City face a Wigan Athletic team high on confidence and with a fair wind behind them. Andrew Lawn spoke to Alan from Latics' fansite and podcast Pie at Night to discuss t-shirts, Nick Powell's prowess and whether Will Grigg will ever be on fire again...
Andy - 5th in the league?! How did that happen?
The Pie at Night - There’s a lot to be said for momentum. Last season created a great deal of spirit and energy about the club and we’ve definitely carried it into this season, but there’s more to it than that.
Firstly, teams have clearly underestimated us. We’ve certainly see more sides try to attack us at home than we’ve been used to and we’ve been able to make the most of the extra space that creates.
Secondly, we’d already built a Championship team last season, some smart recruitment has strengthened the squad, but kept the core of that team together.
Thirdly, we’ve got a great manager. His approach to the game is positive and his attitude is infectious. I don’t always agree with his tactical choices, but his ability to get the players to buy into what he wants is unquestionable and that’s a massive attribute to have if you want to be a successful manager.
Fourthly, we’ve got the best player in the division.
That’s only slightly tongue in cheek as well. Last season, Nick Powell looked like a Dad playing in a five-a-side game at an eight-year old’s birthday party. This year, he looks like an old pro, drafted in to a works charity game. He’s clearly a class above and he (and everyone else on the pitch) knows it.
The nap hand is e) all of the above. The division is full of a lot bigger clubs than us these days and a lot of things will have to fall right for us to do well. At the moment, everything is falling in place and long may it continue.
I watched the game against Bristol City last week and Powell took his chance really well, but it was Cheyenne Dunkley at centre-half who impressed me most, especially late on as they threw everything at you, he had that knack of being in the right place every time to just knock balls away from danger.
With Powell bossing things higher up the pitch and Dunkley keeping it tight, where can we get at you Saturday?
Play us at our own game and hope for a 4-3 win? Then again, I suppose you’re really looking for our weak spot, aren’t you?
Last season, it looked like we were susceptible to teams who bullied us. Captain Samy Morsy can be easily rattled and doesn’t always channel his frustrations in a productive way.
I’m not so sure that the same will apply this season though. We look a bit older and wiser in midfield and have rattled a few teams ourselves. I would be really interested to see how we cope if a team starved us of possession though, we might get frustrated. Then again, Man City did that to us last season and it didn’t end well for them.
Starving you of possession will definitely be how we go about things, Farke loves his team to dominate the ball, but as you say Pep tried that and...
That said, we're coming off the back of 4 straight wins, including 3-in-a-row on the road, so will be brimming with confidence. How do you see the game shaping up?
Oh, I don’t like making predictions and haven’t seen us properly away from home yet this season, so I’m going to fall back on northern pragmatism and say it’ll be a tough one, but hopefully a good one too.
A lot will depend on what team Latics can put out, we’ve had a few knocks recently and whilst Josh Windass has stepped in and showed quality, Joe Garner looked very ring rusty in mid-week.
That said, if Powell gets a foothold in the game, you could be onto a loser.
The Championship is notoriously difficult to predict in fairness. Longer term, what are expectations like in the town? From the outside, it would appear to have been a season in which survival was the only aim, but has your start altered that at all?
Football fans being what they are, there were a whole range of expectations around the season before we actually got to it.
Plenty expected us to get beat every week this season, unless we found a few hundred million down the back of the couch and spent it on players with 80+ FIFA17 ratings, but equally there are those who seem permanently convinced we’re on the verge of a return to the promised land of the Premier League. Most of us where somewhere in the middle of that, hoping for that quiet, consolidating season that’s eluded Latics for the last 15 years.
There probably has been a shift towards the top end of that scale, but most of us have been somewhere near here before and there’s a healthy cynicism about our ability to carry on the way we have been. After all, we’re only an injury, £7m bid, newspaper scandal or bodged take over by mysterious Chinese interests away from disaster.
You certainly have had a rollercoaster few years, since those happy care free days at Springfield.
What have you made of Norwich and our new, continental approach?
If I’m honest, I’ve not been paying much attention. It’s nothing personal, just that we weren’t in the same division last year and the cricket season has only just finished. It’s the best I can do to keep abreast of goings on at Latics when either me or the lad are playing/coaching/training/watching our other sport 6 or 7 days a week, let alone other clubs.
Still, continental? Doesn’t Jordan Rhodes play for you?
Seriously, I’ve always thought of Norwich as a “good football” side, hopefully Farke is carrying that on.
We'll forgive you. At least I will.
He does, he grabbed a hat-trick last night in a 4-3 Carabao Cup away win at Wycombe, but he hasn't been starting in recent weeks because of our Finnish Finisher; Teemu Pukki, signed in the summer from Brondby. He's hit the ground running so fast, Usain Bolt is envious and we started making t-shirts - want one?
Haha, nice. How much is delivery?
We also do t-shirts, but having no fans mean they are as rare as rocking horse shit, actually they’re as rare as rocking horses these days. I’ve got a nice Yanic Wildschutt design if you want to try and flog it to a Bolton fansite. They probably aren’t talking to us.
It's included. We're very reasonable. Finland fans have been lapping them up. We can certainly try. Nothing for Will Grigg? I haven't heard much of him this season, is he still warm to the touch?
We’ve a Will Grigg design, but with the club and even Primark undercutting us, we’ve no chance of selling out - https://thisnorthernshirt.co.uk
Grigg is still smouldering nicely, thank you. He’s missed the last couple with a knock but before that had 3 in 7, he’s also been getting more notice for his work off the ball - which has been under rated for some time.
Will he be back for Saturday? Let's finish on a high, with a nice resounding no...
I’m going to say yes. Not because I’ve a direct line to the physio’s room but because I just want to keep you sweating.
While you're here. If you'd like to support Along Come Norwich and what we do, we'd really appreciate you considering buying one of our new t-shirts, the Pukki Party tee. In fact, we'll even throw in some free stickers if you do, links below...