I’ve been elsewhere of late; head down pulling something together.
So all I saw of the Southampton game was the ‘highlights’. Which from a Norwich point of view can be summed up as ‘both of them’.
Which doesn’t wholly bode well for the last, fraught weeks ahead.
And the other point that has crossed my mind of late is a fairly simple one: what more is there to say?
The die is pretty much cast now. It was from the final day of January when the transfer window slammed shut.
The last option is, of course, to heave the manager out. And look for someone, somewhere, to perform a miracle if the ‘tipping point’ is a place in the bottom three.
With Liverpool (h), Manchester United (a), Chelsea (a) and Arsenal (h) awaiting in the in-tray. Best of luck…
So Sunderland (h), Swansea (a), West Brom (h) and Fulham (a) it is; 12 points to keep the Canaries with their noses firmly in the Premier League trough for another season.
Because next season – under whatever manager – is going to be so much different from this.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh. Maybe there is Johnny Fantastic out there who is going to sweep everyone off their feet with fine, flowing football that propels Norwich out of the common herd and into the top half of the table where they can look down calmly on the frantic fray below…
And still not pay anyone over £30,000 a week or whatever to get them there.
Which remains my principal rub; that, as in life, you get what you pay for.
Back to the matters in hand, however, and on the evidence of last Saturday, Norwich’s stomach for a fight didn’t exactly look there; the body language whiffed of trouble.
Because like everyone else out there, the dressing room will have looked at the fixture list and thought exactly the same as everyone else. Hmmmm.
But it is interesting to ponder what the thinking is within the boardroom. Close your eyes and pray might be one school of thought; another wing might be wondering that if we do nothing and we go down, how much of this is going to land on our lap?
I strongly suspect that boards being boards, they will be applying the Teflon armour plate to the boardroom door as we speak; that if a fate worse than death did, indeed, befall the dressing room below that’s where the buck stops. It doesn’t come back on us.
Though there will be one, large school of supporter thought that thinks replacing the manager with, say, seven games to go when four of them are Liverpool (h), Manchester United (a), Chelsea (a) and Arsenal (h) is all going to be far too little, far too late. Horse. Bolted. Stable door. Long. Re-arrange.
There was a sense a few weeks back that to drop into the bottom three was the tip point.
But Norwich could be 17th or 16th on the final weekend of the season and still go down.
And I am not sure that the new manager ‘bounce’ will do much in those final four games. In fact, one of the lessons to emerge from this season is how little ‘bounce’ the majority of managerial changes appear to bring.
Given the restrictions placed on any manager by both the restricted size of Premier League squads and the transfer window, whoever comes in will have to work with what they have got.
RvW is not about to grow three inches taller, be half a yard quicker and half a stone strappier just because he has a new manager.
And is there a man waiting in the wings, ready to arrive in an instant? That part wouldn’t surprise me. That is the kind of forward calculation that this board has demonstrated in the past that it is capable of.
But as each week passes and each game goes, so they are opening themselves up to charges of too little, too late.
For me, the decision point comes mid-Jan. And if you have a glaring hole in the midst of your team – like a wholly misfiring forward line – you have to address that.
Either the manager carries the can for bringing in said misfiring strike force and goes; or you stick with your man and give him the where-with-all to make good. To try again; find someone, somewhere, who can relight your fire. In front of goal.
Steve Bruce’s comment needs to be etched in stone. ‘In the English Premier League, any manager is only ever as good as his strikers…’
Them’s the choices. Neither are easy. And both cost.
Which is the point. Again. To succeed in the English Premier League, you have to take your business brain out of gear; forget everything that 40 years of commercial life has taught you and throw enough silly money at someone and someone’s agent to make this thing work.
And that might be Norwich’s downfall. That they are far too sensible for their own good.
That they are the last sane person left in asylum. And look where that gets you…