It will take more than a couple of wins against Cardiff and Wigan to fix these various situations City have found themselves in.
Meek acceptance of the status quo, being grateful it’s not worse and nobody asking the pertinent questions just adds to the cacophony of disgruntled voices from both sides of the broad church of City fans.
An inexperienced manager without enough of a CV to waltz into another prestigious job, who is then not being fully backed or correctly supported/advised by the board…well that is a difficult situation to be in.
The man himself said in a press conference during August that ‘we’d like at least one more striker’ and most would assume that would’ve included Kyle Lafferty saying his goodbyes. We got one in in the shape of Nelson Oliveira and kept the lame duck Lafferty to sit and watch from the dugout for another few months.
Amazingly, we also blew £8million on a very nice but unnecessary accessory in Alex Pritchard. Throw into the fact we’ve somehow managed to come back to the Championship with a weaker strike force than we previously had two seasons ago, you really start to wonder whether there has been much of a strategy.
But that is all water under the Carrow Bridge now.
The only option left for Alex Neil is for him to win his way out of this current predicament. Make it to January, hope we can have a fruitful window and push on towards a third promotion back to the Premier League in just six years.
That is the purest definition of a yo-yo club by the way. But is that the best we can ever hope for? And are we being fanciful in wishing for more?
There was a brief time in 2012 where I thought we could establish and sustain ourselves in the Premier League. Lesser clubs have managed it for longer than three seasons.
“If finances were the measure of success, here is the very picture of a flourishing club – wages at 57% of £100m income, £9m profit made. But they are not, and Norwich went down.”Not my words but those of David Conn in the Guardian back in 2015 reporting on Premier League finances of each club from 2013-14.
I’ve pored over financial results from much more boring companies before so I’m not writing this column to be patronised over how to read club accounts or understand a business model. I get it. We run a tight financial ship, and under the guidance of David McNally we were able to become externally debt-free. We’ve even been turning a profit for the last few years, which is no simple task when you don’t have scale or an abundance of assets to aid you.
But quite simply what is the purpose of this model if it is not working? No point being the small-time greengrocer selling bruised apples outside a conglomerate like Tesco, because you know they’ll have the shiniest greenest bad boys in town.
Money makes the world go round, even more so in the world of football so if we don’t get a serious cash injection then Norwich is at risk of being a cumbersome operation with more bad apples than good.
When you are hamstrung like this as a business, the only real way for growth or success is to find a differentiator. E.g. Take a punt on a young, promising manager and start to scour the market or your own corridors for stars of the future. That’s exactly what we are doing now and as yet it is far too early to say whether the experiment will ultimately be a success.
Now I’m not saying for one minute we are a club in the doldrums on or off the pitch, far from it. We have a squad that is on paper capable of promotion. But I’d prefer the board to be proactive rather than reactive in all facets of the club.
For the last two or three years, we’ve been like me during my middle school sports day; full of enthusiasm, signs of promise…and then dazed and surprised when you’ve fell flat on your face.
It’s for the reasons explained above that I think after 20 years of being majority shareholders, now is the right time for Delia and Michael to allow the club to actively pursue new owners. They have previously stated in the past they are willing to step aside for the right outfit so perhaps they are still open to the possibility.
If we are to truly compete, and that doesn’t mean do our Grand Old Duke of York routine from next May again, then we need deeper pockets and a face with the ability to attract the big names.