It has been a ‘funny old’ season hasn’t it?
Disappointing for sure but not the terrible disaster that some seem determined to label it.
Joint top scorers in the league with 85 (most ever scored at home with 55) and yet only finished eighth and ten points off the last play-off place. We all know why – a defence leakier than one of Delia’s monogrammed sieves.
After nearly two years of writing regularly for this site, I called it a day after the 2-2 draw at Fulham back in October. It was time to hand over to someone new but I’ve continued to read the weekly installments, opinions and debate with interest and amusement.
As I handed in my last piece, a mini-biography of the new CEO from Wolves, the boys were riding high but already showing those defensive frailties that would continue to haunt for the rest of the season.
That second half at Craven Cottage – so often the graveyard of the Canaries’ dreams – turned out to be pivotal for both clubs’ fortunes over the months to come.
I never thought a top two finish was likely but top six was minimum requirement. Outside of that by New Year and a change of manager was my pre-season advice (for all of my vast practical experience).
For reasons of loyalty/finances/stubbornness – delete as appropriate – the board (with the likely exception of Mr. Moxey) decided to stick not twist until March. Fatal? Possibly.
We’ll never know if Gary Rowett (or AN Other) would have made the difference if the plug had been pulled earlier on Alex Neil’s time. There would have been no guarantees of glory especially as the top six/seven clubs never really hit the wall, except for Leeds in the last three or four weeks.
It turned out to be even more competitive a league than two years back. Very few I suspect would have predicted that Reading, Huddersfield and Fulham would be contesting for play-off glory at the end of the season.
Fulham’s haul of 80 points is the highest ever for a sixth place finish in the second tier. Norwich finished about six points short of the average number required although 70 would have been good enough back in 2012-13.
We had a record number of red cards with those first half ones at QPR and Rotherham and versus Blackburn especially costly in terms of points and morale. Whatever, the perceived quality of the opposition, if you’re playing an hour or more with a man down, nine times out of ten it’s not going to end well.
Somehow the Galway Roast stand sponsorship affair was a telling omen for events to come with indecision and poor decisions on and off the pitch putting the kibosh on the season. Instead of a last day celebration of promotion, we were left to console ourselves with a meaty win over QPR and a tearful goodbye to those players departing for good.
We had the chairman’s televised dance-floor efforts, Jez’s media faux pas and some pretty harsh criticism of the owners’ lack of ambition to ignore/enjoy/disparage (again, delete as you wish).
Practically no aspect of the club’s running or players’ efforts have escaped the harshest of spotlights this season and all because of the unrealised expectation levels (correct or otherwise) of an immediate bounce back to the big boys’ cash-littered playground.
It has been bruising with dark days but hell, I’ve enjoyed it! And still we’ve turned up home and away – rarely did home gates dip below 98 per cent capacity – remarkable and only bettered by the manic Geordies.
No one wants the club to be marooned Ipswich-like for decades outside of the Premier League, but all season ticket holders have had full-on value for money from the Carrow Road goal barrage and the quality of some of those goals (Jonny H’s wins it for me).
I didn’t miss the struggle of a Premier League relegation scrap which Boro and Hull fans have had to endure – remember how exultant they were at being back in the big time last summer? Beware Brighton and Newcastle fans and those of whichever club emerges victorious from the Wembley Play-off final.
Of course, the club is in a tighter financial spot than it would have been if promotion had been achieved. However, out of whatever wreckage there is, has emerged the dawn of a new club structure and team for next season.
We have some young talent to be hugely proud of and excited by, and some old warriors who continue to spill their sweat and skills in the cause of the yellow and green. With a wheeler-dealing Webber, the summer will not be dull.
Imagine facing yet another season with an uncaring, absent owner and a grizzled old manager in charge of your club’s destiny…