The fierce defence of Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones by their supporters when the question of ownership is raised is quite something. Admirable in many ways.
For those of us who have asked the question, it can be a bruising experience. Despite believing it’s a valid one, I invariably end up asking myself if it was worth raising in the first place.
And you find yourself getting called names for not just smiling and going along with it all.
“Sulky sob sobs”
And some I wouldn’t repeat. 🙂
But that’s fine. There are also those who are happy to debate the issue in a civilised manner.
So I’ll keep raising the question.
And, for me, it invariably boils down to the question of what the current owners and their supporters want this football club to be.
Others even disagree with me on that.
I believe the current model (I even got told off for describing it as a ‘model’) is incompatible with putting together a squad capable of surviving beyond a single season in the Premier League, but many have argued that it isn’t the model (sorry) that has led to the latest disaster, but the very poor recruitment.
I invariably counter that with my belief that it’s the very limited transfer pot with which we have to work that makes recruitment so so tricky and off we go again in those ever-decreasing circles.
I do agree that even if you have, say, a net £100 million to spend, it still needs to be spent wisely to make you better but would argue that it does leave you more room for error and more scoop for having the odd disaster.
With City’s limited pot, there is a need for a greater percentage of those players brought in to make you better. And they haven’t.
While Emi Buendia was virtually impossible to replace, and to a lesser extent Ollie Skipp, we were told we would be bringing in other players who would contribute and fill the void in different ways.
Yet we’ve ended up with a right-sided attacking player who, with the best will in the world, is unfit to lace the Argentinian’s boots.
For all of Josh Sargent’s effort and desire, it’s impossible to describe the move as a success, but was it a failure of recruitment or a failure because we were trying to purchase someone who could score goals in the Premier League on a Lidl-sized budget?
And, of course, Sargent is far from alone in not delivering what we hoped for. None of them have, perhaps with the exception of Milot Rashica and – for a couple of games – Mathias Normann, and so those who apportion the blame to the recruitment team have a point.
Overall, the team that ended the 2020-21 season in the Championship was stronger and better balanced than the one we see now. I suspect it would still be in the 20th, but as a unit would be more cohesive and have more invention.
So, yeah… recruitment. Not good enough. No arguments there.
Neither did we end up with a squad that was quicker, faster and stronger. None of those boxes were ticked.
Another point raised during the week was around what constitutes success for Norwich City. Again, it means different things to different people. For me, it would constitute a proper fight to avoid Premier League relegation rather than the timid surrender with which we have become accustomed.
As things stand, even relegation but at least taking it to the wire would be a degree of success but we’re not even going to do that.
But in an ideal world, 17th place or better has to be the target. Those who can draw any form of triumph from what’s happening now, are better folk than I.
Yet, there is of course the Premier League factor.
Such is the behemoth it has become, for any team that isn’t regarded as one of the ‘big six’ it can be a desolate, miserable, inhumane place. And certainly, when you’re Norwich City it’s what’s now known as a hostile environment.
We don’t, in our current guise, enjoy being there and we’re certainly not made to feel remotely welcome.
Even Gary Neville, for whom I have a lot of respect, has joined the ranks who love punching down on the little guy – citing City as ‘by far the worst team in the league’ without ever acknowledging the wider reasoning behind our travails.
And so I get it when some argue that the Premier League is *not* the place to be. I agree it’s horrible and is full of people and clubs and owners of questionable ethics, morals and money. I’ve reached the point, later than some, where I dearly want the ‘big six’ to sod off to the European Super League they so crave.
Once there, they can play each other six, eight, ten, fifteen times a season if they want. Who cares.
But as things stand, if our football club wants to be the very best it can be, it means aiming to mix with the top 20 in the land. And in the spirit of top-level sport, or any sport for that matter, you have to aim for the stars and strain every sinew to be the best you can possibly be.
To drop back down into the Championship and accept that as our happy place and the place we call home wouldn’t feel right. Do we stop wanting the team to win? Or do we want them to win some games but not too many?
I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t sit comfortably with anybody either.
But here we are, marooned in footballing purgatory. Ill-equipped to even make a fight of finishing 19th in a division we don’t really want to be in while waiting in vain for football to reinvent itself so that our current model (sorry) will enable us to compete at the top level, albeit in a division free of the bad guys.
We could have a long wait.
Or, alternatively, in the shorter term, we could find ourselves back in the Championship with a squad that’s not particularly good and which organically drifts off into the mid-table, without ever troubling the top six.
For some, I think that would be okay. And fair play.
For me… I just don’t know anymore 🙂
The only thing I am sure of is that if we are a competitive Championship side next season, under our current guise the prize on offer is not a particularly palatable one.
Would anyone really look forward to a repeat of season 2021-22?