Whisper it quietly, but for once Mark Lawrenson was spot on

Mark Lawrenson - pictured top left behind Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett and chief executive Dav

Mark Lawrenson - pictured top left behind Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett and chief executive David McNally - got a closer look at the Canaries in their 1-0 defeat at Wigan. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I’m getting to quite like old Lawro. What?! I can hear the howls of derision from the Canaries faithful from the Snakepit to the N&P infill.

Surely the MOTD pundit doesn’t like us and normally says we’ll lose and tends to concentrate on our opponents when he does his summaries? Okay, he’s not perfect.

The reason I am warming to him is that he is even worse at making predictions than I am.

On the BBC website he guesses scores each week – and if his forecasts for QPR had come true, they would be knocking on a Europa League spot rather than kicking hard at the relegation trap door. So maybe I don’t take him totally seriously.

One thing he did say after analysing last Saturday’s draw was pretty much spot on.


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Lawro asked whether Norwich fans, before the start of the season, would have settled for being four points away from the drop zone with six games to go?

He said they would. I agree. Do you?

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What he didn’t develop, but I will, is the context to where we are at beyond the basic bottom line current league table.

Of course the only thing that matters come close of play on Sunday, May 19 is to be 17th or higher. Everything else is a bonus.

I still think City will be okay.

My prediction a few weeks ago that victory over Swansea would take us over the 40-point mark has proved to be somewhat over-optimistic.

It is the current form which is my big concern and something which has to be reversed before it becomes a real worry.

That is especially true as two of the last six games are against two of the sides fighting to avoid filling the last relegation place – and there is a chance that the teams with a worse current record than us will improve.

I’m making the assumption that QPR and Reading are gone and that the teams above us in the table are pretty much safe.

I feel it’s one from us, Villa, Sunderland, Stoke and Wigan.

I really believe 41 points will be the safety point. So can we get two wins, a win and three draws or six draws?

In the last six games we have done the middle of those – and six points have been chalked up. But in the previous six, we only got four points.

I don’t think we’ll get anything at the Emirates or the Etihad. So that realistically means two wins from four or the win and three draws from the four.

Clearly the visit to Stoke and the arrival of Mr Lambert and his Merry Men are going to be pivotal with a capital P.

Looking at the current form table, you would fancy success at the former rather than against the latter. At the back of my mind is our poor record at Stoke and a bad feeling of coming up against Paul Lambert.

Apart from the visit to Carrow Road, Villa have home matches against Fulham, Sunderland and Chelsea and trips to Man United and Wigan.

Sunderland have to go to Newcastle, Tottenham and Villa and entertain Everton, Stoke and Southampton.

As well as hosting the Canaries, Stoke have home games against Man United and Tottenham and visits to QPR, Sunderland and Southampton.

Finally, Wigan have to go to Man City, West Ham, West Brom and Arsenal and have home matches with Tottenham, Swansea and Villa.

It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride – and I tip Wigan to finally run out of luck.

SAFETY BATTLE

If you need reminding, here’s where we stand – and it is reassuring that we are top of the mini league at the moment.

Norwich: P32, GD -19, Pts 35

Stoke: P32, GD -11, Pts 34

Villa: P32, GD -24, Pts 33

Sunderland: P32, GD -11, Pts 31

Wigan, P31. GD -20, Pts 31

Here’s the current form table over the past 12 games.

Wigan: GD -4, Pts 16

Villa: GD 0, Pts 15

Norwich: GD-10, Pts 10

Sunderland: GD -8, Pts 9

Stoke: GD -15, Pts 5

• HOLT REMAINS A CITY LEGEND – HOWEVER IT ENDS

Forget a dull April with the season drifting away quietly.

While some of us may like the idea of the last few games of the season being “nothing” fixtures with safety secured, that isn’t happening.

There are so many talking points at the moment, and “will we stay up?” is clearly top of the list. Within that topic are the sub plots of how many points are needed to get over the line, should Hughton be more ambitious, are draws enough? The list goes on.

Excitement about RVW’s arrival is also creating a huge amount of discussion.

Add to it, who else may come and go in the summer, the great news about the under-18s doing so well in the FA Youth Cup and who will be player of the season and it’s certainly not a boring time for the yellow and green faithful.

Looking ahead to next season, many supporters are also speculating whether Grant Holt will still be at Carrow Road.

He has been quoted fairly recently that he will still be in a Canaries shirt unless the club no longer want him.

However, with every week going by, I sense his days are numbered.

We all know his family is many miles away, that must be really tough for him.

After three amazing seasons where he was the main man, this campaign has been very different. An on-loan frontman from America has taken over as first choice lone striker and Holty seems really frustrated. He could so easily have been back in the shower before he even broke sweat after coming on as a sub on Saturday.

For so long nothing could go wrong for the talismanic club captain. Now not a lot is going right.

With RVW arriving and reports still rife about Gary Hooper coming, you get the feeling GH is slipping down the pecking order.

I think it must been decided whether or not he has a future at Carrow Road – and if he is to go, I just hope he is given a proper send off and we can all pay a proper tribute to the fantastic service he has given to the club. There must be no repeat of a club great leaving and fans not having the opportunity to say farewell.

If he stays I just hope he can get the magic back.

• Hero of the week: The hero gong is shared this week by City legend Neil Adams – who is now the coach of the Canaries’ Under-18s – and all his young starlets. They have done the club proud and we must hope we see some of the lads come through the ranks to the first team.

• Villain of the week: Why did he have do it? He already has a league cup medal safely on his mantelpiece. His team is guaranteed Premier League football next term and they are just enjoying life until the summer holiday starts.

A defeat on Saturday wouldn’t have been a disaster at all – after all Swansea normally lose to Norwich. So, sorry Luke Moore but for scoring that goal and making all us Norwich fans sweat more than we should, you are the boo boy.

• Highlight of the week: Another point on the board, two more goals and defeats for some of our rivals. These are all positives from the past seven days. But my real highlight has been having my appetite whetted for the arrival of RVW. My colleague Michael Bailey has been out to Lisbon to find out about probably the most exciting signing in City’s history. If you haven’t read Michael’s features in the Evening News this week, I’d thoroughly recommend them.

• Funniest moment of the week: When I played football regularly, we frequently had shirt clashes with the opposition, so one team ended up turning their kit inside out or wearing training bibs over the top or even going “skins” (not pleasant in January at Cranworth playing field). You don’t expect such things in the second tier of English football – but it happened at Crystal Palace at the weekend when a mix-up meant Barnsley had to play in the home side’s away kit. It’s good for pros to get a taste of what it’s like for amateurs!

• Prediction of the week: I’m not passing comment on my thoughts about Baroness Thatcher – but I really hope the idea of having a minute’s silence at football matches this weekend is kicked in to touch. At every ground there would be enough anti-Thatcher-ites to turn it in to an unseemly farce. Football doesn’t need to get involved.

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