It is perhaps their similarities to our club, or empathy of how far they have fallen, but there could surely be few fair-minded Addicks at The Valley on Saturday who would have begrudged Norwich their promotion celebrations. In fact, I can’t think of many teams who I could observe in total delirium in the Jimmy Seed Stand without any form of bitterness or resentment. Good on ‘em; well done Norwich – a job well done and thoroughly deserved!
Envious? Yes, massively, and I’ll freely admit it. As I basked in the sunshine outside The Valley pre-match, enjoying the sense of promotion fever, I couldn’t help but feel immensely envious of the swathes of yellow and green shirted Norwich fans that had turned up in typically impressive numbers to celebrate together. Lets face it, Norwich have looked nailed-on certainties for some time, but – and I guess this is why I like the club – they didn’t appear to gloat about it or take it for granted. Even those Norwich fans I spoke to on the way to the ground would not allow themselves to speak of promotion until it was mathematically certain. In reality, even after their defeat at Leyton Orient in the week that may have added unnecessary pressure to Saturday’s game, Norwich would have found it almost impossible to have mucked things up! The statistics of the game may rightly give the appearance we had total control, and although I would agree we deserved something out of the game on the basis of the team’s effort and commitment, you always sensed that Saturday was, for Norwich, more about avoiding defeat than a burning desire to win. I think it fair to say they weren’t in top gear at any stage of the game and were quite happy defending the edge of their box. It a shame we couldn’t manage it, as I don’t think they’d have been too bothered if we’d equalized and we could have gone home reasonably happy with a draw. Football just doesn’t work that way and sometimes you have to accept that your best efforts will not prove to be enough as the day belonged to someone else.
Results elsewhere served only to rub salt in the wounds of defeat as victory on Saturday would have put the fate of the season in our own hands. As we face the uncertainty ahead, how I would take that scenario now! Once again, the fine lines between success and failure could not be more evident; the images of the jubilant Norwich fans serving only to highlight the importance and value of promotion and how much we have to loose should it end in failure. You can follow football your whole life and never be able to predict it.
So, thankfully, we move on quickly from Saturday’s defeat and I remain far more optimistic at present than I was a month or so back. I take great heart in the fact we don’t seem to be giving up possession so freely and we look far more solid as a unit, particularly at the back. We look mentally strong enough, and that can't be undervalued. I think Semedo’s great form has lifted and inspired everyone. One area of concern for me is Bailey, who’s clearly struggling to find form and make an impact on the left of mid-field. The solution to this problem is not an easy one - especially as he has the skippers armband - but that's something Parkinson must consider long and hard this week, with more than a passing thought about the leadership qualities of Sir Christian of Daily.
So....one up, two more to go, and I bet the BBC Predictor is working overtime at the moment. For the record, I gave it a go myself this morning, making every effort to stay impartial, and the results were most welcome with us taking the second automatic promotion spot with two points between us and Millwall in third.
Of course it ultimately means nothing, and the twists and turns will prove agony in the next few weeks.