The Championship trophy is resting safely in Carrow Road’s glass trophy cabinet and the champagne corks have been cleared away after the extensive celebrations that culminated in a show in front of the masses at City Hall.
From Kenny McLean’s self-proclamation as the new mayor of Norwich to the range of sore heads on display, celebrations of that ilk are few and far between in football, yet they seem to escalate at a rate of knots.
In times, those scenes will be submerged into the archives of Norwich City, with last season becoming a tale of legend.
But for the club, the focus has shifted firmly to now devising the path to consolidate their hard-earned place at the highest level of English football.
Stuart Webber likened the next challenge to that of ascending Everest once more, all with the lowest budget in the division. But it’s a squad of players desperate to prove the traditionists wrong and a structure that has been meticulously constructed to oversee the transition into an era of consistency in the Premier League.
To date, the summer has been littered with new contracts for those who played major roles in the unexpected rise enjoyed by all last season.
Underpinning the club currently is ‘trust’. That belief in those title winners will retain the togetherness constructed last season while also providing a platform for those players to continue to perform.
Trust may well become the new buzzword.
Webber has built an off-pitch structure that relies upon communication, with inclusivity and trust that higher levels can be achieved without departing with obscene amounts of money. Togetherness is something woven intricately over time, the strength of it visible to everybody who watched City last season.
The last-minute goals, that relationship between the players, staff and supporters, it was based on the unity built inside the walls of Colney and then transported to inside Carrow Road. That same feeling will need to be re-established in a period where winning will be less frequent – that core unity will need to prove itself once again.
Norwich will concede goals and lose games in the Premier League.
In periods of successive defeats for, example, they will need to prove they possess the endurance and will to overcome them. Characters will need to be relied upon, with players encouraged to take risks without losing their spark of creativity.
Daniel Farke has displayed his ability as a coach, that method of allowing a player-centred training regime to get a tune out of players other coaches have written off and cast aside. For those perceived as damaged goods, the German and his staff nurture, educate and scrutinise. They have created an environment where standards are high but humility is low.
In victory, togetherness is intensified and happiness universal. In defeat, resolve is tested. Worth noting too is that both Webber and Farke have endured difficult periods of intense scrutiny but both managed to ignore the noise and advance their philosophy.
This may not always find favour with the football purists, but this culture change has allowed this club to compete and progress without experience or finance. The embedded processes facilitate education within the club and act as a vehicle for career progression and opportunity: a lower average age of player, more youth assets and a more strategic approach.
No longer are City a club who gamble and scramble to recruit.
They’ve transformed into a club who are happy to say ‘no’. Players don’t have a place here if they don’t possess the right attitude and the combination of talent and work rate results in the club being a power for good in players’ careers. The common sense that radiates out of Webber, Farke and Ben Kensell now drifts down the corridors of power.
No longer are egos tolerated, or players who consider themselves bigger than the club. This club is now the epitome of hard graft.
And the dizzying heights provided by the Premier League won’t change the fundamentals. The same behaviours will continue to be established, standards will be set, and trust will be placed in those who have earned it.
This is isn’t a club content with merely surviving but one that wants to progress. They won’t crumble under the pressure or resort to desperate methods.
Unwanted attention will naturally arrive, that’s inevitable. In our chat with City’s Head of Recruitment, Kieran Scott, he emphasised how the club’s playing philosophy hadn’t gone unnoticed by the clubs occupying the summit of the Premier League. They see Norwich as a place their young talent can be improved and nurtured.
And so, to Patrick Roberts – arrival number one from one of the big hitters.
A year in Girona proved difficult for the young Man City player. With his side relegated, he struggled to make the impact he desired after two positive years at Celtic. A dynamic winger, Roberts is keen to cut inside from his wide right position to utilise the space and create things from outside the area. He provides a different option from those City currently have on their books.
In Emi Buendia’s absence, the Canaries struggled but Roberts will be another option capable of playing between the lines and driving into spaces. Technically tidy but also someone who can provide and score goals. Teemu Pukki feeds on service and Roberts is capable of locating his subtle movements, providing the two can generate an understanding.
Given how City like to operate with two swashbuckling full-backs and, effectively, three number tens, Roberts can receive the ball on the half-turn and has a point to prove after a tough season.
Webber spoke about the club liking the fact Roberts struggled last season, and Farke’s ability to extract more than what’s on the surface makes this an astute signing.
Principally, City’s approach won’t alter.
New additions will arrive, each with individual stories but ultimately buying into the same dynamic which served us so well last year. A crack at the Premier League is an attractive proposition for any player, and with trust and the right tools, City can survive in the Premier League providing they don’t alter from their core values.
Naturally, their playing philosophy will become more adaptable, and on-field issues like playing out of possession and defensive phases need to improve, but that’s something those analysts, coaches and Farke himself will be aware of.
If we cast our minds back twelve months, City were struggling to score goals but they recruited accordingly with incredible success.
Enjoy the sunshine and then tackle the Premier League – we may have the smallest horse, but we possess the biggest heart.