And then there was nothing…
Well, not quite nothing. There will be stuff, like a new head coach, lots and lots of rumours and, eventually, (probably) lots and lots of new faces.
But until pre-season eventually manifests itself into games of actual football all we have left is to cogitate on what might have been and dream of what may lie ahead.
As it transpired yesterday was littered with fun, poignancy and frustration in almost equal measure, and there’s no question we can do good send-offs when they’re warranted; John Ruddy’s final hurrah being right up there with anything witnessed in the old place.
What happened on the green stuff was almost a sideshow to everything else but we were left with one final reminder of what might have been if Alex Neil had been able to add backbone and Championship standard defending to City’s unquestionable creativity and thrust when heading in a forward direction, particularly away from home.
City brushed aside QPR with nonchalance. Ian Holloway’s said afterwards, “We were beaten by a better side, a better club at the moment…” and based on the evidence put before us he absolutely spot on. It was men against boys as they say.
All of which unfortunately means ‘Jack’ in the greater scheme of things and what remains significant, regardless of the pleasing aesthetics we were treated to yesterday, is that City finished the season a whopping ten points shy of sixth place. And however we wish to dress it up…
But we’re good at doing ‘joie de vivre’ on the final day of the season, as Watford can testify, and despite underwhelming the faithful over the last nine months there was a sense of carnival as Ruddy’s farewell, along with several other rather more low key departures, was given the full Carrow Road treatment.
Seven years of service were given due recognition from all four corners and there was added poignancy to the pre-match and post-match hugs afforded the Big Man by his team-mates; warmth and respect being evident in every embrace.
But we move on and we move on apace. Ruddy spoke post-match of recognising his fate before it was formally revealed to him and it’s clear the players have been made acutely aware that some serious clothing-cutting is underway.
The low-hanging fruit – aka those out of contract and who would be costly to retain – have been picked but now the real work begins for Mr Webber.
Alan Irvine alluded to the fact that most of the players (not the staff) know their fate, or at least the plan – or otherwise – for their Carrow Road future, but it’s crystal clear that some big earners are not going to be easy to shift even if that’s the ideal scenario, such are the terms of their existing deals.
We watch and we wait.
Interestingly, one of two of the senior pros who would may have been on the ‘available’ list have put forward a case in the last few weeks for being retained, and I’m talking in particular Graham Dorrans, who was excellent yesterday.
Whether Stuart Webber agrees is an entirely different matter – and right now his view is the only one that matters – but Dorrans has reminded us that sitting deep alongside Jonny Howson he’s able to offer a range of passing that’s not perhaps the Championship norm. On his day he can be an asset.
Wes too, on his big day, reminded us that there are scenarios where he and Alex Pritchard can dovetail nicely together, and while the time for offering Webber food for thought has probably gone it’s worth acknowledging that even as things stand there appears more than a little to work with. To go the full Edwin Collins would risk losing some of the good things we have.
But there goes 2016/17, albeit the preparations for 2017/18 are well and truly underway.
How do you think we will all be feeling on May 8, 2018?
“On the Ball City…”