Warm weather interlude is over, 12 cup finals to go
As Norwich City’s players and staff returned rejuvenated from their short break in the sun in Abu Dhabi, they were able to reflect on the fact that with two thirds of the season now passed, they were about to enter the final, critical 12 games which will shape the destiny of our beloved football club for the next few years.
The Canaries now sit in 14th place in the Premier League, and have amassed 29 points from 26 games played so far. They have 12 more games to go before the end of the season. The conventional wisdom is that 40 points are needed to ensure we finish in the top 17 places in the Premier League and are not relegated. That means we have to garner a further 11 points from 12 games.
Four wins should suffice. Two or three wins and a couple of draws might do the trick, although many supporters will be consulting their doctors about severely bitten down finger nails if that is the case. And less than two or three wins and a couple of draws will induce an epidemic in Norfolk, not only of severely bitten down finger nails, but of severely bitten down toenails too.
The prize for staying up is awesome. The new TV deal on offer promises a minimum payment of about £60m for our club next season. That will enable us to clear our outstanding debts accrued in the past, and lay the foundations for a successful future. It will widen the gap between the “Haves” in the Premier League and the “Have not’s” in the lower divisions. This will provide any club relegated from the Premier League with the resources to bounce back immediately by virtue of superior spending power. Whether this is a good thing for the game is a matter for debate, but should (perish the thought) our club ever be relegated I for one would rather we had the resources to come straight back up rather than struggle and scrabble for pennies to enable us to do so.
It is pointless and counter-productive to speculate about which of our remaining games are the most likely to yield points and which are lost causes. From now on each and every game is a cup final and should be treated and contested as such. We are in a veritable scramble for points, and should do whatever is necessary to crawl our way to safety. I should be happy to win a poor game or two in an ugly manner with an own goal in the last minute. Once those points are in the bag, the players, management and supporters can relax and turn their thoughts to lying in the sun on a beach in Mundesley, Marbella, Majorca, Monterey Bay, Muscat or wherever in the summer. Until we have those points, our nerves will be jangling and we will be forced to check anxiously every week for the results of games involving QPR, Wigan, Villa and the other relegation candidates.
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We supporters can play our part by getting behind our team and encouraging them in their quest for points. Please for the moment let us concentrate less on whether the manager is too cautious and should play two up front, whether Holt’s best days are behind him, or whether we have too many goalkeepers on our books, and more on whether we can keep clean sheets in our next few matches and nick a goal at the end. Three points against Everton on Saturday would be a good start to what is likely to become a very important few weeks for Norwich City Football Club. Fingers and toes crossed please.
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