Opposition view: Norwich City

By Ric Turner, Thu 07 January 2016 18:44

Opposition view: Norwich CityGary Gowers, editor of NorwichCity.MyFootballWriter.com, gives us the lowdown on Saturday's FA Cup opponents

What are your expectations for the remainder of this season?

Simple. In the Prem we hope to finish 17th or higher. Do that and it's a job well done. If, during that time, we embark on an FA Cup run - which for us is two games - that'd be a bonus. For a club of our ilk, and with our resources, to be there when Sky and BT are flooding the 2016/17 rivers with gold is an absolute must. We have no benefactors or investors, therefore we live (by Premier League standards) on a shoestring; hence our reliance on the new TV deal and the finance that comes with it.

Are you happy with the manager?

Very. We think we've unearthed a rare diamond. In a year he's given us two wins over a team in blue from Suffolk, a Wembley victory and a win at Old Trafford. What's not to like? He's still learning at the very top level - by his own admission - but is doing so quickly. He's a clear thinker, meticulous in his planning and a ball-buster to anyone who steps out of line, which is (for us at least) the perfect combination.

Who are your key players?

Wes Hoolahan, who at 33 is only a few months younger than the manager, has been brilliant this season - particularly at Carrow Road - and is by some way our most creative influence. If Wes clicks, we click. Robbie Brady too, down the left flank, is behind much of our good work and down the right flank, Nathan Redmond can - on his day - be a match-winner.

Do you think you'll do any business during the transfer window?

I bloody hope so! Our recruitment in the summer window went a bit Pete Tong at the end and we missed out on 2/3 targets at the eleventh hour, much to the chagrin of the locals. As a result we have operated a little short of quality in certain areas, most notably in the centre of defence. To be brutal, to succeed in this window could be the difference between 17th and 18th.

Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?

Not really. Despite winning the 2013 FA Youth Cup, those youngsters have yet to make their mark at first-team level. The Murphy twins, Harry Toffollo and Carlton Morris - all part of that team - are currently out on loan and still learning their trade and, Redmond aside, Alex Neil's squad comprises of experience.

Your Achilles heel?

Easy one. Giving away soft goals by virtue of individual errors - like the one at the Etihad that cost us a point. Of late these have been eradicated but you always feel like there's a mistake there waiting to happen, especially if Big Seb (Bassong) goes on walkabouts. Perhaps I shouldn't be telling you that.....

If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?

Another easy one... Aguero. His ability to play that lone striker to such brilliant effect would be perfect for us! I personally think Wilfred Bony suits your playing style better and Aquero would be better served protecting those hamstrings out on loan... on the east coast... wearing yellow and green ;-)

What is your perception of City as a club?

Well, you're not the Man City of old - that's for sure. To be twinned with Abu Dhabi is a great place to be and, as a result, you're right up there challenging Barcelona and Bayern for the biggest prizes - and I can't pretend not to be envious. To be able to attract the best players in the world is the stuff of dreams and is a far cry from the days of the 'division three' Play-off final. I suppose, if I'm honest, you were easier to like back then but still I admire you for the football you play. And your fans will always be more *real* than those from the red halves of Manchester and Merseyside, and north and west London.

Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?

Tricky one - actually almost impossible - given Alex's tendency to chop and change even week to week in the Premier League. But, assuming he'll use it as an opportunity to rotate the squad it *could* look something like this: Ruddy; Whittaker, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Brady, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Redmond; Odjidja-Ofoe; Jerome

Heart says Norwich 2, Man City 1. Head (and an odd dream involving Frannie Lee, Rodney Marsh and Noel Gallagher) says Norwich 1, Man City 3