Norwich City on New Year’s Day
In the last three years Norwich City have gone into the new year in a healthy position.
January 4th, 2013
The first day of this decade saw the Canaries in second place in League One with 48 points – eight points behind leaders Leeds United. Five months and 47 points later, Norwich City strolled to the League One title; finishing nine points clear of the Elland Road outfit.
Fast forward to January 1, 2011 and Paul Lambert’s men again found themselves one place off the top – this time to QPR in the Championship – and that’s where they would stay thanks to the FA doing little in the way of punishing QPR over the Alejandro Faurlin saga, with both sides earning automatic promotion to the Premier League.
This time last year the Canaries continued to fly high, sitting eighth in the top flight on 25 points, and 10 points clear of the relegation zone. A further 22 points during the second half of the season saw them finish 12th. Norwich City fans have seen in a new year in a division higher than the last for the previous three years – an achievement rarely seen before in the world of English league football.
The chances of the Carrow Road faithful seeing such heights as those experienced on January 1, 1993 in the inaugural campaign of the Premier League when Mike Walker’s men were third in the top flight – level on points with leaders Manchester United – are slim to none.
But it wasn’t always that way for the boys in yellow and green, and there is a date in history that fans hope won’t repeat itself. As Big Ben signalled the beginning of 1995 John Deehan’s City side were sitting comfortably in eighth place in the Premiership on 33 points – 11 clear of the relegation zone. But a serious injury to goalkeeper Bryan Gunn and the sale of major attacking players contributed to the Canaries picking up only 10 more points during the rest of the season which saw them finish 20th and relegated, five points off safety.
This season, despite goalkeeper John Ruddy being ruled out until late March through injury, the chances of the Canaries experiencing a similar downfall of such epic proportions are low. Norwich City are no longer the selling club they were back then and Chris Hughton will have the players he wants to ensure Premier League survival for another year. Having gone from ten games unbeaten to four defeats in a row has left the more nervous of City fans slightly twitchy, but just five more wins from the remaining games should suffice.
Fixtures at home to Southampton, Reading, Swansea, and Aston Villa, along with trips to Sunderland, QPR and Wigan, stand out as those to pick up the points required. The festive series of West Brom, Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham was always going to be a difficult sequence of games. Even though that run resulted in zero points, the Canaries still have that sizeable gap from the relegation zone – a fact that City fans should hold onto in moments of doubt. Chris Hughton’s team will be fine.