David Freezer: We all want a fitting finale for City but I’ll take a draw against Blackburn
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
What’s your favourite Carrow Road memory? Give it some thought, as that moment’s special status could well be challenged tonight.
For me, it was the play-off semi-final triumph over Ipswich four years ago, when Cameron Jerome poked the ball below Bartosz Bialkowski and time seemed to slow down for a few seconds.
An opportunity to sit with my dad in the South Stand had opened up and I was fortunate that another colleague was able to step in so I could be off duty for the second leg.
As that Jerome shot rolled towards the unguarded net in front of the Barclay, the delirious celebrations were already in full flow as the ball crossed the line, knowing that a first Wembley day out for 30 years was in the bag.
There have been many great moments at the stadium in my lifetime – but that play-off glory will take some shifting from top spot for me.
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Promotion being wrapped up at Carrow Road for just the second time in the club’s history, for the first time since 1960, if a point is secured against Blackburn tonight? That might just do it.
I was 30,000 feet above the Atlantic when Teemu Pukki sparked the celebrations against Millwall in November and only heard the Simeon Jackson moment from our Rouen Road office in 2011, thanks to a weekend shift when I was still a news reporter.
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So it’s Leon McKenzie putting City 2-0 up against Manchester United or Youssef Safri’s thunderbolt against Newcastle in 2005 that I remember from my Barclay days.
It’s Malky Mackay’s crucial headers against Stockport and Wolves in 2002 or that amazing Marc Libbra debut goal within seconds of coming on against Manchester City in 2001 when I was a River Ender.
We’ll all have our top moments lodged in our brains but it’s clear that four consecutive draws has created added desperation for the crowning glory which Daniel Farke’s squad so deserve.
So many supporters have spoken about how time has seemed to drag this week, some even struggling to sleep, as thoughts of what could happen on Saturday night dominate and a feeling of anxious excitement builds.
Of course we all want City to get the job done with a win tonight, to finish in a style befitting of their brilliant campaign. If it’s a draw though, so be it. It’s all about perspective.
The players don’t want to wrap up promotion with five consecutive draws, although you could look at it positively as a 13-game unbeaten run, if that’s what happens.
Farke of course doesn’t want that either and perhaps that does take a bit of the pressure off. They’re not just fighting for promotion in front of their own fans tonight, they’re fighting for the finale that they have earned.
To already have 88 points in the bag is remarkable, so much of the hard work already completed. So if it has to be a point against Blackburn, that will do, it would mean they’re playing in the Premier League next season.
We can all look back on those last-gasp Pukki winners against Millwall or Bolton, Onel Hernandez’s equaliser in the epic 3-3 thriller against Forest or the immaculate Mario Vrancic free-kick which salvaged a point against Wednesday.
City fans have already been spoiled for memorable moments, so even if it’s a 0-0 draw this evening, it’s far from the end of the world. It’s keeping in mind that Farke’s team have already been brilliant that will be important.
That they have struggled to reproduce their best form at the end of an exhausting and entertaining campaign at the Championship summit is little surprise, but they now have one clear focus.
All those tired minds and bodies on show at full-time at Stoke on Monday can disappear into thin air – thanks to the sterling efforts of Sergi Canos and Brentford against Leeds.
It’s all about one final push, emptying the tank, keeping faith in the style which has brought this inspiring group to within 90 minutes of writing their names into the Norwich City history books in indelible ink.
All supporters can do is roar them on, dealing with any nerves or fatigue is for Farke and his coaching staff. Yet this is a group who won at Boro and Millwall recently, who brilliantly won 3-1 at Elland Road, who hung on to tense wins at Forest and Blackburn.
There are few superlatives left to throw at the Canaries class of 2019. They just have to stay true to the methods and motivations which have brought them to this point.
• CRUCIAL GOALS
Let’s hope City can get at least the point they need against Blackburn, as I can’t see hapless Ipswich doing them any favours against Sheffield United.
It would also be a big anti-climax if promotion is confirmed at around 2pm tomorrow because Leeds have dropped points against a rampant Aston Villa – but either way it will take something remarkable to prevent Norwich going up now.
Much has been said this week about City drawing six more games than Leeds, who have lost six more than the leaders, being the difference and you can pretty much pinpoint those goals.
Onel Hernandez in injury-time at Birmingham on the opening day, Mo Leitner’s strike at Ipswich, Max Aarons’ header at Bristol City, Hernandez’s dramatic equaliser at home to Forest, Jordan Rhodes at West Brom and Mario Vrancic’s free-kick against Wednesday.
Leeds are a very good team but they just couldn’t match City’s spirit.
• MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?
Of course there is a slim chance City could win the title tonight. I say slim because Ipswich are involved.
If Sheffield United drop points against relegated Town at Bramall Lane (5.15pm) then Norwich will know victory over Blackburn will not only seal promotion but the title as well. If the Blades somehow managed to lose then only a point would be needed.
We’re talking about a Sheffield United team who have lost just one of their last 11 home games, winning nine of them, up against a team who have picked up 10 points from a possible 66 away from home this season.
Just imagine it though, a former Canaries boss, not only taking them down but also playing a huge helping hand in winning the title – it’s a script you couldn’t write because it’s so absurd, but it could happen.
The only pressure on the shoulders of those Blues players is to impress their manager ahead of a League One rebuild. Agent Lambert, you have one last mission.