Being 60 isn’t at all as I envisaged it when I was 20.
Happily, some of the physical declines aren’t as great as I imagined. On the other hand, wisdom remains elusive. Despite the years and experience, my friends (and certainly golf partners) would confirm that I’m still prone to making dodgy judgements and doing silly things.
One of the silly things I’ve done recently is speculate about players Norwich should sign this summer.
Sometimes it seems so logical. Having released Javier Garrido, we need another left back. A wide left midfielder/winger is also a gap, already acknowledged by Alex Neil when he tried to sign Craig Noone in January.
And we’re weak on consistent delivery into the box, especially when Gary O’Neil isn’t in the team.
So I suggested Robbie Brady should be on our target list. He ticks all of those boxes, is talented and well trained – having come through the ranks at Man Utd – has plenty of experience but is still only 23. He’d cost, but his versatility is a huge plus. Perfect for us, surely?
Well, yes, as far as my view goes. But it’s very limited one.
If Brady has a disruptive personality, a gambling addiction or one of many other good reasons for us not touching him, I don’t know it. However, David McNally and Alex Neil do. Any professionally-run club – this doesn’t necessarily apply to QPR – would do that kind of homework and more.
The point is that however keen people like me are on our football, we’re simply ignorant about crucial factors in determining whether a given player is right for our club.
It’s fun to speculate, but essentially we have a decision to make: do we trust our manager and chief executive to sign the right players to take us forward?
As a Norwich fan in June 2015, I know my answer to that question.
I suspect we’ll be surprised at some of the players coming into Colney during the summer; one or two may even fall into the Alex (“who the xxxx is he?”) Neil category.
But let’s keep an open mind and consider – something more easily done at certain times than others – that the manager may actually know better than we do.
Obviously, the presence of Alex Neil is a big reason for optimism about the coming season. However, I’d bracket that with the presence of David McNally.
His tenure at Norwich has been five years of remarkable success and one of failure. The hurt of that failure makes him determined to avoid a repetition, and his determination is as steely as the strength that led him to appoint AN when we were all clamouring for an experienced head.
McNally must have considered quitting after the relegation of 2013-14. I’m delighted and relieved he didn’t. We should feel much better with him in our corner.
The draw for the third round of the FA Cup, Boxing Day, the publication of next season’s fixtures – magic moments of the football season. I know some will argue against that – reminding us that we play each opponent twice etc – but for me it’s a spine-tingling day.
If you’ve been relegated or promoted, this is the day it really sinks in. Away to Rotherham, or home to Arsenal? Home to Palace will do.
The real geeks will analyse the fixtures in detail for potential advantage and disadvantage. Do we have weekend matches against teams who may have just played a Thursday Europa Cup game in Albania?
I’m not into that level of forensic detail, but of course we see patterns in the fixtures. City will have a tough last few weeks, if not quite on the scale of 2013-14’s ‘run-in of death’.
But hold on a moment. Look back to 2013-14 (if it’s not too painful) and see that Sunderland faced a similarly daunting finish in which they forged improbable wins at Chelsea and Man Utd, and escaped. Perhaps the ‘tough runs’ are slightly illusory.
Each of us will look for special fixtures. Some of those will be common – when do we play Chelsea, Man U and so on – while others will be personal.
Living on the edge of Watford, I’m looking for our visit to Vicarage Road (5 Dec), and I’d love to make first trips to Anfield and the Etihad (19 Sept and 31 Oct respectively).
Home to Villa on 28 Dec still looks tasty, even though you-know-who is no longer involved.
Another thought to bear in mind – happy in some ways, frustrating in others – is that many of our games this year will be moved from their Saturday 3pm schedule. We’re back in the big league.
Oh, another special day in the season is of course derby day. But Ipswich will have to wait a while for another one of those….