SUNNY days. Shades of yellow. Shades of green. Greg Downs. John and Kevin. Bonds their name. Jan Molby’s debut. Fashanu’s goal. Fashanu’s game. Ronnie Whelan’s goal. Ruel Fox. In a white suit. In a disco. In the 1980s. Flashback snapshots. Hazy recalls of Norwich when I first came into contact with it/them, during my teens.
A nice place with a river and a small but boisterous football club called City. The Canaries. “Carm arn Narr-rich.” “Carm arn Narr-rich.” In that Anglo-hillbilly accent you get in England’s pastoral regions south of the Wash. I can never quite separate it from the West Country one. From Thetford to Bath. From Delia to Fred West. They all sound the same to me.
Coogan changed all this. I never went to Norwich during the Coogan years. Not quite sure why. Maybe they were mainly being relegated then or maybe Steve’s Partridge subconsciously put me off. Coogan redfined Norwich and not in a good way. Well, in a very good way for the world but not for the town. Instead of honeycomb stone cottages, quaint lanes and pretty pubs, and its river, and all of its greenery and of all its warm yellowness, Norwich was reclaimed as Milton Keynes. As Slough. Land of the Travel Tavern. The Motorway services. Out of town retail. Pedestrianisation. The 1970s. And not in a good way.
The denizens of Norwich will be relieved to hear that in recent years I’ve re-discovered her — Norwich is definitely a girl. And Norwich is back. Norwich is golden. It is just about my favourite away trip. The anticipation of how good this one will be is killing me. It can’t match what I have planned for it. This time I’m also making it my six-year-old lad’s away debut day. He’s very excited. He thinks Norwich is London. It’s loads better than London.
Thanks to the good people who make football come on your televisions the kick off for this one is a 12.45-er. That means from Liverpool we need to set off at a handy 5am. Out the bed for about 4am. It will be night time for another four hours. Doesn’t bear thinking about. The boys in red better be in the mood or I’m getting nasty.
The boys in red are kind of lost at the moment. Those of us who still believe in them are worried for them. There’s some really good players at Liverpool Football Club just right now. They’re a decent bunch. They need an honest break though. In the past two league games they played Arsenal and Man Utd at Anfield. For 70-80 per cent of those two games they were teaching those two benchmark sides how to play the game. The two first halves were mainly wonderful to watch. Bobby Firmino tearing it up. Emre Can a bulldozer with ballerinas’ feet. Henderson in charge. Showing the passes. Making the runs. Running the show.
In midweek, for the re-match in the FA Cup with Exeter, Jurgen Klopp went with the stiffs, so the main men have had a solid week’s respite. They should be recharged enough to give it a right go. Contributing to my renewed love for the City of Norwich has been the football team’s hospitableness. How those canaries have rolled over like dogs. 3-2 in 2013/14 , 5-2 the year before. 3-0 under Kenny in 2011/12. God love them. They’ve always got goals in them.
Word is Norwich have tightened up a bit at Carrow Road of late. Still two shabby pastings in their last two games (both away) were timely reminders of their soft centre. I’m not hugely clued up on their main threats I confess. Does Ruel Fox still get a game there?
We’re better than Norwich but we are still required to turn up to prove that. Lessons need to have been heeded from the horrors witnessed in recent weeks at Watford and West Ham. Those were dark days. The manager looked concerned. Troubled. Just what had he gotten himself into?
Hearteningly his powers were sufficient to ensure that the Liverpool team that took up the tests against Arsenal and Manchester United were very much up for it. Although the results depressed, the effort and most of the application did not. We can ask for little more down in the East Anglia this weekend. Give me those two first halves again and we’ll take our chances and the points.
The reserve side that faced Exeter was a clear enough indicator of the eleven we’re likely to see match up against the Canaries. Only the possibility of a rest for the slightly injured Adam Lallana is likely to change the inevitable selection. Stephen Caulker will make his debut alongside Sakho. Henderson, Milner and Can will all play. It seems that Klopp will also surely start Lucas, so imperious against the Mancs.
If shorn of Lallana then one of Ibe or Benteke will be asked to partner the in-form Roberto Firmino. The manager could yet select both to partner Bobby in a front 3 but that would mean no berth for Lucas. That wouldn’t be smart.
The team is picking itself. Norwich is calling me. The alarm is set, the bag packed. A night of service stations, cats eyes and average speed limits awaits. I hope we win. I hope they don’t go down. Might try to find that disco again. If only to see if Ruel Fox still goes. I bet he does. I bet he still rocks that white suit.
The team to take down Fox’s Canaries:
Mignolet; Clyne, Caulker, Sakho, Moreno; Lucas; Can, Henderson, Milner; Firmino, Benteke.