Yesterday, the ol’ interweb was not unsurprisingly jam-packed with chatter from Canary fans as our own glorious Championship play-off final was finally consigned to the history books.
In terms of it being a spectacle for the neutral, Hull and Sheffield Wednesday offered up something akin to last season but it wasn’t the quality, or otherwise, of the football that got the juices of the Canary Nation flowing… oh no.
Instead it was a main course of empty Wembley seats followed by a hearty helping of schadenfreude that helped pre-occupy the City faithful as we searched in vain for some comfort; something to take away the pain of the double-whammy of relegation and having our noses rubbed in it by 70,000 Yorkshire folk.
To see large swathes of red, unused seats for a Championship play-off final was certainly unusual – I even found myself feeling a tiny bit sorry for Steve Bruce and his men – but a combination of factors meant Hull’s half of Wembley did a more than passable impersonation of Portman Road.
The sums were ugly. They were able sell just 25,000 of their 40,000 allocation or, to put it another way, just 11,000 more than Lowestoft Town took to Wembley for the FA Vase final in 2008.
For Twitter it was a tap-in but for a city that also has two top level rugby league clubs, both of whom played yesterday and all of whom are in direct competition for their share of the city’s 256,000 population, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
Another factor worthy of note is that they have become almost Wembley regulars of late, something far removed from our own ‘first time in 30 years’ experience.
So, to describe them as ‘tinpot’ seems a bit harsh and at least they can’t be accused of attracting loads of glory-hunting, Johnny-come-latelys.
The aforementioned schadenfreude was naturally aimed at Sheffield Wednesday’s lumbering, disinterested-looking, chance-less lone striker, who was to pay big time for his ‘what a shame’ tweet; unleashed in the minutes following City’s relegation.
Some back-tracking has since occurred from the iPhone of Gary Hooper but we’re not daft – not all of the time.
Some fear that we’ll be made to pay when we play Wednesday next season, with a riled up Gazza sure to make us pay. I’m less convinced.
It’s nailed on he’ll score against us, I just think it would have happened regardless.
But, my overriding feeling yesterday afternoon?
Give youth a chance?
The rise and rise of Marcus Rashford and a goal inside three minutes of his England debut has re-ignited the ‘if they’re good enough, they’re old enough’ debate. It looks likely that Rashford will be heading to France, possibly at the expense of Daniel Sturridge and his legs made of cheese.
It prompted a rash (no pun intended) of comments about City’s talented youngsters and how Alex Neil must be bold in offering youth a chance, particularly minus the pressure of a Premier League relegation battle.
But beyond James Maddison – who by all accounts is ready for all the Championship is about to throw at him – it’s yet clear to me whether those who in terms of age are knocking at the door are actually good enough.
The Murphys have proved relatively successful in Leagues One and Two but neither were ready to cut it in the Champ last time round and it’s hard to see Carlton Morris’s spell at Hamilton Accies being sufficient to fast-track him into City’s forward line of one.
Perhaps Harry Toffolo, if Martin Olssom were to depart, would have a shout but on the face of it we’re not blessed with too many who are on the verge and with the Under-21s suffering the same fate as the first-team the progression from academy to first-team is something for the new chief executive to get his or her teeth into.
For me, the key word in the phrase is ‘if’, and right now I’m not convinced too many of ours are good enough… which is a shame.
Ever since Gareth Barry was shown a clean pair (and some) by Mesut Özil in Bloemfontein while plodding through quicksand, my interest in England has waned horribly; a far cry from my days of being a Wembley regular and in France for the ’98 World Cup.
A “golden generation” of charmless multi-millionaires who delivered precisely nothing did little to help but it was a disconnection that ran deeper than failure on the pitch.
Yet I’m actually looking forward to France ’16 and not just because Messrs Terry, Cole, Gerrard and Lampard are thankfully long gone.
The new crop do appear to have a little something about them and, even if the defending bears an alarming resemblance to what we’ve witnessed over the last nine months, there’s a hint of likeability that’s skipped a generation.
They’ll probably mess up and break our hearts in a penalty shoot-out style but by entering a tournament without the bells and whistles of old, the pain will be diluted.
And besides, for City fans there’s plenty to look forward to beyond England, not least Wes finally, and belatedly, getting his chance on the biggest stage. And I can’t wait for Lafferty to score and re-ignite the ‘why dunt Neil play ‘im?’ debate.
For once, it could be fun and will be a pleasant footballing diversion to what has been a fairly rotten 2016 for City fans.
Bring on the Lowestoft…
For those of us located on the wrong side of the border, news that City’s second friendly is to be at Crown Meadow, Lowestoft came as a pleasant surprise.
The Trawlerboys have recently suffered a relegation of their own – from the National League North back down to the Isthmian Premier Division – and so will be buoyed to get something close to a full house when the Canaries come to town.
They’re captained by ex-City youngster Rossi Jarvis and there will be a fair sprinkling of other former City Academy graduates in their line-up, so it should be interesting.
So, get the visas sorted, make sure the passports are up to date and gear yourselves up for a border crossing on the evening of July, 12.
The welcome will be warmer than it is in that small town and the ground will be full.