I accept that the lead in the Championship table has been eroded over Easter period following the two draws for Norwich City whilst Sheffield United enjoyed winning both games. Thankfully, however, Leeds United's bubble has well and truly burst with two shattering defeats and the acceptance of the playoffs for them.
Looking back at City’s results, I have total respect for the performances of the season under forming a duo, Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City. Both fielded plenty of experience in their lineups and quite rightly provided Norwich with stern tests, I have no complaints. As Daniel Farke says, if you can not win, make sure you draw. This philosophy will mean that City will go up automatically and Leeds will panic in the playoffs, just check out the table stats.
There have been plenty of Norwich City ‘bed wetter’ fans panicking in true Dad’s Army Corporal Jones style. The wheels have not come off, the squad have just gone an amazing 12 games unbeaten. Over a quarter of the season in fact. If you want to look at stuttering performances, just look at Leeds United since the turn of the year. I know which position I would rather be in. Also, let’s not forget the expectations for the club at the start of the season.
The last four draws do not concern me. After eight fantastic wins to set things up nicely, the Yellows have played against some really resilient, well-organised sides who have total shown respect to City in setting up to neutralise the Canaries threat.
It’s been said so many times, there are no easy games in the Championship and motivated professional managers and footballers are not going to roll over just because the all-conquering Norwich City FC have turned up.
Norwich City has not lost in the League since the 13th February at Preston and before that on 29th December at home to Derby, both games City could have won for a sake of a missed penalty and a floodlight failure.
I am expecting a positive result on Saturday and would not be surprised if it’s a fifth draw on the trot. Rovers will turn up confident on the back of four straight wins albeit against Derby, Forest, QPR and Bolton. I am not expecting Leeds to gain anything from their fixture with Aston Villa so promotion, in my book will be achieved. I am however desperate Norwich finish as Champions and therefore a victory must be secured.
I am not at least worried about the reported £20 million budget allocated for next season. The purchasing decisions made by Webber and Farke has been a breath of fresh air, the club now has many new heroes who have stepped up to the plate and look brilliant in a City shirt week in, week out. I am more worried about signing overpaid, under-motivated Premiership experience and far keener to acquire hungry additions who are on the way up or have a point to prove following past rejection.
There are also about nine loaned/injured/misfit/over the hill players who need to move and will hopefully be cleared to make way for new blood. The past removal of players like Russ Martin and Nelson Olivera has demonstrated the ability for the squad to evolve in the right direction.
As for a score prediction, my heart says a 2-1 win, the head says a 2-2 draw.