High tempo approach can help shake off flat feeling at Carrow Road
14:45 14 February 2013
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So when did things start going so flat? It isn’t that long since Manchester United and Arsenal were dispatched at Carrow Road and the ground was rocking.
Remember when the Canaries shared the longest unbeaten run in Europe with Barcelona? There was a good buzz around the place then – and that was only just before Christmas.
Yet now as we enter the final third of the campaign, there is something of a sad cloud of gathering doom hanging over the city.
I know plenty of you were thinking back at the end of Saturday’s game to when you had last seen such a poor, insipid and utterly forgettable match.
As I said in my highlights section across the page. yes it was another point (which could ultimately be vital) and it was another clean sheet and QPR, Reading and Wigan all lost.
It was just the turgidness of the performance – from both sides – which was so disappointing.
The atmosphere was as flat as a Shrove Tuesday pancake and there was no real expectation that things were going to improve.
How many chances did either side have? How many times did you get on your feet?
Is this what being in the Premier League is all about? Is this what all the hard work of fighting out of League One and the Championship has led to?
Does there come a point when maintaining top flight status means you have to resort to grinding out results to get the points on the board?
Maybe that’s the case.
But I believe there has to be an argument for “going for it” more. Get the tempo up. Get in the other team’s faces and drive forward.
It worked against Spurs only two weeks ago – so it must be the approach against the likes of Fulham, QPR and Newcastle.
I know Fulham came with a plan but too often our players looked sideways and backwards and there was a distinct lack of positivity.
The one spark on the day came when Kei Kamara burst on to the scene.
Of course he was excited and wanted to prove a point – and a bloke behind me did compare him with a new born giraffe which burst out and ran around as he experienced new life.
And how we could all do with some of that boundless exuberance.
I still think Norwich will survive – but we are heading towards squeaky bum time during the rest of February and March, April and early May.
A few weeks ago I mapped out what I thought at the time would be our route to survival and predicted it would be achieved with victory over Swansea on April 6.
I had banked on a defeat against Liverpool (although not as bad as it turned out to be) and was actually right with the guess of a draw at home to Spurs.
But I had expected two wins at QPR and at home to Fulham. So that’s four points dropped in my calculator.
What has been more worrying has been the lack of goals and also some of the results that the likes of Southampton, Reading and even Villa have picked up.
Momentum is a massive thing in football.
If it is going in the right direction for you it is massive, especially at this time of the season.
If it goes the other way it can be a big problem.
Having 29 points from 26 games is pretty respectable – and a point a game from here onwards will do the job, thank you.
But with trips to Old Trafford, Emirates, the Britannia Stadium and the Etihad among them, you sense some wins in other games are much needed.
I have done a quick bit of maths and it gives me the result that City will survive by one point. Too close for comfort eh?
Based on current form since January 1, City will end the season with 37 points. Would you be happy with that haul? No, me neither.
Well, if the trends continue as they are then Wigan will actually end the term on 27 points.
QPR will struggle up to 31 and Mr Lambert’s merry men will miss the cut on 36.
Let’s avoid such a nervy finish and start picking up those vital points sooner – and lift the gloom.
• I ALMOST PAID THE PENALTY FOR DOING MY HOMEWORK
I’m pleased to say that as I edge towards being 43, I have never been jailed. Okay, through my work I have been in prisons (but fortunately have been able to head home after a tour round).
Two weeks ago I got a sniff that it may change. I didn’t rob a bank, I wasn’t involved with a large scale fraud and I didn’t lift a finger to hurt anyone your honour.
In fact, I was actually researching for my last column. Confused and baffled? Yes, you and me both.
You may recall that I was writing about penalty kicks and the fact that City have not had any this season.
Still not making sense? Let me continue. I thought it would be worth having a look at how many spot kicks over top flight teams have been awarded and see how much City had missed out.
So as is the way of the world today, I did a quick internet trawl for a reputable soccer stats website. I didn’t intend plagiarism. I wasn’t seeking to pass off my column as a work of literary genius which had taken months of forensic work to put together. That is really obvious to you all each fortnight I’m sure.
All I wanted was a quick run down on penalties given. I found the facts and thought I would copy them over to a document and print out – and that’s where my brush with incarceration started.
The moment I pressed copy, my computer screen went grey and I got a message from “Interpol Ciber Crime” (yes, I spotted the spelling too) and it told me I had violated copyright laws and could face between two and nine years loss of liberty.
Various other threats were made and my computer was very much frozen out. I did the re-boot but I was locked out – and facing up to being locked up.
Fortunately I got to our IT men before the men with handcuffs got to me and the scam was uncovered. And the main thing was I still got to see City v Spurs in time!
• Hero of the week: I’m so pleased for Wes Hoolahan that he scored his first goal for Ireland last week. We have all been amazed by the number of times the little wizard has been overlooked by his country over the years. And so it was great to see him net, especially as it was such a terrific finish. Now Wes, please start shooting like that for City.
• Villain of the week: I’m no great fan of Celtic but I hate injustices in football. And I think the Scots were victims of some of the worst refereeing I can remember on Tuesday night. Those cynical Juventus defenders were guilty time and time again of conceding clear penalties against Gary Hooper and other Celtic players. The officials continually ignored the constant holding in the box and showed shocking inconsistency throughout the night.
• Highlight of the week: Another point and another clean sheet and defeats for three of our rivals would probably be in the consolation category rather than highlights. So for me the best thing about the week was the emergence of Kei Kamara. He brought the crowd to life when he came on and has a real excitement about him.
• Funniest moment of the week: Hardly a bundle of laughs against Fulham was it? It was one of those days when you looked around for anything to brighten up the dreadfully dull occasion. And so it fell to the Carrow Road stadium commentator to win the comedy award. While telling fans not to stand up during play, he said they could get to their feet if there were moments of excitement. You had to laugh...
• Prediction of the week: I thought I’d stick my neck out (and put my tongue in my cheek) and make some really bold predictions.... Man United for the title, QPR to get relegated, Ipswich not to get promoted, City not to be the Premier League’s leading scorers, Canary Call Twitter account to win the funniest feed of the season – and for the Canaries players to be enjoying warmer weather than me as I pen this column.