And so it goes on…
You know it’s bad when you no longer get fired up or angry when City concede a goal. Even worse is when that final whistle goes to signal another defeat and it gets greeted with no more than a shrug.
But that my friends is where we are. Or at least where I am.
I expected nothing from our trip to the London Stadium and wasn’t disappointed. Standard Premier League fare for us.
West Ham, of course, are a good side with top-four aspirations, so it was always going to be a difficult evening, but the football supporter in us all was quietly hoping against hope that City could spring a surprise. They do happen after all.
But not to us. Not in the season 2021-22. In this campaign, Norwich City trades only in disappointment.
Even on an evening where the performance level was okay and there were a couple of good individual performances, Adam Idah in particular, we were still some way off being good enough to earn even a point.
That win over Southampton feels like a very long time ago.
And I’ve reached the point where I actually feel sorry for Dean Smith and Craig Shakespeare. It feels like they were sold a pup by Stuart Webber.
But I don’t blame Webber. It’s his job to make the big calls and it was his job to use all the tools at his disposal to persuade Smith and Shakey that there was a worthwhile project ongoing here and that this squad had enough about it to at least make it a relegation scrap.
While there is an argument that the former of those two selling points still holds – a step back does reveal an ongoing project – there is, by no stretch of the imagination, a squad here that’s about to claw its way to safety.
Yes, we’re only three points from safety but 17th-placed Watford have two games in hand on us, while 18th-placed Burney – who are about to have £25 million from the sale of Chris Wood burning a hole in their pocket – have played three games fewer than us.
It takes mental gymnastics of Derren Brown proportions to take something positive out of that, especially when you’re on a run of six straight defeats and managed to negotiate the whole of December without scoring a goal.
If anyone can offer me some comfort from those two stats, I’m all ears.
We’re done. Our race is run.
And all of the brickbats that continue to be fired in our direction from TalkSPORT and the like – Simon Jordan the latest to have his say (I’ll not post a link because it’s far too brutal and cutting for pre-watershed) – can no longer be contested. We are cr@.p, we are woeful, and we don’t appear worthy of a place in the Premier League.
The fight, I’m sorry to say, has been sucked out of us.
Yet, as hard as we try, we, the fans, can’t just switch off. Most of us are far too invested in this football club to do that, which is why looking too far ahead should also come with a health warning.
On the basis of us being a Championship club again next season, we’ll not be retaining the services of Mathias Normann or Ozan Kabak beyond May. One of those will be a big miss, the other not so much, but the point is there will be two gaps in the squad to fill.
We also have to accept that Max Aarons will finally leave us. Compared to others who have been in a similar position of being wanted, Max’s attitude has been exemplary. He has more than earned his move, although I do sense he has lost his edge as a result of playing in a poor team. Nevertheless, he is the last of the so-called family jewels and when he goes, what then?
Todd Cantwell I guess comes into that equation but his stock is tumbling with every sick note and while it seems clear he will depart in this window, it will be for a fraction of his estimated worth last summer. Quite frankly, the sooner he departs the better.
So what does that leave us with?
Well, with something that’s pretty unremarkable, to be honest. There’ll be no Emi Buendia replacement in that squad to help elevate us above the rest; nor will there be an Oliver Skipp clone to help make us more solid than the rest.
And that’s without considering those, like say Teemu Pukki and/or Tim Krul, who may wish to depart for one final crack at the big time.
With the best will in the world, what remains has the look of a bog-standard Championship outfit.
Perhaps those at the top would be happy with that.
Anyway, in the short-term, it’s Everton up next. The same Everton who have won only once away this season.