Norwich City travel to Birmingham today to face the blues at St. Andrews knowing that they need to start picking up points fast, or else.
The Canaries currently sit just eight points above the bottom three, although remarkably, they are still “only” eleven points off the top six too. The nature of the Championship means that a three match winning run could see City quickly climb the table.
Conversely, a three match losing run, which seems more likely, could have dire consequences at the other end of the table.
If City are to get out of this mire that they currently find themselves in and to avoid the threat of a relegation scrap, then you sense that this Christmas period of games is going to be crucial.
With games against Birmingham, Burton Albion and then Millwall on New Year`s Day, Norwich have a big opportunity to make something happen and get some points on the board.
Daniel Farke has spoken since the Brentford defeat about the need to get back to the basics of defending and to get a “better balance in the team.” He`s also promising changes for today`s game.
I`m not really sure what he means when he talks about “a better balance” because it`s not as though, of late, we`ve been better at one end of the field than the other.
We`ve been equally rubbish.
In terms of today, I think that Farke needs to make at least three changes to try to alter the team dynamic.
In the midfield, he needs to be playing Alex Tettey and Tom Trybull together again as holding players. Tettey`s destructive, ball winning ability coupled with Trybull`s eye for a pass was the catalyst for the autumn run that took us to sixth place but since then, the back four have had precious little protection.
Against Brentford, the amount of space afforded to the Bees` attacking players was ridiculous in the first half and that`s where the game was lost.
The other change needed is at left back, which has been a problem all season, either with the inconsistent James Husband or the “square peg in a round hole” that has been Marco Stiepermann – he`s been doing his best but he`s a midfielder playing at left back.
Jamal Lewis is the only left back at the club, other than Husband, that (now) has senior experience. It`s a lot to put on the young man`s shoulders but he`s ready to grab the chance with both hands.
Farke raves about him, so it seems logical to me that he be given a real chance over the festive period.
Chelsea are visiting in the FA Cup on January 6th and it feels like we need to turn a corner before then. Their approach reminds me of Star Wars, where the mighty Death Star makes it`s way slowly towards the rebel base with the rebels` destruction almost a certainty.
After that we face Bristol City (a) and then Sheffield United (h), Brentford (a) and then welcome Middlesbrough to Norfolk before facing Derby away – so you see, a positive Christmas run could be vital in instilling some confidence in our team and generally making a fist of it.
If you`re going to Birmingham today then have a good day, whatever happens. A mate of mine is taking his two lads as mascots today, so I`m keeping my fingers crossed that we get a win. You never know, if Farke makes those three changes I`ve suggested then the way we play (and defend) could just make the difference.