball of leather into the net you are guarding.
It's all pretty simple when you think of it that way isn't it?
- 1 MATCHDAY LIVE: Norwich City complete their double over Cardiff
- 2 City squad can expect long term disruption due to Covid impact
- 3 STARTING XIs: Pukki missing for City as Barden starts at Cardiff
- 4 City boss on Quintilla future amid Giannoulis pursuit
- 5 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Cardiff City
- 6 Farke's advice for Barden ahead of red letter day
- 7 'The Norwich fans are probably fuming' - Skipp on being Mr Popular
- 8 Cardiff City v Norwich City - all you need to know
- 9 PRESSER LIVE: Cardiff City v Norwich City - Quintilla & Mumba test positive for Covid; Krul still out
- 10 Farke reveals Buendia concerns and fitness updates on Pukki and Krul after 2-1 Cardiff win
Obviously, though, as anybody who has plied their trade in the Premier League will tell you, it is clearly not that simple.
Fear no more though, City fans, I think I've cracked it.
Clearly, as has been seen by three exemplary performances at home - two of which saw City take all of the spoils - our boys like playing at Carrow Road.
As Daniel Farke repeatedly says, it is our living room and it is his favourite ground to visit.
So here's what he needs to do - he very simply needs to trick his lads into thinking they are playing at Carrow Road, even when they quite clearly aren't.
Mobile phones in this day and age can do extraordinary things. Various apps and add-ons exist that can essentially transform them into virtual reality headsets. All the players have phones, so one approach could be to load them up with this VR tech and somehow create the sights of Carrow Road onto them.
Then, as the players approach the ground, activate the app so that to the boys, they literally believe they are playing in NR1.
Once it is kick-off time, they'll be so immersed that they'll know no different and play as if they are on the hallowed turf of Carrow Road.
Obviously this would only be a start, it would need more than that to pull of the ruse.
This is where our friends at the Barclay End Project come into the equation. There's no denying that they have done wonders for the atmosphere at Carrow Road, with flags, songs and more. So how about we also dish out flags across the grounds too?
By my reckoning, footy fans just like waving flags regardless of what is on them. So if we can, for example, get Bournemouth fans waving City flags, it adds to the hoodwink that wherever they are actually playing, Farke's lads think they are at Carrow Road.
However, City's poor away form has been as much about the when than the where.
All four of the league defeats have seen City struggle to deal with early storms and find themselves playing catch-up.
So how do we address that? Again, simply with mind games.
Here's my suggestion: before every away game, City's coaching staff must craftily roll forward all the clocks, watches and phones by 15 minutes - any timepiece the players may, erm, clock. This will mean that by the time 3pm (or whatever odd kick-off time the powers-that-be have thrust upon us) rolls around, our lot will already have been ready to go for 15 minutes.
By now you've probably decided that I either need serious help or that I've got my tongue very much lodged in my cheek.
And that is purely because there is no clear and obvious solution to the away day woes.
If winning away games at this level was easy, there wouldn't be eight teams out of 20 in the league yet to win on the road. Including Manchester United and Spurs. Seasoned Premier League sides are, as a rule, hard to beat at home and all four of our opponents away have been just that. Liverpool are blowing everyone out of sight, West Ham could be this year's surprise package, Burnley's home form has kept them in the league for years and Palace play on cursed grounds.
There are plenty of sides over the years who have been able to stay up on the strength of their home form - which will clearly be the foundations of our season. And while we remain empty-handed on the road I honestly don't believe that will be the case for much longer. It is a harsh reality of the Premier League that on the balance of probability, away from home, we'll lose more than we win. But I don't necessarily see that as cause for panic. While our style is more suited to home turf, I firmly believe there are points to be had.
Let's make a statement
A recurring theme of each home game so far this season is that every one has seen City make some kind of statement.
The Newcastle game was the announcement of our arrival - and in particular the arrival of one Teemu Pukki.
Chelsea, while a defeat, made the statement that City will not be pushed around by the big boys.
Manchester City was a statement so loud I don't even need to define it.
This Saturday brings the first meeting of two newly-promoted sides, so it is a big opportunity to show why we were the ones that came up as champions.
On one hand it feels like it is too early in the season to say 'must win', 'six-pointer' or similar, but on the other, clearly it is a must win.
Firstly, it would obviously be taking points off of a team with similar aspirations to us.
But for me, it's just as important for us to be making another statement.
If, like we did twice last season, we take all the spoils, it will make another big point.
Time for a move
Last time I wrote this column I was purring over the performance of Ibrahim Amadou as a makeshift centre back.
I don't take back how colossal he was against the champions - it was a perfect centre back's display to say the least.
However, I think I'm now ready to see him ply his trade further up the field.
Part of me feeling this way is solely down to the penalty he gave away at Palace - it did kind of look a bit like a challenge made on instincts that come into play in midfield, and not one that you would want to see made too regularly in the penalty box.
However, this is just part of why I want to see him in the centre of the park.
I feel at certain points of the campaign we've been a little bit bullied in midfield.
Kenny McLean has done a reasonable job of mopping things up, but I feel Amadou could add that little bit extra bite and steel, to sit along side Moritz Leitner's flair.
For Villa, I would bring Grant Hanley into the fold and push Amadou forward.