So we prevailed.
I’m certainly not going to claim that I knew we’d be safe all along or that our end of season renaissance was written in the stars.
Far from it.
After the bitter disappointment of our home defeat to Aston Villa I had resigned myself to the prospect of imminent relegation so much that my letter giving fourteen days notice of my intent to resign any and all interest in the Premier League was written, stamped and ready to post.
It’s therefore been invigorating to have seen my thoughts of despair proved wrong. Again.
All too often I write my team off only for my usual negative tendencies to be shown up in the most dramatic and implausible manner – not least that wonderful 3-2 at the Etihad. A shame that particular achievement has been ignored or, at best, written off as a quirky end-of-season one-off in more general footballing circles, but that’s how it goes when you’re a Norwich fan, we never win games, the opposition always lose them.
Que cera cera.
We can, therefore, draw a veil over the season that has just ended. There will be analysis in abundance over our performances over the last nine months or so, positives lauded and negatives revisited.
The players, the manager, the coaching staff, the tactics – and, inevitably, back to the players again. Who should stay, who should go and who we should sign – with suggestions and rumour surrounding the latter occasionally bordering on the ridiculous.
All the standard fare of an English footballing summer and, don’t you just know it, if we haven’t signed at least half a dozen new players by the end of June then those with a functioning grindstone about their person will be bringing out their blunted axes of discontent.
I tend to disregard any and all rumours until we see the obligatory photograph of a new player holding the shirt up for the benefit of Archant’s photographers – but it can be entertaining stuff and I look forward to reading the early tales of the wild, wacky and absurd world of Norwich City soon.
Aside from that, summer tends to be a time for reflection and a more considered, even objective approach to the game and the team we all love. A favourite pursuit of mine is to look back at the dearly departed season that has just passed and to compare it to previous ones, especially with regards to the players that we have regarded as our own this season. The great and the good, the old and the new.
Wes Hoolahan continues to impress and has done so now for longer than any of his team mates, a veteran Canary of nearly five years standing now and a shining beacon of light that stands out amongst the Mordor-like wreckage of Glenn Roeder’s Norwich.
Indeed, Wes and Grant Holt, mainstays in the side during our League One campaign and remaining thus ever since will go into next season as important to us at that time as they have ever been, a pairing who provide vision and venom alike, Wes the creator, the magician in the ranks who sees opportunities and a chance to create a little chaos where others see brick walls whilst Grant is the ever willing fulcrum of the side, a leader who both teammates and fans feed off and a player who, just as the season came to its conclusion was beginning to look like his old self again.
Both are now names synonymous with Norwich City and both will continue to play a part in the season to come – for, despite all of its riches, we will, surely, be as reliant on their respective gifts as we have always been?
How, I wonder, will they be looked at in the future, when they have left us and moved on?
Will they be regarded as Canary heroes and carry with them the label of club legend? Or will they merely be names amongst names, players who came and went, did their bit and moved on?
Put it another way, if you were devising your all time Norwich City XI a decade from now, how likely do you think their names – or, indeed, any of the current playing staff – will feature?
Indeed, taking that a step further, who would be in your all time Norwich City XI and who would be your manager of that star studded line up?
With the summer now here it seems as good a time as any to review my own choice as to which players would make up that line up – and would be interested in seeing the choice of some of the MFW pundits who follow these pages. It seems likely that if you locked 100 of us into a room and asked us to all name our dream XI, there wouldn’t be one completely identical selection – but there are plenty of players who will all feature very strongly – and maybe a few perceived off the wall choices as well.
My ‘rules’ of selection are simple. Firstly, they must be players who I have seen and ‘experienced’ as Norwich players in my time as a supporter of the club. And, secondly, none of the current players of Norwich City are eligible for selection – hence the earlier teaser about the prospects of any of the current players featuring in either my, or anyone’s, selections in later years.
There are two current players who I can see staking a very firm claim to a place in my side one day, depending on how they perform over the coming seasons but, right here and right now, they are ineligible for selection, something which I hope continues to be the case for several years.
TUNE IN TOMORROW TO SEE ED’S ALL-TIME CITY XI…