It’s back! With no major international tournaments to keep us occupied in the interim, the past few months have been barren of football. Painful. The new season has kicked off and I’m now officially happier than…
- Donald Trump using the words “fire and fury” to threaten a nation
- Jeff Bezos looking at his tax bill
- Early investors in Bitcoin
- Arsene Wenger
A point against Fulham was a welcome start to our campaign. I spent the week following the game arguing with the token Leeds fan at work over whose result was better – and despite Leeds picking up all three points at Bolton (they won 3-2), the circumstances of both games still pointed to Norwich’s result as the better of the two.
Fulham are a team that, in my opinion, will fighting for promotion come next May. They may have lost the services of a once-Canary in Chris Martin, however Aluko and Ayite have more than enough threat to cause any team in the division problems. Bolton on the other hand are a team who I tip as mid to lower half of the table, possible strugglers and not a team who should threaten any promotion hopeful.
The Nelson Oliveira celebration was of course the most talked about moment from the Fulham game; from a fan’s perspective, it’s the underlying passion that you want to see, just channelled in the right way. After scoring the equaliser he obviously felt he had proved his point that he should have been on the pitch but the bottom line is Daniel Farke is the head coach and he will have had a game plan in mind that every player needs to work with.
Missing out on the play-offs last season was a big disappointment and nothing was worse than the last few games where City had nothing but pride to play for. The past few seasons have always left us with nail-biting finishes, whether it’s for promotion or relegation, so it was a big wake up call to be faced with mid-table mediocrity.
No one wants to be a club that goes nowhere, no growth, nothing to play for, no chance of going anywhere – and I’m going to point to Ipswich and their 15 consecutive years in the Championship to underline that point.
Those last few games really got me thinking about what I want out of this season and it’s one where I feel the Championship now offers a bit of a conundrum for teams like Norwich. The goal of every match is to go out and earn three points, with the end goal of finishing top of the league, or anywhere in the top six where there is a chance for promotion.
Promotion takes you to the Premier League where, if you’re a team like Norwich, you are likely in for a season of struggle, heavy defeats, the odd scraped victory or draw and the once-in-a-season upset of a big team.
Is that what we want?
The Championship arguably offers more excitement; a league where Norwich are bigger fish in a mid-sized pond; more games, more mid-week games, more goals… the list goes on. What does it say for our ambition though if we never want promotion? It’s indeed a conundrum…
The Premier League is becoming bigger with each and every season that passes. The market valuation of the top players is outrageous, but the marketability of players has turned them into money-generating machines for clubs who are becoming ever thirstier for cash to churn through their roster of players.
Similar to what we saw with the Danny Rose situation, there seems to be a culture in the business of football where the majority of players don’t care about clubs and the majority of clubs don’t care about their players. But there is one common denominator that keeps them both happy: money.
The likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham are becoming so riddled with cash that sooner or later one of them will be able to finance a deal like we have just seen with PSG and Neymar. How can a team like Norwich begin to compete in that division?
It’s simple, they can’t.
If Norwich were to get promoted this season, the rewards of promotion would be huge as the TV money pot gets larger and larger but this ‘£100 million game’ narrative the media uses to promote the playoff final is plain nonsense.
Winning the playoffs does not immediately put you in the position to finance massive deals for players and nor does it give you the resource to transform a Championship squad into a Premier League outfit in a single window. The reality is that the Premier League is moving further and further away from the rest of the football ladder and for clubs like Norwich the Championship is a better place to be right now.
The Sunday Update
The Farke revolution has hit its first stumbling block. An excellent fifteen minutes offered fans a glimpse of what’s to come when the new style of play finally gels and the goals follow our promising build up play.
My take on the game was that a simple defensive error which cost the first goal gave Sunderland the opportunity to focus purely on keeping their shape and get eleven players behind the ball, counter-attacking when they had the chance.
Had we been more clinical in that first spell, the result could quite easily have turned on its head but that’s the nature of football and another reason why a solid defence is crucial at the top level. Norwich will be counting on Christoph Zimmerman and Marcel Franke to get used to English football fast to stand a good chance of reaching the top six.
If we stay long term in the Championship with no parachute payments we will soon be utterly skint and facing debt problems. Do you want us to be in position of having to sell our best young players every summer to cover costs? Its no conundrum for me – the Premier League is the only place to be.
Andy Delf says
The only purpose of the premier league to clubs like Norwich is to provide a top up of funding every so often. We have no chance of ever being competitive at that level and truth be told neither do fifteen of the twenty clubs currently in the premiership. The sooner a breakaway European league happens the better. Good riddance to the champagne guzzling rich clubs, the spoilt brat footballers and sycophantic pundits that currently grab 95% of all the money in football in this country.
Far better to be in the championship where football is still competitive and on a more even footing for all participants.
“for clubs like Norwich the Championship is a better place to be right now”
Can’t agree with that at all. It’s not the size of your spending that counts, as our upcoming opponents will testify. It’s the recruitment of the right players for your system. Leicester proved this a little over a year ago and they won it outright.
Norwich have always had far better success by recruiting from the lower divisions. Players with a hunger to succeed and to prove people wrong. Correct me if I’m wrong but I would say the last successful high profile player we had was either Ashton or Earnshaw.
The Premier League is the place to be, followed by European football. Otherwise, what’s the point.
Gary Field says
I want Norwich to be the best they can possibly be and, with the self-funding model, sadly, that’s not going to happen without Premier League cash.
Nick. N. says
However unpalatable, I (sadly) agree totally with the comments from Andy Delf. Indeed, I have had that mindset for quite a while, it’s simply not a level playing field anymore. The Leicester success was a phenomenom, sport throws up these results from time to time, it shouldn’t happen, but it does? A perfect example was the F.A. Cup in 1958/59, when a Third Division team reached the semi-final, putting top First division teams to the sword alon the way. Later, in 1961/62 a certain ‘other team’ (cough!) also defied convention – common sense? It was not the norm then, it’s not the norm now – very much less so! Sure, as any fan I want success – promotion, but the season after in this present climate . . . envariably comes pain. It will come . . . even if delayed by a season or two? Sadly, £££’s has become a cancer to our once great game. Is a breakaway Europe League, for the top (and infinitely wealthier) clubs the way forward? I don’t know? I only know the fat cats are getting fatter, and the leaner ones are growing skinnier by the season – the grass roots are starving, that’s for certain sure!!!
David Bowers says
If we stay in the CL long term we’ll eventually go bankrupt, or end up in Div 1, or both.
Nick. N. says
This seemingly upward curve of the football elite’s finances, has I am sure a finite life. The bubble will burst eventually! When it does, expect carnage – a financial crash! It’s happened in banking (more than once?) it can and will in football.. A domino effect.
Look at the near empty gounds you see on television, getting worse by the season. Once well known clubs will increasingly fall by the wayside (Orient yet another casualty?) Think of how many clubs inhabited the old Division 1, season after season (winning trophies too) many are in near obscurity. Blackburn, Leeds, Notts Forest . . . Portsmouth even? There are also many fine clubs with a decent history, no longer in the Football League. The ‘feeder clubs’ are on the wane, worsening by the season.
In a nutshell . . . what are the dominant, all-powerful lions gonna do, when the zebra, wildebeest and antelopes disappear?
Failure to feed your soil, will slowly lessen your crop . . . eventually?
Hey, what do I know- I’m only a kid of 69.
General Melchett says
The life of a football fan! Can we really be happy with any situation? I think where we are and have been over the last few seasons has been pretty good. OK so relegation always hurts, but promotion preceding it makes up for it and then some. Are highs and lows like we’ve recently experienced really worse than spending a decade or more in disappointment of no promotion and maybe the odd playoff loss? because that’s what you’re asking for if you don’t want or like the PL. Ask a town fan how not going to the PL feels!
Can we compete at the top of the PL? In all probabability never, Could we with a series of good decisions and whilst better run (Hopefully Webber is bringing this!) stabalise to be in the same bracket as a Stoke, WBA or Swansea? I think so, We were not so far from it, had we bought more wisely on our more recent visits to the PL we could have stayed and built a relatively exciting squad of quality players that were odds on to stay up. If Burnley can do it why not us? Should we not aim high? Lets try to be mediocre in the PL, rather than settle for mediocre in the Championship.
As for breakaway european leagues, I hope it never happens, mainly because it would devalue the PL and EFL, I just hope that at some point the bubble will burst or at the very least FFP will actually be enforced in some meaningful way. The Pl is still a better and more entertaining league than anywhere else in the world, the bottom clubs are still able to beat the top clubs from time to time and we should want to be a part of that.