It seems like to me, and possibly (*redacted*) that I’ve bit off more than I can chew. You might think otherwise, after all, it’s ONLY 5 things, yes? Or, you might be thankful for my certain fate, yes, thrilled even that I won’t (might not) go into 5 long diatribes about how (*redacted*) relates to (*redacted*) in terms of (*redacted*) potential and the chances of winning the (*redacted*)
Rather than reading about (*redacted*), you’d perhaps prefer a detailed analysis of someone’s (my) little (wishful-thinking) plan to shite in a paper cup and leave it on the doorstep of (*redacted*)’s mansion in (*redacted*); a plan that could easily be expanded to leaving a similarly filled paper cup on the doorstep of (*redacted*)’s house on (*redacted*) Street.
You will, however, get neither. You will get what you will get, and I’m afraid, so will I. There’s no turning back once the dice are cast as (*redacted*) said in a song
1. Quel Transformatión!!
Down 3-1 on aggregate going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge we faced a daunting task. Only (*redacted*) teams have ever come from 3-1 down on aggregate to move on to the next round in the Champions League. But it should surprise no one that Chelsea was one of those teams. They did it in 2012 overturning a 3-1 deficit at Napoli in the 8th final by winning the return tilt 4-1 on an Ivanovic goal at the 112th minute of extra time to win 5-4 on aggregate. Chelsea ran the table from there, toppling Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern München at the Allianz Arena on Didier Drogba’s heroic penalty kick ((his final goal in a Chelsea shirt)) after extra time to win the Champions League.
So it should surprise absolutely no one except perhaps PSG’s owner, Nasser Al Khelaifi, that Chelsea pulled off the impossible again this Tuesday by toppling PSG 2-0 and moving on to the final four. It was 3-3 on aggregate, but Chelsea moved on on away-goal differential.
We will square off against Atlético Madrid in the Final Four. This is a nice, yet curious matchup for us. Nice because…well…let Bayern and Real club each other to death like baby seals, or Vikings, or teenage cavemen. And curious, because….well…we face our own goalie Theobald Courtois who we’ve had out on loan to Atlético for the past couple of three years. If this were an FA Cup tilt or a Premier League tilt, we wouldn’t have to face him since FA regulation prohibit a loanee from playing against his parent club. UEFA, however has no such rule, and also does not recognize clauses inserted into contracts to prevent this from happening. So despite a clause in our load agreement with Atlético thatrquires them to pay us £3 million if he plays, UEFA says NO DEAL!! So we’ll face him. The other curiosity in this tilt is that Atlético’s striker Diego Costa is on our transfer radar for summer. So….(*redacted*).
2. Goodbye Mr. Nice-Guy
Chris Hughton is a nice and decent man. I’ve said that many times before. And so have hundreds of other pundits and scribes. He’s even a reasonably good coach. But….
Yes. There’s the rub. But…..
I was excited and hopeful as many Canaries fans were when he first appointed. He had a good run coaching Newcastle backto the top flight. And quite a few were surprised and dismayed when he sacked by Toon owner Mike Assley (pun intended) and replaced by Alan Pardew. So when he landed at Norwich when our heroic coach of all time ((perhaps)), Paul Lambert left for more pay at Aston Villa, there was reason for optimism ((but there were also a few nay-sayers amongst the Canaries faithful…and I’m afraid to say that they correct)).
Norwich spent a ton (or tonne, for those of you who are more metrically inclined) relatively speaking on new strikers at the start of the season. The addition of Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper, and Johann Elmander, was supposed to increase their firepower up front and produce more goals. All well and good. But….
Hughton’s tactics and lineups and substitutions left a lot to be desired. And as the season got underway, us Canary fans became more and more disenchanted with the nice guy in football.
I’ve been expressing my bewilderment and dismay all season over the lack of playing time Wes Hoolihan had been getting. Hoolihan, the Irish international, is the most creative play-maker on the team. But Hughton dropped him from the starting lineup in favour of Alex Tettey who is not the brightest bulb on the porch, or Leroy Fer or Johnny Howson. He scrapped the diamond formation that worked so well with the talent they had under Paul Lambert (and could have worked just was well the new talent brought on board). The result was in many games, the offense got bogged down.
As this season progressed, it became increasingly evident that Hughton’s tactical approach was not working and wasn’t really going to work. It was too conservative and too negative, and w/o Hoolihan to provide a spark up the middle, the result was what we’ve seen. Hardly any goals scored by the expensive strikers up front and with the exception of Snodgrass, hardly a midfielder with a clue about getting service to the strikers.
I lay that on Hughton’s lap. He clearly botched things and had to go. I only wish that the Norwich board had pulled the trigger on sacking him sooner. That would have given interim coach Neil Adams time to get his ideas and tactics instilled in the squad.
I’m afraid now it might be too late. There is a very good possibility that we’re going back down to the Championship. We’ll see after Saturday’s match with Fulham.
So, goodbye Mr. Nice Guy. And as much as it pains me to say it, I’m (*redacted*).
3. The Little Schoolboys
As you can see from the above, ManU(re) were ((attempted to be)) lively in attack, and Evra smacked home a cracker to open ManU(re)’s account on the day. But all that did was rile Bayern München unnecessarily and when all was said and done, it all came down to ManU(re)’s schoolboy defending. David Moyes himself said that by the way, not me.
I didn’t watch a lick of it. And probably just as well. I’ve heard you can die of laughter, and I’m not quite ready for that yet.
So Bayern is on the way to the Final Four, along with Chelsea, Atlético Madrid, and Real Madrid. The Final Four draw is on Friday. And Manchester United and their fans can watch it all unfold on TV from the comfort of their living room or local pub.
4. Dead Freight East
Too little, too late….Hughton should have been fired months ago. Me and 1,059 other Canaries fans called that shot.
Anyway, the difference under Adams was noticeable on the day. More hopeful and upbeat…positive football. But you could also see the signs of Hughton’s negative, conservative reign. They just weren’t used playing the free and open football they used to play. It seemed to me that Adams’ new regime caught them by surprise, as if they’d forgotten how to do what they know they can do. I don’t know if what I’m saying makes any kind of sense to you.Unless you’re a true green and gold Canaries fan that is, then you’d get what I’m trying to say.
This was 3 points that went slipping away. And now, Norwich City are for the most part dead freight, shipped back east to Carrow Road to await our certain fate at the hands of Liverpool next Sunday. Then it’s ManU(re) at Old Trafford (we can actually get all 3 points from this if the lads absorb Adams’s tactics by then). After that it’s Chelsea at the Bridge. Upon the conclusion of that tilt, we’ll hitch a ride on the final Dead Freight East back to Carrow Rd and wait on the Gooners.
In the word’s of Norwich’s very own Alan Partridge:
5. The Sighs of Heaven’s 10,000 (*redacted*)
We’ve been spared!! Spared another week of (*redacted*) and the Gooners whining about (*redacted*). They have made it through to the FA Cup final and are waiting on either of Sheffield United or Hull City. At last, the elusive silverware is in reach.
Lukas Fabianski, subbing for regular goalie Wojciech Szczesny, was man of the match, saving Wigan’s first two penalty attempts.
Arsenal cracked in all 4 of their attempts, and now (*redacted*).
I’m not a Gooners fan, and I’d rather that Wigan had won this. But I was pulling for the Gooners just this once because, as I said, the insufferable whining will stop, at least for awhile.
And now, so will mine.