Who deserves a visit from Santa at Carrow Road this Christmas?
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You'd better watch out (especially if you're a Norwich player in the opposition's box from a set piece). You'd better not cry (not easy if you're a City fan at the moment). You'd better not stand (yes I know I've changed the words - but don't stand in Barclay Block A).
See where I’m going with this...? Unless you’ve been locked away in an underground vault for weeks, I’m sure you’ve heard that old Christmas tune about Santa making a list and checking it twice and finding out who has been naughty and nice.
Yes, little more than 48 hours after we finish our match with Brentford tomorrow night, the big jolly fella with the white beard will be heading down our chimneys. It will be at exactly the halfway point in the Championship season, so I thought I’d combine a festive flavour with some mid term reflections and consider who FC may be treating well with some special presents - and who may be getting a lump of coal or a small orange (if you get that analogy it will show how old you are!)
– Let’s start with the head coach. Daniel Farke has had a tough introduction to the English game. He has exuded welcome positivity and tried to encourage patient possession football. Sadly he hasn’t been able to adjust to the challenges of the second tier quickly enough, hence why we are well down the league.
The style of football has been too dull, despite having so much talent at his disposal. Santa’s presents - a ladder to the climb the table, a fat wallet for January (and it must be time for a new coat).
– The City board - No season passes without fresh questions about their ambition and decision making. The jury is clearly still out on the wisdom (or otherwise) of the new management structure and the top brass has had to face close scrutiny around pay offs to the likes of Jez Moxey and Alex Neil. The policy on season ticket prices for next year will be absolutely crucial. Santa’s present - a new contacts book with some numbers for big investors.
– James Maddison - The lad has been a shining star in a season filled with too much gloom. If there is one real positive to look back on so far, it is the gem in our midfield. He oozes class, clearly loves playing, doesn’t want to be rested and has a massive future ahead of him. Santa’s present - a thick padlock to keep him here.
– Alex Pritchard - Sadly we’ve not seen enough of him during a frustrating injury-plagued campaign but he is certain to be a key man in the second period. There has been doubts about whether he and Maddison can play together. They are simply too good to leave out. Santa’s present - cotton wool to keep him protected.
– Angus Gunn - The lad had massive shoes to fill following his legend Dad to Carra. It’s blindingly obvious why Pep Guardiola thinks so much of him and why he was drafted into the full England squad.
I hear he is very likely to return to the Etihad and become a key part of the set up of the champions elect. Santa’s present - a pen to sign a permanent contract (yes, it’s the time of the year to dream).
– Cameron Jerome and Nelson Oliveira - In all my years of supporting the Canaries, I can’t remember a time when I have been so frustrated by our front men. Cam will always work his guts out for the cause. Nelson undoubtedly has the ability to rip defences up at this level. Both can argue the service to them has not been good enough and they’ve had the unenviable job of the lone striker role. But they’ve both been well below par. Santa’s present - a map and compass so they can find their way to the opposition’s goal.
– Ivo Pinto - It’s obvious why Ivo is a fans’ favourite and has accepted the responsibility of being captain really well. I love his energy and enthusiasm and desire to bomb forward. Santa’s present - more batteries to keep him charging around the pitch.
– Josh Murphy - Nothing pleases me more as a Norwich fan than a young local lad bursting on to the scene. It was brilliant to see the Murphy twins forcing their way into the first team squad. Well done to Jacob for making his move to Toon. After a tricky start, he has been stamping his mark up there and won player of the month. His brother, meanwhile, looks shot of confidence and the crowd has really got on his back. He has been pulling out of tackles and looks a shadow of the player who scored that fabulous goal at the Emirates. Santa’s present - a spell on loan to sort him out.
– The fans - Yes we moan, yes we groan, yes some of us stand up too much (and get on our seats when we shouldn’t). But City’s support through thick and thin remains brilliant. Santa’s presents - frozen season ticket prices, more goals, some much-needed excitement, some new gems in the transfer window, keeping our star players, beating Chelsea to trigger an FA Cup run and a late surge for promotion. There, who said we wanted too much.....
On The Ball City and Happy Christmas.
Thanks to Russ and Steven
Footballers are used to coming in for plenty of stick.
Some of it is justified. If you get paid immense sums of money and are held in high esteem by millions, you have to be able to soak up some flack, especially if you’re not doing your job.
Some abuse targeted at players, however, is bang out of order.
Russell Martin and Steven Naismith are two City players who are certainly used to facing plenty of negativity.
Russ has been a fantastic servant for the Canaries. Until this season, he has been regularly picked by every manager he has played under since moving to Carrow Road and has faced the media after so many poor results.
He is not the player he was - but certainly doesn’t deserve the stick he gets.
Things haven’t worked out for Naismith but the personal abuse hasn’t been warranted.
My estimation of both of them has gone up significantly after hearing of the huge impression they made on children and families at the EACH hospice at Quidenham last week. Thanks guys for making a real difference to those special people.
Stand up for safe standing
Ironically when we’ve had so little excitement to get us on our feet at Carrow Road this season, standing up has become a huge talking point.
At a time when fans are normally chatting about the upcoming busy festive period and reflecting on the first half of the season, so much debate in recent days has centred about Block A in the Barclay Stand.
For as long as I can remember, supporters have stood up rather than parked their bots during games.
Requests to sit are nothing new. There are varying levels of coercion used by stewards and the issue has rumbled on.
The intervention of the Safety Advisory Group has moved things on dramatically, prompting warning letters and now the move to relocate young fans in other parts of the ground.
For me the crucial issue is to quickly bring in safe standing. I want City and our MPs to work together to bring pressure on the government to get a law change and get the seats out of that part of the stadium.