We don’t require a statistician to tell us our chances of achieving automatic promotion are slim. While, on the face of it, there are still 54 points to play for, the gap between ourselves and Sheffield United is 15 [fifteen] points.
So, basically, we need a minimum of five matchdays where City win and the Blades lose, and that’s before we consider those other pesky teams around us who will also be doing the same calculations and aiming to achieve the same goal.
Not happening is it.
Of more concern to an old worrier like me is us even making it into the playoffs. For, while the mood music has changed almost beyond recognition since Dean Smith made way for David Wagner, there is still a massive task ahead.
To put it into some perspective, so tight is the Championship table, the difference between City’s gap to the automatic places and the gap between them and 24th is just two points. Fifteen between us and the Blades; 17 between us and bottom-of-the-table, Wigan.
See what I mean?
So don’t let anyone tell you that it wasn’t damaging to retain the services of Dean Smith and the Bard beyond the World Cup break.
It wasn’t firing from the hip to suggest that rather than toddle off to Florida en masse, it would have been time better served to relieve them of their duties and go for a full reset there and then.
And let’s not use the hindsight argument. Only the ultra-loyal were supportive of giving Smith more time after that dispiriting home defeat by Middlesbrough.
That should have been trigger time. That it wasn’t potentially cost us 11 points.
While David Wagner still believes that promotion is within our grasp – I’d not expect him to say anything else – he knows all too well that if it’s to be achieved, it will be via the playoffs. Or, to give it its formal title, the lottery of the playoffs.
So, while I couldn’t be happier over how things have begun under the auspices of Wagner (and looking back rather than forward is largely a futile exercise), there’s no escaping the what-could-have-been if things had been better managed.
And, again amid the background of us all being ecstatic at how things have evolved over the last three weeks, our club still teeters on the brink of a financial squeeze. Some would call it a meltdown.
It needs not an accountant to spell out the risks of drawing down two seasons’ worth of parachute payments in the form of a one-off £66 million loan and then having another season of Championship football to show for it.
That fear hasn’t suddenly disappeared just because Wagner has overseen two walloping and glorious four-goal victories.
It remains very much a thing.
Because while none of us particularly wants to return to the Premier League as it’s so invariably grim when you’re a Norwich City supporter, the importance of doing so from a financial perspective is absolute.
If we do miss out – and the ‘lottery’ part of it means that’s a distinct possibility even if we do make the playoffs – then we’re back in the realms of having no pot to pee in. Unless, of course, the Attanasios make their move.
Then it becomes interesting.
But with Delia and Michael still holding the reins, I remain concerned for our club’s direction.
Sixty-six million pounds feels like a big old chunk to draw down when you’re still operating under a self-imposed regime of austerity, and still appear to be scrimping and saving.
The reluctance to spend anything in this transfer window while the teams around us re-energise their squads doesn’t feel great, especially when two players have already departed and are likely to be joined by a third. Add into that same mix the return of Aaron Ramsey to Villa and the season-ending knife under which Issac Hayden has recently gone.
For none of them to be replaced suggests the squad was bloated and unwieldy in the first place, which I’m not sure was the case. Either way, it’s not as if it’s a squad that doesn’t have room for improvement.
While we’re acutely aware of what Stuart Webber thinks of the January transfer window, to pass up a chance to improve it when we’re supposed to be gearing up for a promotion charge seems a little odd.
But, there’s still time. Maybe an unlikely rabbit will be pulled from the Webber hat.
So, what am I trying to say?
Not sure really, other than that despite all of the obvious positives that have accompanied the arrival of David Wagner, all is not rosy. The problems that were prevalent three weeks ago and which didn’t pertain directly to Smith and Shakespeare have gone nowhere.
For those able to forget all of the above off the back of a couple of very good performances, I salute you. Fair play. But the curmudgeons among us will still have, niggling away at the back of our minds, a fear of what lies ahead if we don’t make top six and then triumph in the playoffs.
The Club’s non-football-related issues haven’t been erased by the ecstasy brought about by two wins. The same behind-the-scenes characters who were at the core of an unhealthy working culture are still in situ and still pulling the strings. So too those who perceive the City fanbase as ‘needy’ and a pain in the posterior.
We have to just hope that the Wagner-lution, as I’ve seen it described, doesn’t begin and end with improvements on the grass.
Then everyone wins.
As long as the Wagnerian shift has a greater effect than the Webberlution over the next three months we should, could be ok just.
With leaks on transfers being common the departures of Cantwell and Hugill the fees for these 2 are about the same as the wages saved until the end of contracts. With Cantwell being openly discussed as a £20m + player after the first Farke premiership season that’s quite a value reduction in an assett. On Webber’s watch ,another one proving don’t keep a player who wants to go.
martin penney says
* Looking back rather than forward is largely a futile exercise*.
I’m not so sure about that. If ever a football club should look to its past it is Norwich City because there is so much there to be learned.
Delia and the Webbers are fully capable of coming up with original faux pas, but several have been repeated enough to be taken on board by now and filed under *do not repeat*.
Poor recruitment and pig-headedness concerning outside investment and gambling/borrowing £66 million against an extremely uncertain future are just a brace,
Chuck in a disconnect with supporters and the local media as well, why don’t you. Small overtures have been made to the fans [and large ones by the seemingly admirable David Wagner and his re-enthused squad] but this media stand-off is now more that past the hissy ft stage and it seems to be deeply embedded.
You speak for so many of us when you say the root of the problem hasn’t gone away.
Maybe we’ll get some further info after tonight’s General Meeting.
Or maybe not.
Alex Bain says
The BBC are saying that Hugill went on a free to release wages for possible incoming if that’s true another £2.5m down the drain and Webber seems very good at washing other people’s money into the Yare.
So the EDP’s announcement of a shares issue can we take this as a move from over the pond to alleviate our finances but with no real substance to the story are the local media hanging back trying to mend fences due to a major shift in power and want to be seen as good ole boy’s
Only time will tell Onwards and upwards
When the Bean Counters shout cut the only reply is how deep, and I bet it won‘t just be the players that get cut back. Crap mismanagement has lead the club to this situation but those at the top of the pile will not accept responsibility and will cling on whilst others are put to the sword, which doesn‘t bode well for the future. But there‘s to be a share issue to help fill the black hole and maybe our new coach will guide us to the promised land and so all will be well.
For me, the big (obvious) difference between now and a month ago, is we can now bang a few in.
A few goals will entertain (and I was entertained), but also hide the multitude of sins still apparent in our squad. If the goals dry up, we’re in a pickle.
For me, the key element of this whole debacle to remember is, Webber didn’t make the decision to relieve Smith, we did. He thought Smith was going to take us up. SMH.
Wow! Total doom and gloom from the same correspondents. Same stuff repeated over and over. What realistically have Cantwell and Hughill given the club in the last couple of years? Is it also not the case that their contracts were virtually up, ticking down to no fee transfer? Get whatever we can and take the benefit of the wage savings asap. Let’s not make this interesting well run forum a moaners only space!
Gary Gowers says
Fair comment, Mitz. 😀 And noted.
“Total doom and gloom from the same correspondents”
“Get whatever we can and take the benefit of the wage savings asap”
Aren’t these two contradictory? We took Hugill and turned a 2.5M investment into a free transfer. We took Cantwell from a player who could potentially have gone for 20M+, and received a tiny fraction of that.
The bar has been set so low that saving on wages is seen as a win?
Agreed, but sadly a lot of blame for the decline must fall on Cantwell too. Hugill always seemed a great member of the squad, sorry to see him go in a way. Would be lovely to see a couple of fresh faces coming in this window.
Tim Ball says
You share my fears Gary, Return to the EPL and all that bestows on us or miss out and have another season in the championship brassic.
This is the conundrum we find ourselves in. And the bitter truth is that it doesn’t matter how good a coach David Wagner is i’m afraid that old quote “A man is only as good as his tools” has been proven twice now regarding our EPL efforts.
The trouble is they weren’t just bad they were catastrophic. Burning into the heart of us all.
Apologies to the players for that rather harsh word. But both Farke (twice) and Smith could not even get us to a respectable points total let alone survive for even one season.
And that is frankly embarrassing. Even Bournemouth have 17 points at the moment, in January.
I am afraid either way this goes Gary we will need help from our American friends and that is a fact.
I know I bore myself with saying this again, but doing the same thing time and time again and expecting a different outcome is a sign of insanity.
Roger Cole says
Assuming the share allotment is for Attanasio to increase his shareholding AND inject that money into the club hopefully it will be used to pay down that ridiculous £66n loan, so parachute payments can be put to use and don’t just service the loan. On the manager front, I totally agree the writing was on the wall with the Boro loss. Previously I have said the only payback from that ‘jolly’ to Tampa was the injury to Ramsey and loan terminating by Villa. Actually it turns out that it was a good thing as it has allowed other players the chance to step forward. Likewise the Hayden sad situation – although if we are still expected to pay his wage something needs to be asked. He came injured and the injury has returned, surely a clause was put in the contract to guard against that and to save us paying? No I thought not, do we Nai learn? (I omitted the Smith, too many of them have darkened our doorstep!)
Alex Bain says
The big problem could be a future transfer fee if we got promoted this season it’s a buy clause with no get out like the loan, why would you knowing there’s a £66m Blackhole
facing the club sign a player that’s had 2 years with a serious knee injury then compound that with a promotion clause even if he hadn’t played a game it smells worse than footballers sweaty socks
Roger Cole says
I agree that Hayden loan/option to buy/locked in contract smells big time!
“Ultra loyal” Gary? That’s one way of putting it.
Mic corbs says
Odd position, guessing we will play Wba in playoffs, but don’t want to, actually for first time in my life don’t want us to go up; but want us to play well. I’ll keep on the booze. One positive is D and M at the Healy, for now.
The future as it stands does not look good,no Emi’s to sell for £35m,and Webber is starting to sell off some youngsters to plug the black hole,not looking promising imo.
David C. says
I wrote a reply to your article of the 15th of this month along the same lines as your piece today Gary, that although the on-field changes seemed to be working to the good that the off-field problems are still very much there I.E the Webber’s , so I very much concur with all you have to say, it is worrying and everybody should not forget who brought about the demise of the Smith regime, it was the”fan power” and as I’ve written before it will only be the fans who can rid us of those in power at Carrow Rd, the fans got rid of Chase, and, – unless our friend from over the pond makes his move, – it will only be the fans who can achieve the same result again.