Norwich City safe – who to write off next?

There’s no shock in the fact we write similar statements and phrases in stories over the course of a season.

Having perfected typing ‘League One’ two years ago, it took a while to get ‘Championship’ down as quickly. Thankfully, writing ‘Premier League’ hasn’t proven to be much of a problem.

And beyond May? Well it’s been an understandable mixture of ‘safety’ and ‘survival’.

Until my chat with Adam Drury in Tuesday’s Evening News, that is – and please forgive me for quoting my own copy: “… as City look for a top-10 finish on their Premier League return.”

While the line from the club is stubbornly fixed on making it to 40 points, as far as I’m concerned City won’t need that and won’t be going down. Be it on the number of clubs in between them and the drop zone or their consistency of performance, City will be just fine.

The proof in the pudding came on Sunday – giving Manchester United the sort of game they think could define their title charge. So consider all chickens to have been thoroughly and gratefully counted.

Another factor is the list of teams who aren’t so lucky as to sit eighth with 35 points on the board.

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Who would have imagined in July that come March, the Canaries would be looking down on all those clubs with a giddy smile?

It means we can all take in the two points covering the bottom five, Aston Villa’s injury problems and Swansea’s apparent wobble, and enjoy it as entertainment – rather than worry over what it does for City’s own hopes for a second top-flight tour of duty.

My money? Well that is on Wigan, Bolton and Wolves to enjoy a trip to Portman Road next season.

Wigan and Bolton are not good enough – even though they’ll have the odd decent result between now and May – while Wolves’ struggles to find a proper replacement for Mick McCarthy will take effect sooner rather than later.

Based on my past prediction experience, those three should now finish safe with points to spare…

Blackburn have a bit about them – maybe more in spite of Steve Kean than because of him – so I reckon they can count their safety chickens too.

The money and the power at QPR saw Mark Hughes win his first game – at home to Wigan – but then lose to Wolves, Blackburn and Fuham.

Plus, Samba Diakite’s red card on his debut was arguably the most predictable – and funny – dismissal of the season. Not what Tony Fernandes will have had in his mind a few weeks back.

Villa really should be fine, but with Robbie Keane’s loan done and Darren Bent now out for the rest of the season, you wonder about their bottle – and how much they fancy helping Alex McLeish out of 1, a tight spot and 2, a second successive relegation in the same city. Even Avram Grant didn’t manage that.

And for all the mentions of Blackpool this season – it seems their dramatic collapse and relegation was their real top-flight legacy – Swansea managed possession figures of more than 70 per cent at Stoke on Sunday, and were still comfortably put to the sword. They will fall – the question is just how far?

That was fun. Now, what about this Norwich run-in?…

• You know I love a stat – well here are a couple of little ones I’ve enjoyed since Sunday…

Grant Holt has now scored 10 goals or more in successive seasons and all four English divisions.

Only Manchester City have scored more goals from set-pieces this season than the Canaries – with 16 at the Etihad, and 15 for Norwich.

And one for those creaking legs at the defending champions – Ryan Giggs (38) and Paul Scholes (37) now have 1,586 appearances and 328 goals for United in their long and fruitful careers.

It’s no wonder Grant Holt thought City were short of a little top-flight nous on Sunday.