Man City Preview
And that's just the kind of up and down rollercoaster of emotions we've experienced here this season. The first month or so saw some us sit on the wrong end of some dreadful score lines to Fulham, Chelsea and Liverpool and put in some of the worst performances since Bryan Gunn was in charge (no disrespect to Gunny, whom I forever cherish and respect. Not his mess to clean up, but that's another story). We were all miserable and for poor Chris Hughton, it wasn't exactly the greatest of first impressions.
So how did we respond? By going from one extreme to the complete opposite, going ten league games without defeat and sitting second in the European form table to Barcelona. Barca-bloody-lona. From total apathy to total ecstasy. Mood swing.
And then, in an oh-so-ironic footballing way, we lost to West Brom, the mood-swing-kings (Where do you think 'Boing Boing' comes from?) and couldn't win any more than 2 in the next 19. More misery and ruffled feathers.
In a delightful piece of symmetry, the very team that inadvertently ended such a good run may have just helped give birth to a new one. Well, not a run of games, especially as we only have one left, but a sequence of positive news, change and progression at the club where all of a sudden, the future is actually looking incredibly bright. And not just bright, but glowingly positive on all fronts, from the playing staff at all levels to off-pitch matters.
The FA Youth Cup winning side deserve a special place in the club's history books. I appreciate that this may seem like something of an exaggeration, but what Neil Adams and the academy staff have done is nothing short of excellent. Any NCFC team that brings home a trophy, whether they're first team, youth level, juniors, or even the ladies team, deserves hearty praise.
Although the Senior cup isn't as much of a priority, it too deserves a place in our trophy cabinet (We'll need a new shelf at this rate) and with another young City team prospering, including many of the faces from the Youth Cup triumph, here's hoping that we've got a crop of future Premier League stars who can ensure that 1, 2, 5, maybe even 10 years down the line we've got a core of home-grown first team stars who can help the club prosper. Worked for Fergie's Fledgelings, after all!
Although there's only one real issue left to be decided at the weekend - the last Champions League spot- there's still plenty of emotion, what with the retirements and all. Or, in the Blue half of Manchester, a sacking! No doubt this game will be overshadowed by the Citeh fans effectively treating the game like something of a funeral as they'll wheel out the banners and cries of "Mancini! Wooaah!" for their departed gaffer.
Our last visit to Eastlands didn't go down as we'd hoped, though the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the future title winners did little to dampen the spirit of the travelling support. It was the first real time that City had been somewhat humbled since their top flight return, but then it was against a Man City team on an incredible roll and a seemingly limitless chequebook. The game itself will mainly be remembered for Mario Ballotelli's shoulder goal, where the ball bounces over to him on virtually on the goalline before he pops the shoulder and cannons it in.
A goal I also remember was the first, where Sergio Augero must've had about 8 Canary shirts in front of him in the penalty area trying to block his way, yet he still stuck it past everyone and into the net, which summed up just how shocking our defence was all year. Steve Morison's consolation goal did spark a copycat Poznan celebration from the away fans, which the home contingent applauded, but otherwise it was a bit of a write-off for Lambert's troops.
The two league meetings since at Carrow Road have brought much the same in terms of leaking goals, so don't be too surprised if we get more of the same on Sunday.
Norwich are roughly 10/1 with most bookies to pull off the upset victory. But to be honest, now may be as good a time as ever to kick them while they're down in the dumps. Also, depending on other results, we could finish as low as 17th or as high as tenth, which could well be worth a few extra bob and a new player or two. With 2nd place already sewn up for the hosts, here's hoping we can catch them while they're basically on the beach. With all of the positive momentum we've built up this week, hopefully we can build on that just once more before football vanishes for the summer.