Ian Clarke: The race to the bottom could help Norwich City survive
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
One thing seems certain as we head (hopefully) into the hectic Christmas period - and that is that uncertainty is certain to be a huge factor for the rest of this current football season.
Sorry if I've confused you with my opening sentence....
As I type, Norwich City's mouth-watering Boxing Day tussle with Arsenal is set to go ahead. So is the trip to Crystal Palace on December 28, as is the visit to Leicester to kick off 2022.
The prime minister has said there will be no more restrictions before Christmas (and that is widely being interpreted to include Boxing Day), so unless there's a dramatic change the Gunners look set to arrive at Carra for one of my favourite footballing days of the year.
It seems that the Covid issues at Norwich have passed and we have to hope that some of the other injured players - especially Milot Rashica and Mathias Normann - will be back in contention for Dean Smith.
With the threat of more restrictions looming, who knows what will happen and whether it will affect the two upcoming away games?
We've seen the new rules coming in for Wales and Scotland which will see more matches going ahead without fans. That has to be a possibility in England.
- 1 Norwich City unveil their new home kit
- 2 'Seriously special' - City fans rave over new home kit
- 3 City's first home game selected for TV coverage
- 4 City gem Aarons advised not to follow the money
- 5 New Norwich City deal will allow pre-match Carrow Road light shows
- 6 Neil hones in on City Championship reunion
- 7 Teemu Pukki's future: The inside track from Finland
- 8 Chris Sutton: The City trio who need to perform in pre-season
- 9 Norwich City transfer rumours: Placheta poised for Championship loan move
- 10 'Teemu has a desire to play as high as possible' - Pukki's agent on City future
Life seems like a rollercoaster ride at the moment and football is certainly reflecting that.
The Canaries will have to defy history to survive in the Premier League come May.
Only three teams in 30 years of the PL who were bottom on Christmas Day have avoided relegation.
You could add that fact to your Christmas quiz - and the trio of successful escapologists were West Bromwich Albion in 2004-05, Sunderland in 2013-14 and Leicester City in 2014-15.
Being at the foot of the table with 10 points from 17 games, only eight goals scored and a goal difference of -26 is hardly a present any of us Norwich City fans will want in our festive stocking.
Anyone who knows me/is a regular reader of this column will testify that my Canary cup tends to be at least half full.
So, as we face the uncertainties and concerns ahead of us, I want to inject a bit of positivity - and a theory which I'm clinging to give me hope of another season in the top flight.
How many times have you said City's best chance of staying up is by there being three worse teams than us? Yep, I've muttered those words plenty of times too.
It's hardly a ringing endorsement of our club to have that perspective - but it's reality.
I'd say there's now a mini league of six teams battling to avoid being in one of the trap door slots.
Anyone with 20 points or more should be fine - and Everton (19) will pick up as the season goes on, I'm sure.
There is a sense of a "race to the bottom" among the strugglers.
In the last 24 games played by the bottom six, there has been just one win and no fewer than 15 defeats.
Leeds look especially shaky at the moment - and have conceded 14 goals in three games - and we all know the history of how they can implode as seasons go on when the pressure builds.
Watford are very much an "all or nothing team" and have lost their last four (and have the same number of defeats as City this season).
If they carry on the downward momentum, they're in serious bother.
Burnley have a couple of games in hand and their issue has been winning games. If the draws start turning into more losses, Sean Dyche's management skills will really be put to the test.
Newcastle remain the club in most trouble.
They've now played a game more than City and having leaked 11 goals in the past three matches, they face Manchester United, Everton and Southampton over the festive period.
Despite their huge bank balance, it's going to be really tough to recruit in the current climate.
The expectation and pressure will be massively on the Magpies as the weeks go on and you sense other teams will be extra keen to pile the misery on them.
So enough of our rivals. What about the Canaries?
Getting a fit squad back is essential. Scoring more goals is obviously key - and players across the park simply have to take the burden away from Teemu Pukki.
We need that confidence, belief, tempo and resilience from the very early Smith days.
And we must keep believing. OTBC and Happy Christmas.
Please turn it down
One of the great things about going to Carrow Road - especially after missing many months due to lockdowns - is to meet up with fellow devoted fans.
The chats in the bars and in our seats before the matches and half-time are a big part of match days.
There's the team news to analyse and the first half to mull over - but also the welfare of mates to talk over.
More than ever I've been aware of issues facing other supporters from illness to how they've had to deal with the impact of Covid.
Being able to listen and share is so crucial.
A big barrier to doing that is that is the really poor quality and unnecessarily loud Tannoy at the ground.
I love music (and like it loud) and I really enjoy going to gigs.
But for such volume to be pumped out before matches and at the interval prevents the chat and banter.
Yes, we need to hear the announcements clearly, but not far too many decibels of tunes.
Well done Dereham Santa
Our very own Todd Cantwell has come in for plenty of stick in recent weeks.
The massively talented midfielder has not looked himself for far too long and I am so eager for him to be back doing what we know he is capable.
In the plight City are in - particularly in scoring goals - we're crying out for the Dereham Deco to be at his best.
I don't know what's been going on behind the scenes but I so hope Todd can get back his full fitness and that match winning prowess which are in his locker.
Off the pitch, Todd has shown the really caring side of his character this week.
In a lovely pre-Christmas gesture, he told his 41,000 followers on Twitter about a festive giveaway for people in and around his home town.
He said: "That is where I grew up and wanted to give back to local fans and supporters."
Todd added: "All you have to do is have yellow and green balloons by your front door. I'll be looking out."
As a Dereham boy, I'd better get mine up at the door!
Top work Todd.