Lady Luck has a key role to play for Norwich City
Considering the copious amount of effort and consistently high level of performances that the Canaries have delivered this season, we can but only hope that the potential for success that this 2010-11 campaign promises isn’t ultimately decided by Lady Luck throwing a curve ball in City’s direction.
I refer to the three untimely injuries to important players that Norwich have picked up in the last couple of weeks.
It was bad enough when player of the season candidate Leon Barnett suddenly grabbed the back of his thigh when chasing a ball down the touchline against Reading two weeks ago, and the inevitable news of a serious hamstring injury that was confirmed which means he will have to sit out the rest of the campaign.
To learn that City boss Paul Lambert now has to also rule Chris Martin and Simon Lappin out of his immediate plans is the last thing we need to hear.
It would be tragic if it boils down to something like this deciding City’s fate.
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Of course every side in the country can point to their progress having been restricted by injuries to key players at some point or other.
But not now. Please not now.
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- 9 City squad can expect long term disruption due to Covid impact
- 10 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Cardiff City
City don’t deserve it.
Granted, the Canaries never got going against Doncaster on Tuesday night, which was puzzling after they had produced some of their best football in the second half at Elland Road, as well as for 90 minutes against Reading and also the second half at Burnley.
But as anyone who has watched Norwich on a regular basis this season would more than likely concur, it’s a safe bet that City won’t take too long to get back into the groove considering they always have done over the past 18 months or so on the rare occasion when they’ve dipped below their usual standards.
Providing there are no more injuries to contend with, that is.
The finishing line is not in sight just yet, but it isn’t too far around the corner either.
So be nice to us, Lady Luck. We’ve come too far in such a short space of time for you not to.
Don’t abandon us now.
• KING KENNY CAN DO NO WRONG, UNLIKE HODGSON
Here are a few recent examples of how the media can heavily influence the mood of the supporters.
Take Roy Hodgson. If, like Kenny Dalglish did recently, he had played five at the back against Chelsea, I think you could safely assume that Liverpool fans would have comprehensively derided him for doing so.
They would have accused him of being negative and going against the grain of the very ethos of their football club of playing attractive, attacking football at all times. The Press, in all likelihood, would have accused him of being clueless.
Yet when King Kenny selected that very same defensive option three weeks ago, the travelling Kopites who were naturally thrilled by Liverpool’s 1-0 victory lauded him. And for their part, the Press hailed Dalglish a tactical genius.
More recently, how do you think the media would have reacted to Liverpool’s mind-numbingly dull 0-0 draw away at Sparta Prague last midweek if Hodgson had still been in charge?
The headlines would have read something along the lines of, “Hopeless Liverpool fail to score again.”
As it transpired, “Liverpool ease to away draw,” was one that I saw that pretty much captured the manner in which that 0-0 bore-draw was generally recognised. Of course there have been countless other examples. Sir Alex Ferguson has gone on record as saying that his former assistant Steve McClaren is one of the best coaches that he has ever worked with. Yet whenever his name is mentioned, wouldn’t it be fair to suggest that most people instantly think of him as being the “Wally with the Brolly”?
Which leads me to the point of this piece, and specifically City’s two draws against Leeds and Doncaster over the past seven days. There are two ways of looking at it. It’s either “City escape with a draw at Elland Road,” and “Norwich lose ground,” as some tabloid newspapers had it on Sunday and Wednesday mornings, respectively.
Or alternatively “A magnificent effort from City at Elland Road sees them weather an early Leeds blitz to deservedly earn a share of the spoils” and “It’s another point on the board for the Canaries despite an off-night,” as I see it. The thing is, no matter how you look at it, with 13 games to go, there are only four teams in the division that wouldn’t gladly swap places with us right now.
• WE WON’T BE SHEDDING ANY TEARS FOR MUSCAT
I see that the man with a thousand enemies, Kevin Muscat, has announced his retirement from the game.
Apparently it was a tearful affair, but fairly apt given the timing, don’t you think?
Because Muscat finally called time on his career in the middle of an eight-game suspension that he received for trying to maim the latest in a long line of very unfortunate opponents in an A-League game in Australia. Allegedly. (Go on YouTube and watch it. It’s horrendous).
I was about 10 yards away when he put a stud in Craig Bellamy’s knee at Molineux that day during the 1998-99 season.
It wasn’t nice. Thankfully I didn’t see too many similar examples during my career in which I thought a player had deliberately tried to injure a fellow professional.
But sadly this was one of them.
Iwan Roberts even landed himself in hot water when he admitted in his autobiography to stamping on Muscat in one of the later encounters with Wolves because of what he saw in that tackle. And I think Robbo’s admission said all that you needed to know.
Only Muscat will ever really know, of course.
But in my opinion he really meant to hurt Bellars with that tackle. You could just tell.
It wasn’t just mistimed or clumsy. The intent was there all right. And looking at the horribly deep hole in Craig’s kneecap on the coach on the way home it was clear how lucky he was that he wasn’t put out of the game for a very long time indeed.
So Muscat has gone. Meaning that football pitches are now a much safer place.