I don’t know about you but I will be very glad to see the back of this season.
It has been an unmitigated disaster, pretty much ever since we beat Manchester City last September in a stunning 3-2 victory. The Tuckster family had just returned from a City break in New York, celebrating Mrs T’s birthday and while we had been away, the internet told me that we had lost 1-0 at Crawley Town in the Carabao Cup and that Timm Klose would be out for the rest of the season.
On the flight back, Norwich were away at West Ham and during the flight, my son managed to connect to the plane’s wi-fi (a minor miracle), only to tell me that we had lost 2-0 at West Ham. The signs looked ominous for our next game, a home match against the Champions, Manchester City.
I distinctly remember thinking that if we could keep the score down to four or five then we wouldn’t have done too badly. There was actually talk of the all-time 9-0 record Premier League beating that Man United gave Ipswich, being in danger of toppling. As I write this, with the season lying in ruins around us, there is, yet again, talk of that record being in danger.
Since the re-start of football, Manchester City have been on-fire, sticking four or five past most opponents, including Liverpool, although they were beaten by Arsenal in the cup semi-final. The Gunners being managed by the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, Mikel Arteta.
Yet again, there feels like an air of huge concern around this game for the Canary nation. I would rather face any other team in the League than Manchester City on this final day. Pep Guardiola has nothing left to play for other than seeing that his team manage to score 100 goals in this season and using this match as a tune up for the upcoming Champions League mini-tournament in Lisbon, starting in August.
Pep’s men lead Real Madrid in the knockout stages 2-1 with the second leg of that tie to come. I mentioned that Guardiola has said this week that he’d like his side to break the 100 goal barrier and in order to do that, they need to score three against Norwich. I think I’d take 3-0 right now, wouldn’t you?
Norwich, as ever this season, are beset by injuries as well as a couple of missing players due to suspension. Last week’s crazy double sending off against Burnley means that Emi Buendia and Josip Drmic are unavailable for this match with Buendia also missing two games at the start of next season due to his violent conduct red card. Add that to Alex Tettey and Timm Klose being injured, although fortunately not seriously, and Daniel Farke has some decisions to make regarding team selection.
The loss of Tettey for this game particularly troubles me.
It seems likely that Christoph Zimmermann will have to play at the Etihad. He has only just returned from another long-term injury and once more, he has to be thrown straight back in. I’m sure he’ll just want to play football but I’m keeping everything crossed that his body will be strong enough to do it. The only other option to play alongside Ben Godfrey would be young Akin Famewo and whilst promising, this might not be the best time to give him what could be a confidence sapping debut.
As I mentioned, the loss of Alex Tettey as a defensive shield is going to be tough for the team, with no other like for like player in the squad. I imagine the likely option would be Tom Trybull, assuming Farke sticks with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Obviously, the complete midfielder, Kenny McLean will play alongside whoever replaces Tettey.
Just like last September, Norwich are going to need Manchester City to have an off-day and hope that the boys in yellow & green have another game of their lives. With confidence clearly at a shattering low though, that seems unlikely but I would love to be proven wrong.
I have to work on Sunday, so won’t be watching the game, and that takes away the decision from me. The decision whether to watch or not is out of my hands, so I’ll just follow it via updates on my phone and try not to think about it.
The news that the 2020-21 season will start on 12th September means that there will only be a short break for the squad. Nothing has been announced yet but I would assume that they might be given a couple of weeks off, reconvening at Colney somewhere in the middle of August. Whether or not there will be a more news faces by then or indeed, whether any have left will be interesting to follow.
One thing is for sure though, Norwich City absolutely must turn up at The Etihad on Sunday and they must fight for every ball. Even if they lose, a confidence inspiring performance could help send them away for that short break on a positive footing rather than if they lose 10-0.
COME ON YOU YELLOWS!