“It’s obviously easier if someone’s dumping a lot of cash in, as long as you’ve got the right structure. But I absolutely think it’s sustainable to be in the Premier League with the funding structure we have, if we’ve got the right set-up to spend the money properly.”
“If you’ve got the right coach, you sign the right mentality of player and get them in early, it gives you six weeks for them to gel. Because our identity and the way we played was so nailed at Huddersfield, it was easy from a tactical point of view for people to settle in.”
We often agree that most of our football discussion comes down to opinion. Should City start with Jerome or Oliveira? How many games should Wes be asked to play? Who is our worst central defender? We can debate all those and more.
Interesting as the new Sporting Director (and for some of us, the process of getting him) is, the real excitement will come with the appointment of a Head Coach. Given Webber’s track record, it should be exciting even if we’ve never heard of him. It will bring to life the issue of which players stay and go in the summer.
Whenever we get back to the Premier League we’ll need to use a big chunk of the income to strengthen the squad (i.e. what we failed to do in summer 2015). However smart our recruitment this summer, we’re simply not in a financial position now to build a PL team. So my view is: grab any chance at promotion.
Our owners shouldn’t be closed to outside investment. It’s my understanding that Delia’s Times interview and Michael’s comments at the AGM were borne of frustration at previous attempts to find investors, and came over as more closed and definitive than they actually are.
It has to evolve and change over time. Giving David McNally free rein to supervise and intervene in every aspect of the club’s operation was crucial (as was Bowkett’s re-negotiation of our debt) in steering the club away from disaster in 2009. But it’s not the right way for Norwich City in 2017.
Relegation reduced City’s income by around half. The club’s good housekeeping, the relegation clauses in its contracts and parachute payments have helped to mitigate the situation, but they don’t fill the gap.
Undoubtedly the issues go further than the manager. But who can deny the manager is a significant part of the problem? Mathematically we can still make the play-offs, but under the current arrangements there’s no chance of the sustained form it would take.
We’ve had few problems scoring this season, but a shocking rate of goals at the other end. Quietly, however, it’s been improving. In the last ten league games of 2016 we conceded 18; in the ten of 2017, we’ve conceded just 11.
Maths isn’t the issue. The issue is form. Stepping back from the disappointment of the weekend, that’s surely open to different interpretations. Burton was another unsatisfactory day; more performances like that will clearly prove the pessimists right. And unless we improve our away record, we’ll fall short.
We had an exceptional run from February in 2015. However, we don’t actually need to replicate it. We finished third and but for a couple of late slips, we might well have grabbed one of the automatic spots. We were eight points clear of the team who took the last playoff place (can’t remember who that was).
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Board is well aware of fans’ feelings, and would rather go with them than against them. The situation is that the Board – rightly or wrongly – genuinely believe in their path. On that basis they’re prepared to defy the fans’ wishes…
The Board may feel fate has dealt them a cruel card with that fixture, and the obvious contrast in mood between Lambert’s time at Carrow Road and now. Rather than fate dealing the blow, though, I’m afraid they need to recognise it’s become a self-inflected one.
The Board is not powerless here. It could have ‘bitten the bullet’ and dismissed AN; for various reasons it has not taken that course. Having retained him, it could now act to make the second outcome more likely than the first.
Two diseases in football show very similar symptoms – so similar that it’s easy to get the diagnosis wrong. One is lack of commitment (also known as “not playing for the manager”, “lost the dressing room” etc). The other is lack of confidence.
In the five weeks since the AGM (a very long time in a crisis), we’ve heard nothing from the board. I can imagine and understand their unwillingness to get embroiled in unsatisfactory debate – but silence is even more unsatisfactory. But what won’t do are platitudes.
“You’ve been under intense pressure for the past twelve months. The way you’ve conducted yourself has been, in my view, admirable. But being the proud man you are, you may be the last to recognise that a break would benefit you.”
To my mind nothing before this season raised serious questions over Alex Neil’s ability, or the desirability of our keeping him. I was with the majority of Carrow Road in acclaiming him at the end of the Watford game in May.
Alex Pritchard is a quality playmaker, the rightful heir to Wes. His Ozil-like through ball to Robbie Brady for our third was an absolute joy; nice to think we have on our books the two best Number 10s outside the Premier League.