The story of Norwich City's season so far...
David Powles A quarter of the way into what will hopefully be a brief foray into League One, it seems worthwhile assessing how City are doing. THE SEASON SO FAR Time flies when you are having fun and so far this season has had all.
A quarter of the way into what will hopefully be a brief foray into League One, it seems worthwhile assessing how City are doing.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Time flies when you are having fun and so far this season has had all.
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There's been goals galore, drubbings (for and against), fan protests and a pitch invasion, a manager out and a manager in, controversial refereeing decisions, players left out in the cold and players brought back in, memorable games and memorable goals and more recently a run of just one defeat in eight games which has lifted supporters' spirits to levels not seen at Carrow Road for several seasons.
If this is par for the course in League One then perhaps we shouldn't be looking to get out of it just yet.
- 1 City edging closer to deal for Giannoulis
- 2 PRESSER LIVE: Cardiff City v Norwich City - Quintilla & Mumba test positive for Covid; Krul still out
- 3 'The Norwich fans are probably fuming' - Skipp on being Mr Popular
- 4 City boss on Quintilla future amid Giannoulis pursuit
- 5 'Three Lungs' back in business
- 6 Solskjaer education and goalkeeping genetics pave way for City target Nyland
- 7 Drmic's Euro mission to seal City exit
- 8 'Best team in the league' - Harris raves about Canaries
- 9 Norwich loan has 'ticked every box' for Ben Gibson
- 10 City hold talks with Nyland
I'm kidding of course, but for those fearing the third tier of English football would be dull and dreary, these first few weeks have shown that it can be anything but.
Of course it's still very early days as far as Paul Lambert goes, but there surely can't be anyone out there not impressed with his start.
Within a few weeks of taking up the post he seems to have quickly identified many of the long-running problems facing the team and done all that he can to put them right.
On the field the players look re-energised and for the first time in years they look like a team passionately playing for themselves, each other, their manager and of course the fans.
He has also shown welcoming signs of not suffering from the same shortfalls as previous city managers.
If the kids are good enough, he'll give them a chance, something previous managers have seemed unwilling to do.
And, just as impressive, has been the way he has handled situations involving seemingly discarded players, bringing them back into the fray if they put in the right effort.
All too often last season Glenn Roeder seemed unwilling to give certain players a second chance, while others got many more.
You can't fail to be impressed with the way he has once again got the best out of Darel Russell and Wes Hoolahan in particular.
We can only pray it continues, because let's not forget that Mr Roeder himself began with no defeats in his first 13 games.
Following a hectic summer I always felt we had a good enough squad to get out of the league at the first attempt.
However, if you had asked me then to name what I thought was our best 11 it would look very different to the one now.
While a handful of players have proved to be a disappointment, overall the majority of the squad look buoyed by their new levels of belief and confidence.
The performances of Declan Rudd, Korey Smith, Michael Spillane, Luke Daley, Tom Adeyemi and Chris Martin have been so refreshing, so much nicer to see them in a yellow shirt than a host of loanees.
Meanwhile Grant Holt, Adam Drury, Wes Hoolahan and Jens Berthel Askou have for me been superb - a real good spine for our first 11.
It is a funny league. Whereas in the Championship the standard is similar from top to bottom and results are hard to predict, there does seem to be more of a clear divide in standards between the top and bottom of League One.
Some of the football has been good, but some of it, in particular the 0-0 draw at home to Walsall, very poor, just like too much of the refereeing.
However, one thing that is not in doubt is the endeavour and passion shown by the majority of players at this level, which is simply not matched by too many of the pampered stars playing in the top tiers of the English game.
It would appear that no matter what league you are in, a couple of wins can take the heat off a previously under-pressure board.
However, while the anti-board protests may have gone silent for a while, you get the impression that it lingers under the surface and a few bad results and the atmosphere could quickly change that.
One thing that is obvious, as so often spelled out by new chief executive David McNally, is that money remains very tight and fresh investment still needs to be found - and fast.
The target must still be promotion at the first attempt. The fans won't accept anything less and I could see a whole host of key players leaving in the summer if we don't go up straight away. We could also clearly do with the financial leg up.
However, I feel we can do it. We have the quality and with maybe a couple of more additions, even if temporary, we have the squad needed to get promoted.
But the key as far as Lambert is concerned is to not just build a team that can get promoted but one that, bar a few changes, can cope at the higher level.
And while we may have to wait a few months to see if it is true, I feel that a Championship starting 11 of Rudd or Forster, Drury, Askou, Doherty, Spillane, Hughes, Smith, Russell, Hoolahan, Martin and Holt could compete against many teams at a higher level.
A long-standing soft spot towards League Two side Burton Albion (courtesy of a former job in the Midlands town and a Brewers mad other half) saw me head to the Pirelli Stadium last Sunday to see them take on Rochdale.
It took me about 10 minutes to finally realise why the away team's winger looked so familiar - it was our very own forgotten man Simon Whaley.
I'm sure there weren't many fellow Canaries fans in the 3,000-plus crowd so I thought it may interest readers to know how he is getting on. It was only one game, but I'm afraid to say he hardly set it alight in what ended up as a 1-0 defeat for his team. Starting on the right flank he got plenty of the ball, but on the basis of this game at least, he still looks short of confidence, rarely taking the full-back on and his crossing lacking any conviction.
Second half it was much of the same, though he did have Rochdale's best chance, a shot from the edge of the area that was palmed away at the near post by the Albion keeper, and with 10 minutes left he moved to centre forward as his team chased the game.
Sadly, I think the most telling thing about this particular performance was that he didn't particularly look out of place in a league lower than the Canaries.