Ian Clarke: Time for City to end miserable season with a big scalp

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at Moli

Teemu Pukki is a player that Norwich City must be fighting to keep next season, according to Chris Sutton. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The original headline for this week's column was going to be: "My worst season ever as a City fan? Probably."

I was going to use the phrase coined by a well-known brand of lager to describe in miserable detail just how awful this campaign has been - and as bad as any I've known in 40 odd years as a Norwich supporter.

Let me make it clear, it has been very, very (I could go on) poor.

So many questions need answering and there are so many wounds from such a deflating relegation campaign.

I like to think I'm a pretty positive follower, but I've even been depressing myself with some of the recent columns on the club's malaise.

So while in no way am I going to sugar coat a wretched nine months, my attention is turning to at least one positive which can be salvaged from the wreckage.

In almost every season - even the most disappointing ones - City have pulled at least one shock out of the bag to thrill the fans.

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Two years ago, when the team finished with even fewer points than this time round, there was that never-to-be-forgotten 3-2 win over Manchester City.

Todd Cantwell of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Premier League match at Ca

Todd Cantwell has been recalling Norwich City's epic victory against Manchester City in September 2019. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I've experienced some amazing atmospheres at Carra and the buzz that day was up with the best.

And just before games went behind closed doors as the first lockdown was declared, 9,000 of us had an amazing night at Spurs as super Timmy Krul inspired the FA Cup win.

Tim Krul of Norwich celebrates after he saves a penalty from Gedson Fernandes of Tottenham Hotspur t

Tim Krul celebrates Norwich City's shootout success at Tottenham in the FA Cup in March 2020 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

This season has had none of those joyous highlights.

In fact City's return from the games against the big teams has been woeful.

Ahead of the final day of the season visit of Champions League-chasing Spurs, the Canaries have played 13 games against the top seven.

Move on if you want to be further depressed....(and forgive my Eurovision Song Contest reference).

In those matches Dean Smith's men have a grand total of nil points from a possible 39.

In 1,170 minutes, Norwich have managed a paltry four goals (one against Liverpool, one against Chelsea and two against Manchester United).

Meanwhile, 42 goals have gone into the City net in those matches.

The highest placed team we've beaten is Brentford (11th). Could that be a record?

When you look at City's performances against the whole top 10, the haul remains pretty bleak - four points from 19 games with five goals scored and 49 conceded.

Sorry, I had meant to be more upbeat.

My point is that now is the time to send supporters into the summer with something of a consolation prize by getting a victory over the Londoners.

I have been amused at reading lots of comments from Spurs fans who clearly think the ultimate Along Come Norwich episode is on its way.

If you've not followed the North London race for fourth place, Tottenham basically only need a point from the trip to NR1 as their goal difference is so much better than the Gunners'.

I've got plenty of friends who support both clubs so I'm not especially worried about who finishes higher.

What concerns me far more is for us to finally secure a shock result.

Is it likely? Of course not.

There's a massive incentive for Kane, Son and Co and the bookies are offering ridiculous odds on a two-horse race.

After all the dreadful days we've endured since last August, please, please, Norwich City players, lift yourselves.

We've heard lots of words from the City camp about having plenty to play for after relegation was confirmed.

Now is the time for every single man in a yellow and green shirt - whether they are going to be here next season or not - to give 100pc to the cause.

I'd love Teemu Pukki to net again.

The Finn has named as the player of the season - and surely there wasn't any doubt about that.

For him to have scored 11 out of City's 23 goals this season is remarkable - particularly as it takes him level with fellow legend Grant Holt.

More success for him on Sunday will take him clear in the standings and if he has another prolific season in the Championship, he could be heading towards three figures.

I know plenty of City fans won't be there on Sunday - and I can't blame them.

But for those of us that are going, may it be a silver lining on a very, very cloudy year.

OTBC.

Ban the thug 

We're getting more of an idea of who City will be playing next season as the play-offs are nearing their completion.

As always the end-of-season finales are fascinating and I was intrigued that no fewer than five players with Norwich links appeared in the match between Luton and Huddersfield.

I'm pleased that the Terriers have made Wembley - not least as it will give my colleague Richard Porritt another day out at the home of football.

It looked like Nottingham Forest would throw it all away before just pipping Sheffield United in the other tie.

After the truly awful start Forest had to the season, massive credit is due to Steve Cooper and his men for their remarkable turnaround.

One horrible incident which marred the end of the semi-final second leg was the headbutting of striker Billy Sharp.

An arrest has been made and obviously the legal process has to take its course.

But it looked a horrible attack - and if someone is found guilty there has to be a lifetime ban from all football grounds.

Get involved

Here's a date for Norwich fans to get in their diaries - May 24, 7pm, Epic Studios in the city.

It's the exciting first Pink Un+ live stage event at which City legend and our columnist Chris Sutton will be joining our Norwich correspondents Paddy Davitt and Connor Southwell for an evening of honest conversation, audience questions and plenty of laughs.

From the self-funding model to recruitment to Stuart Webber - there are so many topics to get our teeth into and we want to give you the platform to do that.

The event is free for Pink Un+ subscribers and so it's another great reason to join up.

You can get more details in our papers and on our websites - so don't miss out.

TO OBTAIN YOUR FREE TICKET, ENTER THE FOLLOWING PROMO CODE WHEN ORDERING – pinkunlive1

Meanwhile, talking about the Pink Un, I was interested to hear that a copy of the printed paper is on display at an exhibition called Football: Designing The Beautiful Game at London's Design Museum.

It runs until August 29 and the edition of the Pink Un being shown is from January 24, 1959 during that famous FA Cup run and follows a 3-2 win over Cardiff.

Taffies Bly-ted is the great headline to celebrate a wonder goal from Terry Bly.

It was certainly a vintage time for headlines and my favourite was the famous Bly Bly Babes after the striker saw off the Manchester United team in a later round.