Time for a make or break mentality for Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
While watching Football League action wasn’t the most palatable option following Norwich City’s faltering weekend, there was plenty of excellent work on show in the League One and League Two play-off semi-finals.
All the sides had a swagger about them, while the goals ranged from lovely moves to fine strikes. The performances felt like they belonged to a higher level – which I guess was the aim.
Equally, you could tell these were vital matches being contested by focused teams at the very top of their game. It felt like there wasn’t a confidence issue in sight – and that was even more of an achievement for Brentford given what happened to them on the final day of the season.
The evening’s viewing wasn’t far removed either.
Ronnie O’Sullivan left snooker for 10 and a half months, returning only for the showpiece event at The Crucible.
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He had shaken off all the pressure and lethargy, as well as a few personal demons, and set about annihilating the world’s best players with ease – all to pay his boy’s tuition fees.
Ronnie was always the favourite – yet he took the situation entirely in his stride.
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Maybe his apparent mental distance helped, but some of the snooker the Rocket pulled out on his way to a fifth world title was a million miles away from past failed campaigns, when he arrived in Sheffield as world number one after a long season, desperate to finish the job in style.
And then there was Monday’s Ryman League Premier Division play-off final, where Lowestoft Town appeared to have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Given their recent play-off past, that was understandable. But if definitely left them wading in doubt-treacle as Concord delivered the sucker punch that is almost a football speciality.
Now I promise this isn’t a poor attempt at avoiding any Norwich City talk – although I was quite up for that following the frustration of defeat to Aston Villa: defeat, I would add, that bordered on criminal. For all the discussions of whether City are negative or overly cautious, the fact they were open enough to allow Villa a 90th minute winner may be the biggest mistake of all this season.
Keeping Paul Lambert’s side below them in the table was priority number one at the weekend. Now City really do need to up their game for Sunday.
Which begs the question – how? Any team in the Football League play-offs will make scoring goals look easy. They ooze confidence and believe they have something in the tank to go and win a game.
In Ronnie’s case, a freedom from failure helped him cope with the biggest challenge of all – and took him to another level in the process.
For Lowestoft, it was ultimately that very fear of failure that prevented them matching Ronnie’s feat and reaching the Conference.
Which leaves City. How will they deal with Sunday’s visit from West Brom and the accompanying pressure? How will they turn around the fact they look unable to score – given they have to win?
How City deal with what awaits will make or break their season.