Okay, so it’s that time. Or at least almost that time. With only two games to go – neither of which has any bearing on anything other than Leeds’ play-off chances – here is my A to Z of a season that’s been underwhelming, big on implosion, bizarre at times and (very) occasionally thrilling.
The average tenure of a football manager is 1.31 years. Alex Neil made it into his second year before getting the chop. Testimony perhaps to the value that our Board places on loyalty and stability; or (for the more cynical among us) the size of the rumoured pay-off.
After Naismith put City 4-0 up within the hour in the season opener at Ewood Park, City fans could be forgiven for relishing the prospect of a season spent sweeping all before them. It turned out that the ‘sloppy consolation’ goal that we conceded just minutes later was a far better indication of what was to come.
Some new ones, please.
Having feasted on 9-2’s and a play-off victory, this season’s fixtures against our nearest and not so dearest provided a stark warning of potential things to come. The ‘pride of Anglia’ was contested by two average Championship sides playing out ultimately meaningless draws. We may have to get used to it.
It feels like the end of one. An aging squad of players which have delivered both precious and bitter memories needs a complete overhaul which will surely bring down the curtains on the City careers of many familiar faces.
Or in more media friendly terms ‘individual errors’ – cost us time and time again.
144 (and counting) – more than any other team in the league. Just a shame so many have come at the wrong end.
Hoolahan or Howson
Who scored the best goal against Forest? Who should win the Barry Butler? Which one of them was naked in the dressing room photo? At least one of the answers is Jonny Howson – possibly all three?
There are only so many times you can say the same things before the words completely lose their impact. Whoever was offered up to the media was faced with the unenviable task of explaining performances which repeatedly failed to live up to expectations. As Mr Moxey (with his penchant for repeating things three times for effect) might say; “Blah, Blah, Blah”.
Six months is not a long time to make a lasting impression. But for someone picking up a hefty salary, we might have expected more than that hollow sound bite at the AGM, a pre-recorded ‘interview’ and an expensive FA cup ticket.
I refer you to ‘Centre backs’.
Birmingham, Newcastle, Brighton, QPR, Derby, Barnsley, Reading, Rotherham, Burton, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Huddersfield (plus cup exits at Leeds and Southampton). The travelling support deserve medals.
“When they’re on the pitch you can’t tell which one’s which” according to the terrace song. Jacob has got the nod over his brother for most of the season but both have had break through seasons and having committed to new contracts, they are surely a big part of City’s future.
Much like last season, the trip to St James’s proved to be dramatic and damaging. Deep into injury time, with City winning and facing the prospect of going 7 points clear of the Geordies, they imploded. With hindsight, it’s hard to make the argument that it would have made much difference. The cracks run far too deep to be papered over but those cracks were horribly exposed on Tyneside.
Depending on your view, we’re either blessed or cursed to have our majority shareholders. Either way, their interview for The Times (see ‘X’) proved particularly divisive and served to polarise the fan base even further.
‘Two of the few’ who can claim to have had a decent season, Messrs Pinto and Oliveira should both feature heavily next year. #PitchWarYellowArmy
“Is this a library?” the away fans taunt. No, it’s Carrow Road when Norwich fans are ‘treated’ to a season of disappointment and disillusionment.
Signing players who don’t feature in the first team and failing to strengthen the defence are damning indictments of the club’s disjointed recruitment strategy. Most of those responsible have lost their jobs. However, the signing of Pritchard could prove to be inspired provided the club builds a team around his talents.
Beautiful and bizarre in equal measure.
We’re likely to finish just outside the play-offs with a whole host of ‘what ifs?’. However, following the abject run that saw us drop out of the top six, the subsequent stumbling campaign and inability to gain any momentum meant that a return to Wembley was never really on the cards.
Listen to the commentaries or read the reports and one word crops up time and again when describing the goals we concede. Whether it’s free headers in the area or runners not being tracked, we have gifted simple goals to our opponents with basic defensive lapses.
Jonny Howson – you are a wonderful, wonderful human being.
The man who will lead the overhaul of our club is in place and whilst it’s still early days, his decisive words and actions are in marked contrast to a club that appeared to be sleep-walking its way into mediocrity.
“Football ownership has gone to Wall Street, Dubai or Hong Kong, It’s appalling. There’s all that Premier League money washing into people’s pockets and going back out to Europe, not into here because we’re buying foreign players.” Our majority shareholders may not like it, but this is the reality of the modern game.
£7/8 million pounds for a Dutch flop – where have we heard that before? A big season ahead for the winger to avoid becoming the next Ricky.
Too many players within an expensively assembled and well-paid squad contributed absolutely nothing to the cause; players who are perennially injured or content to pick up their inflated salaries rather than seek new pastures. Not their fault (perhaps?) but the ‘dead wood’ needs moving on.