Thank God it’s over.
You only have to put up with my whining one more time.
I guess it was only fitting that five a half weeks of footballing torture should end with the biggest spanking of the lot. That we somehow ended up content that it was “only five” says everything about just how torturous it’s been.
Daniel Farke is understandably keen that once today’s debrief is done and dusted a line is drawn under the season, and from a players’ perspective that has to be the way. In an ideal world, there’d be a memory-zapper that could rid them of every memory of season 2019/20.
Come to think of it, that’d be pretty handy for the whole of the Canary Nation.
Name me a season that’s been more soul destroying.
Other than the obvious few highlights, it’s been excruciating and not all of it down to City’s poor performances and even poorer results.
The spectre of VAR has never gone away, forever hovering, awaiting its chance to rip away those moments of spontaneity and joy that are the very reason we love football so much.
And, of course, being Norwich City it’s screwed us over. Royally.
Somewhere out there is a table that shows teams’ net positions in terms of how they’ve benefited/been-shafted by VAR. I don’t even need to look at it to know City have suffered more than most as a result.
Teemu Pukki’s offside ‘goal’ at home against Tottenham was it at its peak, but there were plenty of others examples. That we came out on the wrong side more than most was as inevitable as Jamie Carragher doing co-comms on Liverpool games.
When it was first introduced, we naively thought it was a tool that would help iron out some of the perceived ‘big team bias’. But far from it.
Instead it’s just killed the game.
And this is not a direct dig at VAR because it ruled out Onel Hernandez’s early strike yesterday, however hard that was to take. If we must use VAR then that, I guess, was an example of it working properly.
That Man City then went down the other end and went 1-0 up courtesy of some Keystone Cops defending was about as Norwich City as you can get.
So, I’ll not miss VAR one bit.
Nor will I miss the general perception, mainly by national journos and broadcasters, of Norwich City being nothing but a blo0dy irritant. An afterthought. Something that warrants only lip service. “Little Norwich” seeping from every platitude.
They don’t like us. They don’t want us. We don’t fit the model.
And you can bet your bottom dollar there weren’t too many tears shed in Premier League HQ when it was Watford and Bournemouth, rather than Aston Villa, who joined us.
It’s an analogy I overuse, but us being unwelcome guests at a posh party is the best I can come up with.
I’ll not miss that feeling.
But we’ve not helped ourselves either. In far too many ways we’ve fed the little Norwich narrative. We’ve acted like little Norwich. We’ve played like little Norwich. Our whole approach to this season has screamed Little Norwich.
I’ll not go over again, but if the owners genuinely believed the paltry sum Stuart Webber was asked to work with would make us Premier League ready they were very much mistaken. For me, they need to examine their own role in this rotten demise just as much as the management and players.
(I’ll ssshh before I get told off).
But, while Webber’s ignore-the-noise mantra was very wise as it’s transpired, it’d be unwise to ignore the wider perception that the club did very little to try and stay in the Premier League. Slaven Bilic’s damning aside when being asked of his close-season plans for West Brom is, I’m sure, reflective of the view from the outside.
And while it’s not strictly true, given the work that has gone on to future-proof the club, there is a case to argue that the long-term plan is being executed at the expense of the here and now.
Just because Premier League opportunities have been relatively plentiful over the last decade, there is nothing to suggest these are a given. Ask Leeds. Ask Ipswich. Ask Forest. Ask Wednesday.
Those clubs, of course, don’t have a Webber overseeing their footballing operations, but the magic dust he sprinkled over the 208/19 promotion campaign is not a never-ending supply. I just hoped he’s saved some for the 47 days he now has to get this bowed and beaten squad ready for another Championship campaign.
Some news faces will help freshen things up, but let’s not underestimate the effect this bruising campaign will have had on those who will still be around to try and repeat said feat of 2018/19.
It’ll take more than a few days in the sun to re-instil confidence and belief in a squad that has been through the ringer so may times it’s now become a mere shell of its former self.
But, at least this is not a venture into the unknown, as the Premier League was for all but Tim Krul, Alex Tettey, Sam Byram and Timm Klose. The Championship is our terra firma and so at least those with their hands on the helm know what awaits.
That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.
And if we do get another crack at the PL – that place I’ve spent most of this piece deriding – then perhaps those at the very top will remember this feeling of being broken, empty, and bewildered.
To ignore it would be a huge mistake because exactly the same thing will happen again.
I’ll no doubt be reminded that this club’s natural place in the pecking order is betwixt 15th and 30th in the national league table and so we should be grateful with what we have – and I get it – but I’m greedy. I’d like to spend more than one season in the Premier League.
Why not aspire to be a Wolves? Or a Leicester? Or are we just happy to be little ol’ yo-yoing Norwich City?
I know which one Webber wants. I suspect I also know which one our owners prefer.
Maybe that was part of the problem.
This is probably a good time to dish out a few thanks yous…
To those of you who take the time to read MyFootballWriter – never taken for granted, always appreciated. Without you, we don’t exist.
To those who comment and interact – thank you very much. Without you, it’s a one-way tirade (especially in my case). With you, it’s a two-way conversation, just as Rick imagined it. You make MFW what it is.
To those who help fund us through Patreon – again, the biggest of thank yous. Without you, we likely slide into the abyss.
To the team – without you, it’s just me waffling on and boring everyone rigid. With you, it’s a broad spectrum of differing views – just the way we like it.
And to Rick and Stuart – cheers lads. Rick for his original idea and unswerving support, and Stu for keeping us on the straight and narrow.
We’ll be here, as ever, through the close season and, of course, for season 2020/21 with, hopefully, a new look.