Melissa Rudd: What a ride but it’s time to bring the rollercoaster to a halt
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The two and a half hours that elapsed between City’s players dropping to their knees at the Bet365 Stadium and Brentford beating Leeds on Monday encapsulated the rollercoaster ride that is being a football fan.
Having been at Carrow Road for the beam-back, I’d interviewed fans during that time period. One gentleman was particularly downbeat: “Teams win the league by winning games, not drawing four in a row. If we continue this way we’ll be in the play-offs.”
I asked him hypothetically if he had to put his house on City winning promotion or failing to, what would he choose. He opted for the latter.
He was perhaps at the extreme end of the scale, but I imagine he was one of many whose mood had changed from elation after Teemu Pukki’s glancing header to despair at the thought of possibly being only three points ahead of the chasing pack.
Some of us watched events at Brentford or listened to it on the radio, others followed it on their phone. Perhaps a few fearing the worst even avoided it completely. I happened to be sitting in a satellite truck at Carrow Road editing a piece for the evening news bulletin…and found refreshing a scores app every few moments the least distracting of the three.
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It’s ironic that City have done so well to only focus on their own results, yet promotion was all-but confirmed after the team that played Norwich off the park in August lost their third match of five in a crucial run-in. The fact that former Canary Sergi Canos put in a match-winning display to do the damage for Brentford topped it off.
I may be in the minority but even after that result at Griffin Park I’m still able to conjure up multiple scenarios of how City could still slip to third. Mainly ones that involve a wounded Ipswich rolling over on the final day to allow Leeds to score double figures and pip us on both goals scored and goal difference.
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That’s why I’d take City scraping a 0-0 draw against Blackburn on Saturday. Of course it would be amazing for the party atmosphere in the stands to be reflected on the pitch and watch Norwich turn on the style and swagger to win comfortably.
But if it means protecting a lead or holding on for a point rather than risking it to win all three, there’s no question what Norwich should be doing. The players deserve to finish the job themselves rather than leave us all relying on Aston Villa to get a result at Elland Road Sunday lunchtime.
There are two ways of looking at Leeds’ downfall. Perhaps City can count themselves a little fortunate to benefit from their downfall in recent weeks, but that doesn’t take into account their better results which afforded a few points’ cushion in the first place. Marcelo Bielsa’s men have now lost double the amount of matches that City have. It’s a tired cliche but it rings so true in this case; the table doesn’t lie.
That brings us onto making sure Sheffield United don’t go into the history books standing on top of it come May 5th. Another fan I spoke to on Monday told me while he was sure City would still be promoted it was essential we went up as champions to hold us in better stead for next season.
While that would be the icing on the cake, I can’t see how it will make any difference on how we will fare in the Premier League. It didn’t count for much in 2004 when City went straight back down and runners-up West Brom survived, nor in 2012 when reigning champions QPR stayed up on the final day when Norwich had already guaranteed a mid-table finish.
For now, let’s just hope Saturday proves to be the promotion party we all deserve.