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.