Norwich City have the freedom to go out and enjoy Arsenal game
With Queens Park Rangers taking a hammering last Sunday against a rejuvenated Chelsea, the Canaries are now mathematically safe from dropping back into the Championship, which I’m sure is a relief to everyone.
I never for a minute thought the club would be relegated, especially after the form they showed in the first half of the season.
The 3-0 defeat against Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool last Saturday was the club’s third successive loss, the first time this has happened all season.
Taking into account that we were into the last weekend of April last week and have only two games to go, I think Paul Lambert and the players have done exceptionally well to have gone this far into the season without such a run of results.
The first two goals against Liverpool were sloppy and avoidable, once again proving you can’t make mistakes like the ones we saw at this level. Luis Suraez’s third goal was a moment of sheer quality, and no matter what you think of him as a person his finish from all of 45 yards was pure class.
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So now that the club is safe I’m sure Paul Lambert will be looking to strengthen for next season with transfer targets being accumulated.
The team hasn’t really had a consistent pairing in the heart of the defence all season with the manager experimenting with different pairings, and even playing with three centre-halves.
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I wouldn’t be surprised come the start of next season if this is an area the manager tries to strengthen, maybe bringing in someone who has quite a lot of Premier League experience under his belt.
Today the lads will once again face a very stern test against Arsenal. It will be the first time the club will have played at the Emirates and I have to say it’s a fantastic stadium.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked there on a few occasions and it’s a very impressive place. There is not a bad seat in the house with top-class viewing points and it has the best playing surface in the Premier League.
The lads will come up against the PFA and Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year in Robin Van Persie.
I completely agree that he is a well-deserving recipient of these two awards as he has almost single-handedly kept Arsenal in a Champions League position with some outstanding performances and 35 goals in 46 games.
• The FA have appointed the new England manager. Once again they’ve gone against public opinion, the majority favouring Harry Redknapp as the successor to Fabio Capello.
Instead they’ve opted for Roy Hodgson, who was soon to be out of contract at West Bromwich Albion at the end of the season, therefore not costing the FA a penny in compensation.
Having spent millions on Sven-G�ran Eriksson and Fabio Capello, Hodgson will be a reasonably cheap appointment.
I’m not saying for one minute finances came into the decision as Hodgson has bags of managerial experience both at club and at international level.
He’s managed Switzerland, Finland and the UAE, and he’s worked with innumerable clubs in Europe, including Italian giants Inter Milan.
He took Fulham to the Europa League final before what was probably the most challenging period of his career as Liverpool manager, a club at which he lasted all of six months.
He’s quite a defensive and conservative coach, traits which won’t help him win the doubters over.
However, if he can come back from Poland and the Ukraine with the European Championship, or even a performance which the nation can be proud of, then I’m sure there won’t be too many dissenting voices left.
• Finally, I would like to congratulate my good friend and ex-Canary, Craig Fleming, for guiding his Lowestoft Town boys to the Ryman League play-off final, where they will now meet Hornchurch on Monday.