I strongly suspect that tonight will be the night for bitter post-mortems.
Given Sunderland’s result at Old Trafford, that is ‘Good-bye and good night!’ as far as Norwich’s continuing membership of the English Premier League is concerned.
A fate worse than death has duly befallen McNally and Co as they look forward (sic) to the joys of re-inventing a Premier League football club for the trench warfare of the Championship.
Which, in short, means digging out two-thirds of the current playing staff for whom the Championship will have neither the time nor the respect for.
So, on the basis of everyone assuming a degree of responsibility here, what have the Board been guilty of?
And I think the answer to that is very simple.
They have been way too sensible for their own good. And, I suspect, that’s going to be a hard charge for someone with the clear business acumen of an Alan Bowkett to swallow. He has to learn to leave his business brain behind when he walks through the door of a professional football club.
Particularly one in the EPL where insanity rules; where the lunatics run the asylum; high as a kite on the millions that Sky, BT and Co throw their way.
Chris Hughton was a sensible guy; a sensible manager for a club intent on stabilising itself in the mid-reaches of the league. And being sensible about it, too.
More damning to their survival cause, however, was the sensible approach they took to player wages. It dictated what talent was therefore available to the manager – a Loic Remy was out of his reach; he was asked to fish in the pond that had Ricky van Wolfswinkel for sale.
Now this is the bit I don’t get. Where I struggle to compute.
For bar ten minutes against Everton on the opening day of the season, the poor lad has looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz – he lacks height, heart, pace and presence. And I don’t give a monkeys how many goals he scored in
You don’t run into a Vincent Kompany playing in Portugal. Or, indeed, any of the 40-odd centre-halves the EPL has to offer and out of whom RvW has got nothing.
Either the Board took Hughton’s opinion as read that this was the answer to their strike prayers – or else they did their own due diligence and came to the same conclusion.
Whichever way it worked, they dropped one almighty boll…. And will spend the rest of the summer trying to work out what exactly they do with him. His wages may well take a hit a league lower, but for my money – or rather the club’s – he is even less well suited to the back street brawl of the Championship than he was to the power and the athleticism required in the Premier League.
Johan Elmander looked a couple of years past his sell by; Gary Hooper was OK – but again, just because you can score goals against a St Mirren means diddly squat in this league. He does, at least, have half a chance in the Championship.
But this is the point we keep returning to. Steve Bruce’s.
‘In the English Premier League, as a manager you are only ever as good as your strikers…’
Carve that deep into the gravestone of the 2013-2014 season.
I suspect the summer might herald the arrival of someone in the mould of a Neil Lennon. If he gets Norwich to bounce back at the first time of asking, it will rank way higher than any Scottish Cup final triumph he might have on his managerial cv.
He has that hunger that bodes well.
But here is the lesson… And here is the challenge. If someone of a Lennon ilk does take Norwich back to the Promised Land, then what?
Will common sense again prevail? Southampton would suggest it is possible.
But they have an utterly fabulous youth policy that appears to churn out one star after the next. Kids that care about the badge, the club.
Somewhere in the system are Neil Adams’ FA Youth Cup winners; are the Murphys the way forward?
Because there’s a clutch of players there that didn’t give a toss; just as there were at Craven Cottage. Craven being the operative word.
Their agents will have them away. They will be fine. Noses still in the Premier League trough.
It’s tough. Ask any of those provincial football clubs. Speak to a Portsmouth fan and they would bite your hand off for Norwich-style sense and sensibility.
There are no easy answers.
And taking your brain out of gear business-wise is hardly ideal; and one suspects is beyond the ability of a Bowkett.
But poor little Ricky certainly wasn’t the answer. And therein lies the biggest question mark that hangs over Norwich’s miserable season.