No, it doesn’t all come down to this one game. But if we leave aside the crazy mathematics that would theoretically allow for Newcastle to finish on 43 points while Palace and Watford went down with Villa, we know in our hearts what is at stake at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Norwich start with the advantage of having been able to win games more recently than us. The four-point gap would be wiped away if we beat them and at least draw our game in hand. But as things are, it’s a cushion all the same; Sam Allardyce somehow has to stop them using it to smother us, and realistic hopes of survival.
Has that curious sense of optimism Malcolm Dawson talked about here the other day now evaporated? Or do we still dare to believe.
It is 31 years since we won a league game at Carrow Road – 3-1 – and we still went down, as they did, and managed to blow the Milk Cup final against them, too. Since then? Three draws and seven defeats, with one league cup win to us in 2009.
Pete Sixsmith will be up at the crack of dawn to make the long trip for a disgustingly early kickoff.
A loud and passionate army of red and and whites will be there with him to urge us on as the rest rely on TV, radio or internet streams, depending on where we find ourselves.
Sixer’s journey home if we’ve been beaten does not bear thinking about; the pain will be beyond cure, even at the fish and chip stop at Wetherby.
But Salut! Sunderland expects the usual display of optimism and blind faith in this week’s Guess the Score.
Norwich supporters and neutrals are warmly invited to join but should note that this is a partisan edition of the competition. Since the prize – a mug no less – or at any rate its cost is coming from Monsieur Salut’s pocket, only entries predicting a Sunderland win will be considered. If that seems arbitrary and unfair on Canaries, so be it. The time for honour in defeat has passed, though there isn’t usually a prize these days anyway, so it hardly matters.
There’s one thing in our favour, small as it is: Norwich fans are as nervous as us.
Gary Gowers, editor of NorwichCity.MyFootballwriter.com and the Norwich City blogger for Metro newspaper, is this week’s “Who are You?” interviewee and says this:
I dare not even contemplate a City defeat, so I’ll put that to one side for now. That just leaves a draw or a win. Well, a draw wouldn’t be the end of the road for both sides so expect it to be tentative, twitchy and probably a bit cautious. But (and this is my heart ruling my head) our recent win against Newcastle suggests to me that City can handle the big occasion, and therefore I’m going for City 2, Sunderland 1 in a nail-biting, bum-squeaker.
But earlier in the interview, he was sounding less upbeat: “There’s something that irritatingly tells me you’re destined to see it through…… again.”
Ha’way the Lads. See us through it again.