To end the year on such a low was rather too typical of City’s 2014.
Relegation, while not a “fate worse than death”, was verging on the catastrophic and, despite many of us expecting the Championship to be rather more fun than the Premier League, this season has been equally turbulent.
The decision to part company with Chris Hughton was met with almost universal agreement – at least at the time – with the majority agreeing that it should have happened sooner.
The poisoned chalice handed to Neil Adams with just five games remaining proved to be just that and, despite a noble goal-less draw at Stamford Bridge, little occurred to suggest he was the right man for the full-time appointment.
Since then rumours have emerged of those in power at Carrow Road having been impressed with his dealings of off-field shenanigans – which clearly contributed to his appointment – but in truth precious little happened on the green stuff to add weight to an underwhelming CV.
But he’s a smooth operator – who not only talks an exceptionally good game but who proved at Academy level that he could also coach – and over the summer months, while David McNally and co were ‘scouring Europe’ for viable candidates, he clearly continued to impress.
As the selection process was underway McNally, alongside Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones, spoke with Nick Conrad on BBC Radio Norfolk. Tellingly during that interview, even though none of us realised at the time, the talk of Adams being a ‘credible candidate’ was the first feint trace of white smoke.
When it was made official, on the same day that Neil Lennon departed from Celtic, the term ‘underwhelmed’ was on the tip of the collective tongue. Some greeted the news with apoplectic rage. A few with contentment.
But it became immediately clear that, for the majority, the rapturous reception afforded to Adams as he walked across the Craven Cottage pitch was more to do with being free of Hughton-ism than it was of a desire for him to be our long-term saviour.
Such was the venom that greeted his full-time appointment, only a flying start followed by a continued winning run would have spared us the volatility that has now become part and parcel of supporting the Canaries. But the opening day defeat at Molineux, while followed by a good run, was an early sign that plain sailing was not on the cards.
And it’s been tough. A struggle at times. Some good wins and some equally good performances have been matched by those of an indifferent nature and right now I would suggest seventh place pretty much sums up the first half of City’s season.
In the aftermath of the Boxing Day win over a woeful Millwall the top two appeared in our sights (at least they did through my yellow tinted spectacles) but Sunday’s defeat at Reading and subsequent wins for Bournemouth and Ipswich served as a timely reminder of the consistency required for automatic promotion – something currently lacking from the Class of 2015.
But, for all the trials, tribulations and angst that have been laid bare since August – and which reared their ugly heads again post-Madejski – we still remain in reasonable fettle for an assault on the play-off places. No, it’s not what we wanted, or even expected at the end of September, but it’s where we are.
The change in mood betwixt 5pm on Boxing Day and 5pm on Sunday couldn’t have been more stark. It even took a veteran of 40-plus City supporting seasons by surprise. From feast to famine in the space of 48 hours. From unbridled optimism to complete desolation.
So much for meeting those two imposters, Triumph and Disaster, the same. We have never been very good at that. But, whether we like to admit it or not, we are still in with a shout, regardless of who is steering the rudder.
My biggest fear for 2015 is not for the club itself, but for the Yellow Army. Because, it feels like we should be bracing ourselves for a rocky one with every backward, or even sideways, step, almost certain to be greeted with an outcry; every emphatic win the sign of a corner having been turned.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we should sit on our hands when things are going badly or, equally should resist wildly celebrating a success (that’s the very lifeblood of a football fan), but right now it feels the only prospect of peace breaking out is if we we win most of our games and definitely avoid defeat. And that’s not going to happen.
But I predict we will make the play-offs and, without delving into the stats, suspect that four more ‘Decembers’ (which yielded 10 points) will probably be enough. But the road will be rocky and not without trauma.
The playing squad – regardless of how it emerges the January transfer window – is more than capable and the club has the financial cushion. But the next few months will reveal whether said squad has the heart, hunger and desire required for promotion. And also whether the board was right to appoint Adams and to then bolt on some experience when it all started to head southwards.
If the answer to both is yes, then 2015 could yet be a good one. If not, the Yellow Army will divide further still.
Let’s hope and pray for the former.
A Happy New Year to you all and thanks, as ever, for visiting MyFootballWriter