Positive James: I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.
Negative James: Well I’m fuming! The results have been horrendous.
PJ: Although in a way, this was probably to be expected due to the approach the club has taken to play possession-based, open, technical football in a league full of players that can do it better than us.
NJ: Okay, it’s NOT the results – it’s the performances that have wound me up.
PJ: But thinking about it, this is a relatively young team and its certainly inexperienced at this level – you can’t expect top performances every week – there’ll be mistakes.
NJ: Ah, face facts – given expectations, simply getting to the Premier League was success for a club like Norwich City – it was too much to ask to survive.
PJ: We go up, we go down – it’s what we do – at least it’s not boring!
NJ: When are the club launching a yo-yo with our crest on it anyway? Although, I’m just perusing the table again; Sheffield United came up with us and they are competing for the top six! Why couldn’t we do that? I’m so jealous!
We’ve wasted this season! [bangs head against desk]. We have missed a golden opprtunity to stay up and become established.
PJ: But then look at the training complex now – you can’t say that’s been a waste of time and money?
And nobody can dispute our chronic injury list played a huge part in our demotion. Damn unlucky to get so many knocks to defensive players at the same time.
NJ: But then, why didn’t we bring in more reinforcements? Klose was injured and out for the season before a ball had even been kicked. Hanley has always had fitness issues.
PJ: True, but we can’t spend willy-nilly on players for every position – we’re paupers at this level and we tried to do the impossible on a shoe-string budget.
NJ: Although once up, surely we should have spent a bit more? Not Villa-style wads, but £5million here, £8million there. That’d have made all the difference. I’m very annoyed by that.
PJ: But then we could have spent those sums on the loan players we brought in and then we’d have financial issues while trying to shift them. By not spending too much it means we’ve got a more secure future for the club and wriggle room at a lower level to afford players that could get us straight back up again, so we’ve got to be pleased about that, right?
NJ: Anyway, I don’t care about going down because I hate the Premier League. I hate VAR. I hate all the money involved, the tv kick off times, the patronising pundits, the inane cookery puns…
PJ: But we’ve beaten two of the top four teams this season, so we’ve shown that we can beat the big boys! And I want what is best for my club and that is to be in the top flight.
But the journey to the top of the Championship is more fun anyway…
Round and round and I go; up and down the club go. We should be sponsored by confused.com
I don’t know which league we’re in half the time. I’m confused. I think most fans are. It wasn’t meant to be like this, not this time. I don’t really know how to feel about our latest (record-breakers – yay – where’s Roy Castle?) relegation.
So where did it all go wrong? Did it all go wrong?
I don’t know the answers to either question – we might not really know until the end of next season – but from a very early stage it has felt like we were not only competing against some very good sides, but also with ourselves.
Most fingers will point at the recruitment which has undoubtedly not been up to scratch. The mitigating factor being that at least we didn’t purchase most of those players.
On paper, I thought our recruitment in the summer looked fine – astute even. You just never know how these things will pan out. Ralf Fahrmann, a reliable, experienced keeper to push Krul hard. I think that sort of worked as Krul has been outstanding.
Sam Byram came in as back up and did really well, but his injury issues are stacking up. Ibrahim Amadou ‘almost’ cost us £10million – he looked the bees knees against Manchester City. He looked like a wonkey donkey in the other games, albeit he never got the chance to play his natural role.
Patrick Roberts came in… and then left having done diddly. A talented kid – another on the conveyor belt of youngsters who we tried to give a second chance, to invigorate their stalling career. Those kind of deals won’t always work – this one didn’t.
Josip Drmic has spent longer on the injury table and even longer in the recording studio than on the pitch. His wages will be fun to try and shift this summer. Good luck Stuart.
Lukas Rupp came in the winter window – he’s okay – not going to pull up any trees, a utility player if you like. He’s not Premier League quality but he should be fine in the league below.
The most frustrating one is Ondrej Duda. Having seen him play in Germany, I can say with total belief that he’s a fine footballer. For whatever reason, since arriving here he’s looked like a fish up a tree.
He would have cost £15million to buy. Just goes to show, spending money isn’t going to guarantee you anything other than a large hole in your finances that will eventually need plugging.
On the pitch, elements of our play were great to begin with, though some were concerning. The way we swatted Newcastle aside was sensational. That game was proving me right!
My theory over the summer had been that we would be technically superior to about six to seven teams in this league, and that if that quality ever hit a wall we would be able to dig deep like last season – and that would be enough to ensure safety with something to spare.
Unfortunately, the positive elements began to dissipate whilst the negative ones became more alarming with every passing fixture. The confidence had evaporated; the zip in our game had been, well… unzipped. And most frustrating of all, the mental strength that we showed in abundance last year was non-existent this term. Not one point from a losing position. NOT ONE POINT!
The Crawley cup game should have beena major warning sign – lots of new signings and fringe players having a torrid time. From that moment on, it felt like that group of players weren’t trusted.
I think with the benefit of hindsight, we’ve been cannon fodder all season really but the (non) performances since lockdown have infuriated me, and as a result, I think Daniel Farke should come under serious pressure. Any boss should expect to face scrutiny after eight defeats in a row – a run that could easily extend to 11 given our fixtures next week.
Do we stick or twist with the gentle German? The jury is out for me. I don’t think I’d mind either way right now. This is going to be our worst ever top flight season. In fact, I believe it’ll rank as our worst season ever statistically. That’s not something that should just be ignored – it needs to be criticised.
The considerable credit Farke built up in our title-winning season hasn’t been completely wiped out – but it wouldn’t take much more to send the bailiffs round.
We need to look at the bigger picture. We have a boss in charge who has a promotion under his belt, but is he damaged goods? Are the players with him? The Championship is pretty forgiving in the early weeks – you can start badly and still go up (as we’ve proven), but how bad a start could he get away with?
I don’t want us chopping and changing in October for example.
He doesn’t seem to have learnt anything this season, which is a great worry. His body language even more so. We’ve been so easy to play against – that is his responsibility. It’s been style over substance this year. You can have both – we proved that in 2019-20.
It’s our players’ mannerisms on the pitch that grates me the most – we’ve been lacking character and fight. Since lockdown its been gutless stuff. And I know its hard in an empty stadium but they’ve got to show more than they have.
I can accept a lack of quality and even some naivity but I can’t accept a lack of fight. Where’s the anger when a goal is conceded? Where’s the intensity to make runs and tackles? Why can’t they concentrate at set pieces?
And given the structure of the club, Farke must know he’s very disposable – there will be plenty of coaches on the continent with their dander up who would jump at the role right now.
So what does next season look like? And will our recruitment be better? Will we try to play differently?
Well in answer to the final question, no, not particularly. Our blueprint is set, regardless of who is in charge. It’s the club ethos – there may be subtle changes but no rejection of the style. Good news.
Our activity in the market has already begun but it will certainly need to improve greatly. However, its definitely easier to find bargains that will be key personnel in the Championship than it is in the Premier League. I want to see a complete overhaul of the midfield and we definitely need to bring in a leader at the back.
On paper, the Championship could appear considerably weaker. Barring their traditional collapse, Leeds and Bielsa in particular will be a decent addition to the top flight. West Brom have a very good manager and are always strong performers – so I’d like to see the back of them.
Brentford are steam rollering everyone in sight. Aside from those three, who stands out? The likes of Derby and Sheffield Wednesday both face potential penalties over finances.
Stoke, Middlesbrough and Hull (if they all survive) are all losing their parachute payments next season. Huddersfield look a spent force. Wigan could be docked points if they stay up.
The two teams likely to join us from above are Bournemouth and Aston Villa – again, both clubs will be in financial jeopardy.
Coming up from League One we have Rotherham, who I’m beginning to think should be twinned with Norwich, under the tutelage of City fanatic Paul Warne, and Coventry, under the tutelage of former Canary star striker Mark Robins.
Then of course there’s the club down the road with our former double-promotion inspiring manager – they will be stronger for having had a spell down in League what…? 11th? Seriously? Jesus Christ [laughs until wee comes out].
Okay, so no Ipswich, no Sunderland, and no Portsmouth – but one of Wycombe or Oxford. Coronavirus is going to be hitting all these clubs fricking hard in the plums too so you’ve got to say that we will be very strong players next season.
We drop back down with a heavy thud. Next season will roll around quicker than ever before, so at least we can get this sorry season put to bed without too many nightmares. But we’ll always have that Man City game. What a night that was!
And we’ll be back in the Premier League…
Don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.
Keep smiling through, just like you always do, till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.