Chris Goreham: It's not that relaxing to watch Norwich City... trust me, Pep
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Pep Guardiola is regarded as one of the best football managers in the world.
His recent claim that he watches Norwich City in order to relax may be the most impressive thing he has ever said.
How can anyone achieve a state of calm while watching the Canaries? I don’t think I’ve ever managed it. Norwich City games are best watched from as close to the edge of your seat as possible.
Take the last week for example. On the face of it beating Birmingham City 3-1 away and then winning 2-0 at Wycombe is a routine couple of games for the team on top of the Championship. Maximum points from two matches against teams in the bottom four looks rather comfortable. So why doesn’t it ever feel like that during the game?
It wasn’t until Oliver Skipp and Adam Idah’s respective late goals that I allowed myself to truly believe the points were safe. Is that the fan in me coming to the surface or a fear of activating the mysterious curse of the commentator?
After the game it was fun to look back on two hard-fought and deserved victories. Nothing calms the nerves like hindsight with six points safely in the bank and a healthy lead at the top of the table.
Yet while the games were in progress there was always a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it could all be about to go wrong. If I was a cartoon character I would definitely have a devil on one shoulder passing on negative vibes.
- 1 MATCHDAY RECAP: Dowell stunner puts City on cusp of promotion
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' spirited 1-0 Championship win against Derby County
- 3 Premier League here we come for City chief Farke
- 4 EFL announce revised schedule to avoid Prince Philip funeral clash
- 5 Farke makes a pact with City squad
- 6 'Our only concern' - Farke reveals City's promotion roadmap
- 7 Farke on Canaries records, Rooney and respecting the Rams
- 8 City boss too busy to worry about his contract at the moment
- 9 Spud Thornhill: Early days, but can City break that promotion record?
- 10 Dowell the difference at Derby as City close on promotion
As Onel Hernandez and Emi Buendia spurned their chances at Adams Park the devil was telling me that City were going to live to regret those missed opportunities.
It’s only at full-time that the angel on the other shoulder makes its voice heard. Norwich City are 10 points clear of third place with 13 games to go. It’s a strong position to be in. Why can’t those soothing thoughts be heard during a match even when there is no crowd? Who am I kidding? Devils and angels have got bigger fish to fry with all that’s going on in the world at the moment. It’s more likely the two voices that compete for space in my head during Norwich City matches are a canary and a dumpling.
No matter how bullish one feels about Norwich at the moment the nerves will return at Carrow Road on Wednesday night. There’s a 10-point gap between Daniel Farke’s side and third place so even a defeat to Brentford would not be as damaging as it looked a few weeks ago.
It’s wonderful when your team wins the league but second place is good enough for promotion so it’s the gap to third that is most important. Sheffield United didn’t seem to suffer when they arrived in The Premier League behind Norwich at the end of the 2018/19 season.
To most independent observers Norwich City are now firm favourites for promotion. Many supporters live their lives by the mantra that a pessimist is never disappointed.
The phrase ‘don’t jinx it’ comes up whenever anyone in Norfolk asks whether open top bus tours were included in Boris Johnson’s recent roadmap out of lockdown.
Norwich City have been going since 1902 and yet superstition still plays a huge part. Supporters like to think that anything from the clothes they wear to watch matches to the food they eat at half-time can have a cosmic impact on the game. I would love to hear whether any fans have ever experienced what they believe is a genuine jinx.
Meanwhile, in The Premier League Manchester City are 12-points clear and have won 20 matches in a row. They’ll win the title won’t they?
“We can enjoy this victory today, then tomorrow, we start to prepare for Wolves," said Guardiola after they beat West Ham on Saturday.
You see, Pep, it’s not so easy to relax when it’s your own team is it?
It was a huge shock to hear that Glenn Roeder had died at the weekend.
His spell as Norwich City manager may not have been the most successful but it was certainly not dull to report on.
Roeder initially did what he was brought in to do. He inherited a squad from Peter Grant that was languishing in the Championship relegation zone in November 2007 and yet he kept them up. The Canaries ended up finishing 17th that season three points clear of a bottom three that included Colchester United, Scunthorpe United and, as remarkable as it now seems, Leicester City.
Norwich City fans all hoped that the flirtation with League One would provide a kick up the backside. It was only delaying the inevitable and Roeder would depart the club half-way through the next season as they slid towards third tier football for the first time in 50 years.
He was the most combative manager I have interviewed, probably a reflection of the results at the time. Sometimes I was on the wrong end, other times it was referees. One rant about Andy D’Urso after a defeat at Bristol City landed Roeder in hot water with the FA.
It matched his managerial style. Popular players like Darren Huckerby, Jamie Cureton and Simon Lappin were cast aside in ruthless fashion. Neither did he take kindly to any feedback on his decisions from the terraces at forums. It all meant that when results took a downturn there weren’t many at the club prepared to stick up for him.
However, there was another side to Roeder. If you could get him off the subject of Norwich City his views on football in general were interesting to listen to.
He also had some stories about his friendship with Gazza, being part of Glenn Hoddle’s England coaching staff and the way he was treated by fans at West Ham. It was perhaps those experiences that made him want to arrive at Carrow Road like a hurricane. There weren’t many prisoners taken in his short but eventful spell in Norfolk.
The signing of Wes Hoolahan was his greatest Canary legacy. Although of all the tributes that came in after his death was announced it was one from Tim Krul that stood out. Thanking Roeder for believing in him and giving him an opportunity as a young player at Newcastle United.
It’s funny to think Roeder’s even had an influence on the current Norwich City team.