For many a reason, this season is in danger of passing me by.
For the first time in the better part of 17 years , I’ve ended up very much the outsider looking in to events at Carrow Road.
I’ve done a couple of games and a handful of trips up to Colney for a Press conference and that, basically, is it.
Tis pretty much Tom’s show now. So any observations I might make are based on little more than distant impressions; that and having been round the block too many times to mention in those said 17 years.
But certain points haven’t escaped my notice.
Like Norwich’s new-found ability to dig out pretty ugly 1-0 wins as and when the situation demands.
Having a decent lump up front who should be good for 25-plus goals this season – that’s different.
And having a couple of kids floating about the place that are already doing a man’s job – that’s different. In years gone by, their form has been temporary – class, likewise.
This time round, however, and the likes of a Korey Smith deserve great credit for the level of consistency he appears to be hitting in his first, full season as a pro. That’s a sure sign of genuine class.
And that’s different.
What’s not different, of course, is the level of support the club still commands – even in the third tier of English football, it continues to amaze.
Nor is the ownership of the club any different to what it has been for the last 13 years; Delia Smith and her husband, Michael Wynn Jones, continue to be the club’s principal shareholders – just as much as there continues to be endless speculation as to who the club’s next owners might be.
I’m always ready to take a call, was the message from the club chairman this week as he revealed that Keith Harris’ quest to find a knight in shining white armour continued to draw a blank.
And in the absence of said saviour, the club would continue to make do and mend as best it could; ever mindful of the financial pitfalls that litter the path ahead.
Not that bagging someone off The Sunday Times Rich List is any guarantee of success.
One false move on the managerial front and it can still go horribly wrong.
Just ask Ipswich.
So, in that sense, little’s changed. You could have had Peter Cullum and got Roy Keane for manager.
As it is, you’ve still got Delia and got Paul Lambert. Who, by all accounts, is not a man to fritter away what’s left of the club’s transfer kitty.
Far better to reward a K Smith for his efforts than to offer a J Smith four months of rehab on his way to, er,…. Where is Jimmy Smith these days?
Therein, of course, lies one little bitter pill that might have to be swallowed should substantial inward investment not be forthcoming; that all Norwich and Lambert might be doing is fattening up a Korey Smith for a future sale; like it or not, that might be part of David McNally’s medium-term thinking… that City have to cash in on their home-grown talent far more than they have in the past.
That they have – in part – to look to a Southampton and see what they did with the Bales and Walcotts of this world to recognise that one way forward might have to be regular trips to the sales; that minus a Cullum or a Turner, churning out kids that sell could be a key to City’s longer-term financial survival.
But clearly that’s a policy that plays with fire – or ire, in the case of the ever-loyal supporters who didn’t shell out their season-ticket money just to keep Spurs Reserves supplied with fresh, Norfolk meat.
And this is where it gets interesting; that and the price of said Norfolk meat.
Because selling Norfolk’s finest tends to hit an emotive chord; it gets people wound up; at board level, it can get people digging that much deeper into their pockets – particularly when a club is on the rise; that’s when people look for shows of financial strength. And some respond.
I hadn’t really thought about it before – until Barry Skipper mentioned it the other day. In times of recession, we eat more chicken.
High in protein; relatively low in cost – it’s the housewives’ favourite when times are hard.
In short, it’s not a bad time to be big in poultry.
So if there was a message for these intriguing times, it would be this… eat more nuggets; dine out on drummers. It may yet keep you in Korey Smiths this winter.