Five reasons Norwich City are on the brink of relegation
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After the decent but unfruitful performance against Arsenal, we're painfully close to treating the Premier League like your auntie and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary party.
Pop in, show your face and get out of there at the earliest opportunity before anything too embarrassing happens.
I've always tried to be a mixture of fair and positive when I write, so as this is my last column, let's be totally unfair and thoroughly miserable, and pick apart why this season's been a painful struggle. I bring you...
The Top Five Hindsight Reasons We Are Favourites To Go Down (cue Top of the Pops music).
5 – Winning ugly
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What does someone with an F in GSCE art and Norwich City have in common? They're both incapable of drawing.
Throughout the season, we have been unable to nick undeserved draws or wins. Have we stayed in shape, kept in the game, and scrambled a last minute set-piece in to get more than we deserved from the game? Not once.
- 1 Boss puts Queen Anne family home up for sale for £1.325m
- 2 People queue at Norwich Primark an hour before 7am reopening
- 3 'We haven't slept': Primark shoppers queue outside city store from 3am
- 4 Prince of Wales Road will bounce back, nightlife stalwarts predict
- 5 EFL announce revised schedule to avoid Prince Philip funeral clash
- 6 Norwich City transfer rumours: Prolific Greek international in Canaries' sights
- 7 Police close section of A11 due to crash
- 8 Norwich takeaway's food poisoning complaint investigation closed
- 9 Are you lost? Seal splashes its way to Norwich
- 10 Tenants battled 'extreme mould' for months
Frustratingly, on the other hand, there have been games where hard fought yet much deserved points were heartbreakingly snatched away from us. West Brom (H), Leicester (A), West Ham (H), Liverpool (H) to name but four.
Paul Lambert famously shouted at one of his defenders once, which was inadvertently caught on a pitch side microphone – 'don't get (censored) beat'. If only we could, Paul. If only we could.
4 – Lady Luck
You do make your own luck by being in areas where a fortunate bounce makes a difference – West Brom away for example where Matt Jarvis's accidental 'assist' remains his only 'assist'. Yet, from the first game we've had our fair share of misfortune. Disallowed goals. Crucial injuries. Clear offsides not given. Posts being struck at decisive moments, and a severe lack of quality and consistent refereeing throughout. Every team needs luck. We just didn't get it this season.
3 – Tinker
Alex Neil has chopped, changed and chipped at the side for each and every game. To his credit, he is trying to use our strengths against their weaknesses and visa versa. Yet, little continuity bred a lack of understanding at the back, as well as in our attack. Our best performances this season have been against both Manchesters, the West Ham games, Liverpool games, Arsenal, and in all of those games, we played a strong, deep defensive line and hit on the break.
Maybe we should have kept a more defensive style throughout the whole season, and only played with freedom when we're up in a game.
The Premier League likes to punish the brave, and I think we've been a tad too brave.
2 – Our transfer record
We made a lot of signings this season including: Graham 'That Man City Chance' Dorrans, Youssouf 'Unused Sub' Mulumbu, Matt 'Assist' Jarvis, Ivo 'A Trier' Pinto, Patrick 'Pardew Was Right' Bamford, and Steven 'Grumble' Naismith. A large amount of cash was spent but little was given back.
It's fair to say only Dieumerci Mbokani, Robbie Brady and Timm Klose were the success stories, and I very much doubt they will grace Wigan on a Tuesday next season.
1 – Losing to rivals
The big one. My most jaw clenching annoyance. Not turning up against our rivals. We've been okay in a lot of matches, and as I've said, we've played well against the entire top six this season (Spurs aside). Yet our performances against our rivals at the bottom, are the games which make me want to give up football and take up knitting.
Sunderland. One win in nine. Guess who against?
Aston Villa. One win in 15. Oh, I wonder who that was against.
Palace. One win in NINETEEN. Norwich City. Come on down!
Those three games plus the Bournemouth, Newcastle and Watford away games, we were ultimately outfought, outplayed and out of touch after their first goal. Mix in the lack of ability or belief to be able to come from behind – and here we have it. The 2015/2016 season.
Even with those reasons, all those horrible weekends, we are still in with a chance. A tiny flicker of light at the end of a long and tired tunnel.
There is always drama, always something for Jeff Stelling to go loopy over, and if we can manage to get it to the last day of the season at Everton – imagine. Just imagine.
0-0. 93rd minute. We get a corner just as we hear Sunderland have conceded. Ruddy is up. The roar is heard throughout Liverpool. The ball comes in and like a rising salmon, there he is. Naismith beats everyone and connects. Hearts in mouth as the ball harmlessly flies miles over the bar to ironic cheers.
We draw. We're down. And we start again in August. And, you know what? I love this little club so much – I can't wait until we do.