Roll on the summer. Villa Park just another reminder that this City crop is wholly unfit for purposeSun 2 Apr 17 by Gary Gowers
Not for the first time the EDP’s Paddy Davitt encapsulated perfectly an afternoon of watching Norwich City in less than 140 characters.
Quote: ‘If any1 was in any doubt this #NCFC squad needs an overhaul watch this game’.
And there it was, in a Twitter-shaped nutshell.
We didn’t learn anything yesterday – you rarely do in March – but it did confirm a few things, alongside quashing any daft notions we had about sneaking into the play-offs.
It confirmed that in order to move in a forward direction this club simply has to use the months of April, May and June 2017 to reinvent itself.
Off the field that reinvention is underway but for all the hope that’s been offered by the new model, for the supporters it’s the playing side of the operation where it really matters and where the success or otherwise of the summer turnover will be judged.
And for this club to move in a forward direction it’s a task that has to be undertaken without sentiment but with precision and certainty.
We’ve talked about it, written about it and cogitated over it since the opening exchanges of this season, when this ageing squad first revealed its lack of energy and soft underbelly, but now the time has almost arrived the seriousness of the predicament is becoming ever more crystal clear.
Yesterday’s defeat wasn’t the complete and total disaster it’s been painted in some quarters. It was just par for the course.
If MFW had gone all Family Fortunes and asked 100 Norwich supporters what will happen at Villa Park? I suspect the majority would have forecast a reasonable performance with plenty of pretty passing that would be ultimately undone by missed chances at one end and rotten defending at the other.
And so it came to pass.
That Alan Irvine found himself bemoaning the same misfortune that blighted Alex Neil’s record on the road pretty much tells the story: of a group of players who are simply bereft of the wherewithal to grind out results away from Carrow Road.
Despite the Yellow Army hoping and praying otherwise, to expect Irvine to get a tune out of this bunch when they had already lost ten away games while shipping goals at a rate of two per game was a near impossibility.
A technical area containing Mourinho, Pochettino, Conte and Guardiola would likely suffer the same fate, such is the brittleness of a defensive unit that has proven time and time again that it’s unfit for purpose.
The cull needs to be brutal, the cuts deep, and there needs to be an appreciation from the club’s top brass that to deliver the new head coach a squad equipped to deal with the rigours of the Championship will need some bullets to be bitten, some of them costly.
There is naturally risk associated with large scale turnovers but this is no time for a tweak here and a new face there; this needs the shedding of so much dead wood that if done properly Colney on 1st July could resemble UEA Freshers’ Week.
I’ll resist dissecting the current crop player-by-player (if you need an in-depth analysis look no further than Ian Clarke’s fine midweek offering) but it doesn’t require a degree in Sports Science to identify three of yesterday’s back-four as being unworthy of a Norwich City future.
Only Ivo Pinto, in my opinion, has earned a crack at 2017/18, and even he didn’t cover himself in glory yesterday, while the goalkeeping department is another that’s in need of a serious and unsentimental overhaul.
Clearly much hinges on the board’s ability to arm-wrestle their Huddersfield counterparts over the precise value of Stuart Webber’s worth but, for me, that particular piece of the jigsaw really can’t fall into place quick enough.
When it’s boiled down the summer recess is a relatively short one and eight and a bit weeks is not long for major surgery to be undertaken and for things to then settle down. If some of that time is eaten up with the appointment of a head coach then eight weeks can rapidly become six and with the clock is ticking that could equally rapidly turn to squeaky bum time if the squad is short of numbers, quality or both.
One thing this club has excelled at in the recent past is protracted transfer sagas, something that can be ill afforded this summer, and so one can only hope Stuart Webber – when he arrives – will bring a new approach to getting deals over the line.
But it’s not going to be easy. A different voice on the end of the phone with a more brusque demeanour than his predecessors will not automatically make it easier to cut through the swathes of agents, advisers and contractual paperwork, and with multiple deals likely to be on the boil at the same time it’ll be a Colney summer unlike any other.
The worrier in me ponders whether what needs to be achieved is going to take longer than the time available.
But these are intriguing times and that change is inevitable is one huge positive. And if Norwich City FC is unrecognisable from its current form on the opening day of next season then that too can only be a good thing.