I wish this pre-Christmas column could be written with more festive cheer, but Norwich City’s alarming slide into mid-table mediocrity shows no sign of slowing down.
‘Play-offs at best’ was the message from a beaten sounding Alex Neil after Huddersfield taught us a lesson in how to approach a football match last Friday night — and right now even that sounds ambitious.
To their credit, the Yorkshire side were mightily impressive: hard working, a strong pressing game and a real team spirit — the complete other end of the scale to some of the lackluster performances City have churned out recently.
We’ve all seen the damning stats: seven defeats in nine, seven points from 11 games, no wins against any of the top half this season and 23 defeats in our last 43 games.
Unfortunately something has got to give and although it does hurt me to say it — I just can’t see Neil turning our fortunes around any time soon.
The Scot is a shadow of the manager he was when he took over two years ago. From a tactically astute motivator with real man-management skills, Neil is now a man who still doesn’t know his best team, continues to make poor substitutions and fails to get the best out of his players.
In some ways I do admire our board for sticking by their man in the current sacking culture, but the powers who be are at risk of letting this season fizzle out before we reach the start of spring.
For that reason they have to act now.
I’m fully aware of how this works, I call for Neil’s head and now City will go on to beat Reading on Boxing Day. Of course, I hope that happens, we all do, but I can’t help but feel it would be another instance of papering over the cracks.
Merry Christmas to you all.