Winning proves addictive for Norwich City
Just as it’s the easiest thing in the world to jump on the bandwagon and criticise a team when things aren’t going well for them, similarly it doesn’t take a football genius to heap praise on a side that is flying high.
However, it’s nigh on impossible to do anything but wax lyrical about the Canaries at present given their remarkable climb from the bottom of League One to their current lofty position.
From top to bottom, it’s clear the club is now geared for success, and lying third in the Championship heading into the third round of the FA Cup is an incredible achievement. So naturally everyone concerned deserves every last drop of praise that has come their way.
Winning is indeed addictive. If you ask anyone who has been part of a successful side they’ll tell you that, when it felt as though they were riding the crest of a wave, they would have played every day if it were possible.
So as far as the Norwich players are concerned, I’m sure they will be champing at the bit for match day to come around.
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They’ll certainly be experiencing that special feeling of superiority that washes over you 10 minutes before kick-off when you sit down in the changing room alongside your team-mates.
I think I’ve said previously that, when Everton were one of the best teams in Europe during the mid-1980s, manager Howard Kendall used to advise that the best way to quell any pre-match anxiety was to simply take a quick look around the dressing room to see who you’d be going to work alongside.
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Because any butterflies are soon dispelled if you can move along the line of faces and say things to yourself like: “He’ll score goals, he won’t be beaten, he’ll run the opposition ragged and he’ll win every challenge that he makes.”
And that’s how it will be for the Canaries now, because there have been star performers in every department of the team on such a consistent basis.
On New Year’s Day against QPR for example, it wouldn’t be an over-exaggeration or case of looking at things through yellow and green-tinted spectacles to say that Norwich didn’t have a weak link in their team. Every man stepped up to the plate and produced the goods.
City might have won games much more comfortably and by much bigger margins than they did against Neil Warnock’s men, but given the standard of the opposition and the fact they are the runaway league leaders, that performance must rank up alongside anything else we have seen this season. Of course that hasn’t always been the case.
But more often than not City haven’t been found wanting. They have delivered.
And the winning mentality that Paul Lambert has instilled into the team has arguably underpinned it all.
A steely desire to win is worth its weight in gold, and it’s often the reason why underdogs achieve surprise results.
Think of when Wimbledon won the FA Cup against Liverpool. Those two teams were light years apart in terms of quality. And yes, Wimbledon did enjoy a little bit of luck on the day.
But it would have been impossible for Liverpool to have wanted to win the game more than Messrs Jones, Wise and Fashanu did, that’s for sure.
Now Norwich are no Wimbledon, because unlike the Crazy Gang who played the percentage game by routinely bypassing their midfield, City prefer to get the ball down and pass it. And when they do it well, it’s so easy on the eye.
And if you can mix this impressive ability to play with a steely desire to win, as we have refreshingly seen so far this season, it usually proves to be a formidable combination.
• CUP SHOULD NOT HINDER
Question: Is a lengthy Cup run a help or a hindrance for a side that is riding high in the table?
For Sir Alex, Arsene, Roberto and Harry, it’s probably a hindrance in truth — not that they’ll ever admit as much! But for all the other teams, it can only be beneficial.
Aside from the obvious financial advantages, by definition it means that you’re winning football matches. And winning becomes a habit, which in turn increases confidence and morale. Which lends itself to winning even more matches. Which surely can only have a knock-on effect on your league form?
So whichever 11 Paul Lambert sends out at three o’clock tomorrow for City’s FA Cup third round clash with Leyton Orient, hopefully they’ll manage to secure another positive result for the Canaries to help fire them onwards and upwards.
I doubt that anyone will be taking the O’s lightly though, despite them playing in a lower division. Not when that 2-1 defeat at Brisbane Road in April last season is still fresh in the mind. And especially seeing as they smashed eight goals past their opponents in the previous round.
• BECKHAM IS STILL WORTH IT
No doubt over the hot topic of the week – the mad scramble to sign David Beckham on loan from LA Galaxy. By Tuesday evening alone there had already been no fewer than 14 Premier League clubs who had reportedly expressed an interest in signing him.
I’ve got to say I think he’d be an excellent short-term loan signing. Firstly, he’s as honest as the day is long on a football pitch. He won’t let you down, works incredibly hard and he always gives it his best shot. How many other so-called superstars can say that applies – or did apply – to them aged 35?
Secondly, people say his legs have gone. No they haven’t. He never really had any legs. He certainly didn’t have any pace when he was 18 years old, so he can’t have lost it, can he?
And his game certainly doesn’t rely on him being able to run from box to box any more. If it ever did?
But most importantly, he’s still the best crosser of a ball in the world – certainly the most consistently accurate crosser – and he’s also a great passer. If there is one criticism it’s that he attempts too many Hollywood passes – if you’ll pardon the pun – despite him possessing the ability to put a ball on a sixpence from 40 yards.
But other than that he’s still more than capable of gracing the Premier League for my money. Whichever team secures his services for the next couple of months won’t regret it.