Norwich Focus - Fulham fixture brings echoes of a dreadful collapse
It is another big match for Norwich City this weekend in the Premier League as they entertain Fulham at Carrow Road. With no win in eight top flight matches, the taste of three points for Chris Hughton will be much welcomed. He hasn’t experienced it since a victory over Wigan on December 15, which took the Canaries briefly into seventh place in the table.
Victory against Fulham is paramount. The Cottagers are in a similar position in the league, in a similar bout of form and there isn’t much difference in the quality of the squads at the manager’s disposal. Fulham thrashed the East Anglian outfit 5-0 on the opening day, and took four points off Norwich last season.
Although two hard-fought points have been collected in recent games against London opposition in Tottenham and QPR, three points could be essential for the winner here. Victory for either should ease any relegation fears, and allow the opportunity to strive for finishing in the top half of the Premier League. Defeat for either and make no mistake, a very long and difficult spring awaits.
With the revived form of Reading and Newcastle, combined with the fighting spirit shown in abundance at Southampton and QPR, along with Wigan’s great history of escape acts and the unpredictable nature of Aston Villa, one of these teams could be in big trouble come May.
For Norwich fans, it could be echoes of what is still remembered as one of the most dramatic collapses in Premier League history.
In December 1994, the Canaries were once again punching above the weight in the third season of the league’s new structure known at the time as the Premiership.
Despite selling Chris Sutton to Blackburn for £5m in the summer, and losing strike partner Efan Ekoku to Wimbledon for £900,000 three months into the season, Norwich were sitting seventh in the table - ahead of the likes of Arsenal, Aston Villa and Leeds United.
Then it went totally pear-shaped. Goalkeeper Bryan Gunn broke his ankle on Boxing Day in a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. From that moment on, the Canaries campaign never recovered. They recorded a dismal 11 points from January to May 1995, lost another striker in Mark Robins to Leicester City and plummeted down the table.
Apart from a 3-0 victory in the East Anglian derby at home to Ipswich in March, the fans lost their patience with the then owner Robert Chase, as they wanted former manager Mike Walker back to recover the desperate situation. John Deehan resigned and Gary Megson couldn’t recover the sinking ship as caretaker. With just one win in their last 20 games, Norwich’s misery was complete.
Having looked like a UEFA Cup contender in December, the Canaries had tumbled out of the Premiership into Division One. They wouldn’t return for a decade. Supporters will be very keen for history to not repeat itself this season. Defeat on Saturday could promote a sense of déjà vu though around Carrow Road.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Norwich v Fulham