The stage was set, Friday night under the lights at Carrow Road, the perfect setting to spark a Norwich revival, but it was less fireworks and more light work – for Watford anyway – with City falling to another routine 2-0 defeat.
Prior to kick-off, the Hornets were rock bottom, having scored just six goals – a tally Teemu Pukki had mustered on his own.
Writing this column has become a weekly source of déjà vu, and to tell the truth, I could copy and paste previous articles from the West Ham, Burnley, Crystal Palace or Brighton games and just change the name of the scorers. Regardless of how the goals came about, the aforementioned teams were comfortably two goals better than City.
But with it being the international break, we have some respite and so this week I would like to do something different for two reasons: 1) I don’t wish to further contribute to the rhetoric surrounding Friday night, the game has been dissected thoroughly, and 2) there is something else bothering me.
As much as I’d like to, I can’t affect results on the pitch, but I can weigh in on subjects that concern the fan base. We all have that in common, we are all Norwich fans.
In recent weeks, the Championship vs Premier League debate has re-surfaced, with certain fans wishing the Canaries were back in the Championship.
I can understand the argument, with City propping up the Premier League table after a string of poor results, the outlook is bleak for the Canary faithful at this time. It’s certainly a stark contrast to the success of last season and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve seen this argument develop – because this season has so far been such a contrast to last season. This has exacerbated the emotions felt within the fan base.
The Pink’Un ran a poll – basically, ‘would you rather the Championship or the Premier League?’ At the time of writing, 66% of voters opted for the Championship and while it would be foolish to draw a concrete conclusion from such a poll, I was shocked to see that two-thirds of voters would prefer to watch City in the second tier.
It left me thinking, what is the point?
Why did we all push so hard for promotion if two-thirds of us would rather stay in the Championship?
Why did the club go to the trouble of opting for a new direction in terms of operating model all whilst under such tight financial considerations?
Why did Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke bother to rip up the rule book, ignore the noise and achieve promotion in such style?
What was the point if the fanbase is so unambitious?
My honest opinion is that it’s a ludicrous opinion. You don’t miss the Championship; you miss winning every week.
While I enjoy both winning and the ultra-competitive nature of the Championship as much as anybody, it is in no way better than the Premier League – not in terms of the football on display, not in terms of coverage and, of course, the financial disparity between the two leagues is enormous.
With the questionable decisions the club have made in the past in terms of recruitment and deciding where funds are invested, the wealth of the Premier League has been a blessing. That much has been revealed with last week’s release of the 2018/19 accounts.
The sale of James Maddison is a case in point. The fee upwards of £20 million was not reinvested, instead, the proceeds of the sale were used to plug a financial gap created by mismanagement in the past. That is the reality of year-on-year Championship football – a player has a good season and he is sold in order for the club to continue operating at that level.
Is that what we as a fanbase want? Years of mediocrity in the Championship? You only need to look as far as the other end of the A140 to see where that leads you. We’ve been there ourselves, it’s tough.
Personally, I think wishing Norwich City were still in the Championship belittles the work of the players, staff, directors and fans, who have worked tirelessly to get the club to the ‘Promised Land’.
We are all a small part of a professional sports club, one which solely represents its county. We all wanted this and while it hasn’t been a pretty watch for much of this season, we cannot give up at the first hurdle.
As someone who dedicates time to writing a weekly column on the topic of Norwich City, as well as devoting time for research and filming a weekly podcast, discussing the details of yet another 2-0 loss is a hard slog.
It would be far more enjoyable to write and record after a Norwich win, even if that win came in the Championship, but that isn’t how professional sport works.
Surely, we all want our team to be competing at the top end of domestic football; we want Norwich players playing well for their country; we want to see them do well in international tournaments, and above all else, we want to see the city and county represented in the top flight.
There is nothing wrong with lower league football, the romance associated with that level of football is special, but if you want that head to King’s Lynn to get your dose instead to bemoaning the ruthlessness of the best league in the world.
Make no mistake, City are up against it and as hard as it is at times, we must get behind the players with full force. The alternative is eventually slumping to relegation and losing some of our better players, either due to finances or the player wanting to play in the Premier League.
What Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke are trying to achieve is brave. It’s not going so well at this moment in time, but it is nonetheless brave. So, it is about time we fans showed the same level of bravery.
Yes, it’s difficult to find silver linings at the moment; yes, it’s getting difficult to see where the next point is coming from, but that’s part and parcel of supporting Norwich City. That’s why we still had a full house every week in League One and that’s why we were able to pull off so many late winners last season.
The fans are what makes this club special and if we are to stay up this season the players will need the backing of every single one of us.
Don’t forget that just because it’s not going our way on the pitch.