Norwich City have ‘bouncebackability’
If you started life as a City fan in the era of the likes of John Bond, Ron Saunders and Roger Gibbons, then you will know exactly what I mean when I talk about Weebles.
If your first taste of the Canaries was when Nigel Worthington was at the helm or Hucks was charging down the wing, you may think I have lost the plot.
So for the uninitiated, they were egg-shaped toys (in a range of different characters) which were very big in the 1970s.
I can already hear people of a certain age singing the tune: “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down..” (if you need any more explanation try Youtube...) Anyway, before I get accused of implying that Paul Lambert’s men have a little bit of a weight issue let me explain why I’m taking this slightly surreal trip down memory lane.
It has nothing to do with the portly nature of the colourful toys.
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But it has everything to do with their ability to keep bouncing back up however much they are knocked back.
Bouncebackability was a phrase first coined when we were last in the top flight but I think it is far more apt now.
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Before the season we were written off as relegation certainties and yet we got off to a great start. At Liverpool we were battered and then got an excellent draw. We got hammered at Man City and then came straight back and beat high-flying Newcastle. And so the examples go on.
In this last week the spirit of Lambert’s Weebles has been as strong as ever.
Think back to this time last week when the Canaries had returned from the Stadium Of Light after a good sound thrashing. It was certainly the flattest performance of the season and there were a few murmurings about how we would respond.
The fine start to the Bolton game will have silenced the doubters. But then came the double blow of losing Ayala and Whitbread.
Two right backs in the centre of the defence and a right winger at full back...there were a few more flutters.
But true to form the bounce back happened. Fantastic character.
• WHAT PRICE FOR SUCCESS?
The pricing for the FA Cup fifth round game has been a big talking point among fans this week.
Opinion is divided over whether �25 is a fair price for tickets.
We are just two games from Wembley and it’s probably about the going rate for what will be charged in other ties around the country.
But others will argue that they are already having to dig very deep to renew their season tickets in tough economic times and shouldn’t just blindly pay whatever is asked.
If City go out against Leicester they will get �180,000 prize money and by going through there will be a guaranteed �360,000.
The quarter-finals will probably all be televised, which would bring in a huge amount more money and so it would go on. If Carrow Road is full for the Leicester game and you average it out at �20 per head (taking in to account concessions), that would be �500,000 in gate money.
Of course there are lots of out goings, but there will still be a sizeable unbudgeted amount going in to the City coffers.
I sense there will be a lot of season ticket holders who won’t go to the cup game and tickets will be snapped up by those who can’t normally go.
So the club will be a winner as the pounds flow in, the casual supporters will be happy as they can see the Canaries live but there will be some loyal fans who feel a price nearer �15 for adults would have been fairer, especially if they have to buy several tickets.
• Hero of the week: Lots of candidates after such a brilliant display on Saturday but the Clarkie bottle of plonk goes to Russell Martin. After starting on the bench he came on with less than 25 minutes gone to replace Ayala and then had to become the senior centre back once Whitbread went off. But what makes him a real hero is that he ignored the coldest weather of the year to strip his shirt off and gave it to some fans who made a special 100th appearance banner. Proper hard.
• Villain of the week: I have always quite liked Ally McCoist so it doesn’t fill me with joy in naming him as this week’s boo boy. But I feel I have to. It’s not that he came in to try to sign Grant Holt. After all it’s a free market and part of the way of life in football. But to table a bid of just �1m is not only laughable but frankly insulting. GH has shown himself to be a Premier League quality player and again proved his doubters wrong. And with prices always inflated in January, Ally was taking the McMick by offering such a paltry sum.
• Highlight of the week: We always knew this season was going to be an enjoyable and yet tough journey. I have been thinking about the journey in stages and in my mind ticking off landmarks when we get to them. The first point was achieved on the opening day, the first win was secured on September 17 and of course the first clean sheet was in the Chelsea game. To get to 30 points is another key point and Saturday’s win pushed us past that. Nearly safe.
• Funniest moment of the week: In 35 or so years of watching football at all levels I’ve seen some pretty strange things. But the sight of a cat running across the Anfield pitch in front of tens of thousands of fans and millions of live TV viewers was very funny – as was the reaction of Brad Friedel. I hear bookies are taking odds on who will find the net first – the moggy or Torres? I know where my fiver is going.
• Prediction of the week: I’ll come clean – I have re-written this in the light of Capello’s resignation (I originally tipped him to stay on for the Euros). So the new prediction is that Harry Redknapp will complete his amazing week by agreeing to take on the England job part-time until the end of the season and then will become full-time boss. Prepare for PL being linked to the Spurs job.