I know I keep harping on about it, but I’m still struggling to get my head around the almost serene way the City fanbase are effortlessly gliding their way through the run-up to a new season in the Premier League.
For a whole host of reasons, we truly are in unchartered waters.
While Daniel Farke has spoken another of ‘one or two additions’, to date only Josip Drmic, Patrick Roberts and Ralf Fährmann are in the house – the latter two season-long loans – and the only angst on social media is around who’s next to be rewarded with an improved contract.
If 5 pm arrives are there’s no announcement, folk get twitchy – although to be fair there aren’t many of the Class of 2019 left to be rewarded.
But what a sensible way Stuart Webber and Co have gone about spending the additional money that [note] won’t start filtering through to the City’s bank account immediately. Nothing silly, nothing outrageous, nothing especially risky, but instead a succession of thank yous to the heroes who got us to this position in the first place and who have now been tasked with keeping us there.
And while that may be a different route to take to almost every other team that has been promoted to the Premier League in its history – and certainly differs from the Aston Villa theory – it’s one that makes perfect sense for Norwich City and the unique path the board have opted to take us down.
But, as I’ve noted before, these contract extensions are not borne of sentiment. Every single one has been hard-earned and awarded because Webber and Farke believe in this group of players and believe that, both individually and collectively, they are good enough to operate at the very highest level. It also obviously offers the club financial security if/when the player departs.
Only time will tell if the aforementioned faith is justified but there’s no doubt it’s absolute and will fill those awarded with new contracts with an enormous sense of belief and confidence (so wanted to say ‘wellbeing’) – qualities that are an absolute must when entering the rarified air of the Premier League.
Of course, the scoffing has already begun as it emerges that the £20 million figure quoted in the national media as Farke’s transfer ‘war chest’ looks likely to be not far off the mark. I’ve already lost count of the number of Twitter ‘experts’ who have gone early with their predictions and who have, to a man and woman, City down as unequivocal certs for relegation with 20th place absolutely nailed on.
It’s the total certainty that’s so amusing/irritating – as I’m sure it will be when the professional pundits start delivering their pearls of wisdom in the form of a Premier League 1 to 20 – and the complete dismissal of our chances of doing anything but plummet back from whence we came quicker than you can say ‘parachute payment’.
And when justifying it, the response is invariably the same – “you’ve not spent enough money” or sometimes… “you’ve not got enough money”. All clever stuff that proves only that said expert is not quite as clued up as he or she thinks.
But, as we keep telling ourselves, it’s something we have to get used to, and as Stuart Webber puts it, we have to ‘ignore the noise’, however difficult it is when most of the comments are so ill-informed.
I await eagerly the thoughts on our chances from the perceptive minds of Sam Allardyce and Dean Saunders.
Like most of the Yellow Army, I remain confident of our chances of holding our own, especially having witnessed first-hand the lovely football this band of brothers can play and their willingness and desire to overcome any hurdles put before them.
We know there’s a mountain to be climbed even to reach 17th, but the unerring belief of those in charge that this is do-able is infectious… and when listening to either our Sporting Director or Head Coach, you’re left believing that they’ve got this. It’s all in hand.
And here’s the thing – whatever happens over the next ten months, next summer will be a very different spectacle to this, and I’m not talking about the European Championships 2020.
City will have either survived – in which case our head coach and star players will have caught the attention of those who are not self-funded – or will have proved the experts right and be preparing for a Championship campaign, and therefore ripe for cherry-picking by those who will have been impressed by what they saw.
Either way, with the best will in the world, this squad will be the subject to ten times the scrutiny it has this summer, with the best and brightest being tempted with offers way beyond those we can match.
All of which makes the work of Webber over the last couple of months all the more crucial. The players are being rewarded and the club is being protected – the classic win-win.
But that’s a year down the line and a lot can, and probably will, happen before then. In the meantime, I’ll try not think too hard and adopt the ‘let’s just enjoy the ride’ advice that I offer so freely to others.
Just one more thing ….. C’MON ENGLAND #CWC 🙂