Ian Clarke: Mad October will shape Norwich City's season

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Championship match at Carrow

The October fixture schedule will shape how Norwich City's season will develop. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

If ever you need evidence of the frenetic and crazy nature of the Championship, then look at Norwich City's fixtures next month.

Having played just three league games in September and with only three scheduled in November and four in December, there's a grand total of eight in October.

The postponement of the trip to Burnley as a mark of respect after the Queen's death meant one fewer in September.

And the bizarre decision to award the World Cup to Qatar means there's a huge gap in the domestic calendar in the early part of winter.

I've had a flick back through the fixture schedules over the last few years and there have been very few times when there have been so many matches in a single month.

Gabriel Sara of Norwich prepares to take a corner during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Ro

Gabriel Sara was Norwich City's star summer signing - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The latest enforced lay-off due to the international break finishes on October 1 as the Canaries head to the north west to take on Blackpool.

There's then a trip to Reading on October 4 and the visit of Preston to Carrow Road on October 8.

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The Canaries face the crunch Saturday evening adventure to Watford on October 15, with Luton coming to NR1 on October 18 and then there are journeys to Sheffield United (October 22) and Burnley (October 25) before the crazy month ends with Stoke at home on October 29.

That's not far off a fifth of City's whole Championship campaign in roughly four weeks.

Josh Sargent of Norwich is surrounded by opposition players as he has a shot on goal during the Sky

Josh Sargent has benefitted from Norwich City facing sides who play a three at the back. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

And with five of those eight matches being away, that's a big proportion of the miles covered in the campaign coming in that period.

It's pretty apt that the name of October comes from the Latin word for eight.

I'm certainly no historian, but I understand October was the eighth month in the Roman calendar and it was only later in time that January and February were added, meaning October is now where it is in our calendars.

So eight is a pretty relevant number for City's October - and there's no doubt that by the time the relentless month is over we will have much more idea of where this season is going.

What a really strange campaign it has been so far.

Six wins from 10 games, 19 points from the last seven matches, second in the league, two clear of third place and five points ahead of the team in the last play-off spot.

In fact it's been City's joint best start to a season after 10 games compared to all promotions from the modern second tier.

You would think there would be smiles on faces around Carra and we'd be looking ahead to the break with lots of optimism.

But anyone who was there as Dean Smith's men beat Bristol City and kept the unbeaten run going against West Brom will tell you differently.

Lots has been said and written about over the last few days about why there's such a strange atmosphere at Carrow Road when on paper the team is well placed in the promotion hunt.

Norwich City fans in good voice during the 3-2 Championship win against Bristol City at Carrow Road

Norwich City fans in good voice during the 3-2 Championship win against Bristol City at Carrow Road - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

As I'm generally a positive fan, I remain relatively upbeat.

The statistics so far say a lot and there are positives such as Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent on scoring form, Onel Hernandez having a real impact and Aaron Ramsey showing lots of promise.

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Championship match at Carrow

Teemu Pukki scored an impressive brace for Norwich City against Bristol City at Carrow Road. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The prospect of decent investment from our new American friends also has to be positive.

But things are far from perfect.

Too many sloppy goals are being conceded, real fluency and tempo are lacking and fans are far from universally won over.

Despite the idea of a hangover from last season being dismissed, I think it is an issue for officials, players and fans.

Sadly it will take a while for the pain of the previous campaign to be forgotten.

And there's no doubt that lots of people have in the back of their minds that even if we go up, how will the yo-yoing be halted?

Come on, everyone, we've got to be really determined, look forward with confidence and not dwell on the past.

October is going to be manic and will go a huge way to shaping how this campaign will pan out.


Lights off, music down

Let me get one thing clear to start with - I love music.

And as my wife will tell you, I love loud music.

But there's a time and place for it and I really can't understand why tunes have to belted out at such a volume before City home games and at half-time.

I've had a moan about it in this column before and other fans have told me they agree.

So many of us like to have a chat in the run-up to the game - we discuss the team news, what the formation should be, who are the danger men as well as a yap about what's been going on in the week.

And it's a similar story at the break.

But with the tannoy's volume being so high, it means you have to really yell to make yourself heard.

Meanwhile, I was not alone in being pretty surprised that as the sun shone on a lovely afternoon on Saturday, all the floodlights were on.

Surely with energy bills rocketing, every effort has to be made to save leccy?

Fantastic day in store

While there is no football for City this weekend, the club is hosting a fantastic match on Sunday to raise money and awareness for the fight against long-term brain damage suffered by players.

The Football Against Dementia match is between Ken Brown's Legends and Paul Chick's All Stars and kicks off at 3pm at Carrow Road.

Ken's team features an amazing line-up of ex-players, including some who won the Milk Cup in 1985.

Dave Watson, Asa Hartford, Mark Barham, Paul Haylock, Ruel Fox,  Peter Mendham... the great names go on and on.

Players will arrive on an open top bus at 1.30pm, where they will parade the trophy which should be fantastic.

Tickets for the match are just £10 and can be purchased from Norwich City's official website.

So much has been talked about and written about concerning the dementia issue in football, but lots more needs to be done - and let's hope the profile of a match like this will make a real difference.

Please get along and show your support - and enjoy a memorable occasion.