North Stander: ‘Let’s not count our chickens... Or our Canaries!’
North Stander TERRY HUNT is enjoying life in League One, as most Town fans are and he reflects on another fine away win
After our, ahem, contrasting results on Saturday, I sent a text to a mate who is a Norwich fan, saying: "Come and join us in League One - it's much more fun!"
Of course, it was meant to be tongue in cheek, but it was also true.
Life is proving to be hugely enjoyable in the third tier, after those grinding, miserable Championship campaigns under the ultra-pragmatic Mick McCarthy.
Four points clear at the top, one of only two unbeaten sides in England - with the other one being Liverpool, no less. What's not to like?
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Amazingly, a quarter of the season has flashed by, and it is becoming clear that we are THE team to beat in League One. As Paul Lambert says, all our games are like cup finals now, and that brings its own challenges.
Let's make no mistake about it - the win at Fleetwood was a huge result. Joey Barton has them firing on all cylinders. I suspect I'm not the only Town fan who would have happily taken a point to keep the unbeaten run going.
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But it was another win, thoroughly deserved again, and would have been much, much more comfortable if we'd put away the chances we created in the second half.
So let's enjoy this fantastic start - while not getting totally and utterly carried away.
I was speaking to a Portsmouth fan who has painful memories from last season. If you remember, Pompey had a fantastic start to the campaign, but fell away and ended up losing in the play-offs. So we should take absolutely nothing for granted.
Staying in cautious mode, I've already mentioned the missed chances at Fleetwood.
As it stands, we can afford to brush them aside, and enjoy another fine away win.
But if Barton's boys had equalised, we would now be rueing a whole succession of misses including, of course, yet another James Norwood one-on-one, and Kayden Jackson's pretty feeble penalty effort.
If this goes on, there will come a day when we are made to regret spurning our chances. A day when the opposition gets an equaliser, or winner, which they really don't deserve on the run of play. So we need to be putting games to bed, as they say.
It's time to pay tribute to our defence. That was our third 1-0 away win on the bounce (Big Mick would have loved it!) and, of course, they have now kept six clean sheets in seven games. Whichever combination Lambert fields seems to be working a treat at the moment.
Right - hands up everyone who was really excited when Luke Garbutt joined us for the season. Oh - not many of you. Well, I have to admit I was underwhelmed.
I was expecting a workmanlike left-back or left-sided midfielder.
What no-one mentioned was his fantastic free-kicks. In the last two games, Garbutt's free-kicks have seen him score a wonder goal for himself, and create two goals for Kayden Jackson after rebounds from opposition keepers.
His striking of the ball from set-pieces really is outstanding, and a massive weapon for us. Surely he should be on penalty duty? I suspect he comes from the no-nonsense school of penalty-takers!
There has been a good deal of discussion about Paul Lambert's decision to call off next Saturday's game because of international call-ups, mostly involving squad players.
Lots of talk about loss of momentum.
But, as it's turned out, it looks like a masterstroke.
Norwood is having minor surgery to sort out his groin problem, and Kane Vincent-Young also needs time to recover from a groin niggle.
If Norwood doesn't recover as quickly as Lambert predicts, then we have a problem up top.
Will Keane looks to be struggling for fitness, so who would join Jackson up front? Our success so far this season has been built on playing two strikers, and I wouldn't want to see Jackson playing on his own up front. He's not that sort of striker.
Finally, back to my Norwich supporter mate who I mentioned at the beginning. His reply to my very generous invitation for the Canaries to join us in League One was: "It's not going to take long at this rate!"
Admirably humorous, I thought, bearing in mind Norwich's 5-1 home defeat to Villa. The way it's going, I would expect the local derbies to resume in the Championship next season.
But there is a long, long way to go, so let's not count our chickens - or our Canaries!