Wherever the fingers point, one thing that most people seem to agree on is that this isn’t a mere blip and that our current woes are reflective of deep-rooted issues within the club which don’t bode well for the future.
For certain players, that simply means not making a howler or screwing things up. For others – those with a hefty price tag or reputation for example – the expectations are higher.
We’ve had debate over increasing the capacity, either through redevelopment of Carrow Road or relocation; debate over the merits of changing the age profile of the fan base and reinvigorating the atmosphere at games by altering the balance of season ticket holders and casual supporters.
Russell Martin faced the media following the Brighton debarcle and suggested that some of our players had given up. For me, the contrast couldn’t have been starker.
It’s ‘only’ football and in the grand scheme of things, we should all remember that life is too short to get that worked-up. But when has common ever applied to being a football fan? It’s our passion and on this occasion, the outpouring of frustration and anger was entirely justified.
Despite our relative wealth in Championship terms, we all know that Norwich City have financial constraints. Our ‘salary cap’ is defined, not by the League, but by those who hold the purse strings at Carrow Road – or rather those who own (and fill) the purse in the first place.
It’s been a long time since City have had the supposed comfort of closing out a season without either a promotion or relegation battle and facing those ‘six-pointers’ that bring with them moments of sheer ecstasy or abject misery.
It’s commonplace for a buying team to play down the scale of a transfer or insist that the fee is ‘undisclosed’ to suggest that they got value from the deal. However the new Villa owner seems intent on demonstrating just how deep his pockets are and to openly publicise just how much money he has spent.
City were never going to steam-roll their way through the division and displays like that at Ewood Park will be few and far between. However in order to challenge for promotion the team needs to fulfil its considerable potential and more importantly do it consistently.
“At half-time, with the home team trailing by over sixty points, the dog wearily got up, urinated against a wall and left the stadium. It was the most damning and yet apt review of a sporting performance that I have ever witnessed…
On the same morning that McCormack signed for Villa, City announced the signing of Alex Pritchard, which certainly softened the blow. It also served to counter the accusations that our Board are unable to conclude their business quickly. In essence, Norwich did to Brighton what Villa did to Norwich and what Brett did to me…
Standing nine feet tall and stuck down the pecking order at Newcastle, Forster was a Lambert signing to replace the hapless Theoklitos in what Andy Townsend might have described as the “ultimate chalk and cheese type scenario”.
Many of the players who clinched promotion were those who suffered relegation the season before. As results took a turn for the worse, the face-palming of Messrs Ruddy and Bassong had an all too familiar feel of darker days gone by. It create a sense of déjà vu and an uneasy feeling that the writing was on the wall.
Of all the goals that City conceded in injury time, Lallana’s strike was surely the most painful. Not only did we fail to take any points from a game that was all but won, it also shattered the belief amongst players and fans alike that we had the ability to hold on to a lead as became painfully evident against West Ham shortly after.
Miss a good chance; make a mistake; concede a goal; and watch the opponents play keep ball until you ultimately go home feeling deflated. No Leicester fairy tale for us; just week after week of hard grind and ultimate disappointment.
In a previous column, I made the claim that we had been on the wrong end of all manner of decisions and inferred that we were the victims of a conspiracy theory that would grace any grassy knoll in Dallas. But again, is that bad luck or yet more examples of individual errors?
It would take a far braver man than me to argue the point with him but from my vantage point in the stands, some of our displays (the no-shows at Bournemouth and Villa for example) were suggestive of a team bereft of confidence and littered with personal mistakes and self-doubt.
We’re still up to our necks in the ‘brown stuff’ but suddenly the world is a brighter place. Four points from the last two games and the end of our win-less streak puts a spring in the step; a renewed and genuine sense of belief that we’re capable of hauling ourselves out of this.
After a goalless first half, the game burst into life with Robbie Brady winning the ball before smashing the ball into the roof of the net; the Irish international furthering his claims to win the player of the season despite regularly being deployed out of his best position…
Last time it was Swansea, this time it’s Bournemouth; teams which were promoted alongside us but which subsequently captured the national media’s imagination in a way that we didn’t. The praise being heaped on Eddie Howe and the whole Bournemouth fairy tale has become tiresome.