Inside Carrow Road

Wednesday 29 April 2015 16:00

Norwich fan Joe Atkinson assesses the Canaries’ season so far and looks ahead to Saturday’s game with the Whites at Carrow Road.

Many tipped Norwich for a successful 2014/15 – has this season gone how you thought it would?

In my mind automatic promotion and the title were not unrealistic targets and I was confident we could do it. The Championship is always a tough league and so promotion in any way would have marked a successful season, but it's not gone entirely as I was thought it would. I was always expecting us to go through a tough patch but our form from the end of September through to the end of November really did come as a horrible surprise. It’s pretty amazing we managed to get ourselves in the automatic hunt with three games left until recent events put a stop to that.

How impressed have you been with the job Alex Neil has done since he came in?

Unbelievably impressed! Like most Norwich fans, I didn't know anything about him when we were linked with him but after doing some reading up I wasn't worried at all, which I found strange because I thought we were going to go down the experienced route. The prospect of Alex Neil taking over and seeing us attempting to do something different did excite me. His approach and form since he has taken over has been a revelation, especially away from home which we have never been renowned for.

Which players have impressed you most this season?

I’d single out Bradley Johnson. I've always liked the way he plays by giving it his all every game, never pulling out of challenges and being prepared to take a battering if he has to, but the fact that he's added an unbelievable amount of goals – in an unfamiliar left midfield position – has been brilliant. He's scored such a range of important goals, from delicate chips to absolute piledrivers, and I think that’s made him one of the standout performers in the league, let alone for us. Sebastien Bassong at the back has been great the majority of the time since he's come back from his loan spell. Alex Tettey brings energy and protection to our midfield that we really do miss when he's out, and Wes Hoolahan has the creativity and guile to single-handedly pick apart a defence, and if he is on it then we can be unstoppable at times.

How do you expect to line up against Fulham?

It's hard to say now as the automatic spots are out of reach and we are guaranteed Play-Offs, so I don't know if Alex Neil may try something different. Usually though, I would expect us to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Tettey acting as a cover to the back four and bringing the battle to the centre of the park, while Graham Dorrans has the quarterback role and attempts to dictate play with his range of passing. We try to get the full-backs involved in the attacking, too. We are at our best though when Hoolahan is on form in his roaming role as he can bring people into the game like no one else. He really is a magician at times.

Have you seen much of Fulham this season?

I've not seen an awful lot to be honest, only from going to Craven Cottage earlier in the season and whenever they've been on TV. It's a strange one to see Fulham where they have been all season, considering they have the likes of Ross McCormack and they came out of the Premier League at the same time as us. I think most people, like me, were expecting them to be challenging at the other end of the table.

Who in the Fulham squad do you think may cause problems?

I'm probably saying what most fans say to you when I mention Ross McCormack again. He's had several prolific seasons, and on the back of a hat-trick against Boro we do have to keep an eye on him.

Michael Turner proved to be a popular player on loan at Fulham – were you surprised to see him loaned out?

Yeah, that came out of nowhere really. He had fallen out of favour under Alex Neil, but even so he was good cover for Bassong or Russell Martin. And knowing how tough the Championship is it seemed like we'd need a centre-back – who'd already played so many games (24) for us this season – kept in the fold.

Norwich haven’t beaten Fulham in 17 attempts – you really don’t like facing the Whites, do you?

Yeah our record against Fulham really is atrocious, they are the absolute definition of a bogey team. I don't know what it is, no matter how we play against Fulham we just can't win! Last year in the Premier League was a prime example; we absolutely dominated the game at Craven Cottage towards the end of the season but were either stopped by wonder saves or brilliant defending, even the manager at the time Felix Magath admitted they were very lucky. It just always seems to be the way against Fulham unfortunately. 

What’s the best and worst thing about a trip to Carrow Road?

The best thing is that you get to visit a nice city! Also, if you’re coming by train it's easy to get to with pubs/bars close by and a short walk from the station to the ground. Plus the away end is also in the newest stand so it's good quality for away fans and a good view. The worst thing is that we tend to be quite high on ticket prices unfortunately.

Where can away fans go for a pint before the game?

The Compleat Angler tends to be the main away pub but there's a Wetherspoons down the riverside which tends to be okay for away fans if they’re not wearing colours.

How do you see the game going?

I think the game will see us taking it to Fulham. We will be looking to get back into a winning mentality and put our last two results [a draw with Rotherham and defeat by Middlesbrough] behind us so that we can take some momentum forward into the Play-Offs.

What score prediction are you going for?

I'm going to be brave and predict that we can beat the jinx; 2-1 Norwich.    

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