Here endeth the lesson… the one that says don’t believe it when someone tells you there’s still a mathematical chance of City scraping into the top six.
It was never going to happen because they were simply not good enough but while the maths (and Sky Sports) told us there was a chance we had to believe.
But not anymore.
That it ended in fury and acrimony was typical of season 2022-23 – a campaign beset by poor quality, fallouts, sackings, press bans, anger, and apathy.
Nothing good of a Norwich City hue has emerged from 2022-23. Absolutely zilch.
Nothing has worked. Most decisions have been the wrong ones. Morale is at its lowest ebb for a decade. And the club has decided it’s the fault of the fans.
Just to square that circle nicely, our early Saturday evening at the Hawthorns concluded with Andy Hughes (above) reprising his role of 2007, by clashing with City fans at the end of a game.
Sadly, Hughes clashing with fans – the official line is that he was attempting to appease them – isn’t the only similarity to 2007.
We still (at least for now) have the same owners who espouse ‘self-funding’, we have that same lack of direction and clarity, we have that same unsustainable level of debt, and we have fans who are concerned as to where this is all leading.
For the record, in 2007 it led us to Glenn Roeder and to League One.
In the here and now, and prior to the summer reset that we’ve been promised, no one would be surprised if, this time next season, we’re suffering another dose of the Roeders. A run of one win in ten, however you try and spin it, is the type of form that ultimately leads to third-tier football.
It’s impossible, therefore, to underplay the importance of said summer reset. Get it wrong and we risk returning to that place – the one that yesterday saw much whooping and hollering from those clad in blue and white.
We’ve looked down and poured scorn on them for most of the last decade but we meet next season as equals, albeit they are as one, have ambitious owners, and have momentum and belief of which we can only dream.
We’ve lapped it up. Now we must take it on the chin.
But it’s not about them, however much it irks. Now is about getting our own house in order. And for that to happen, we need the right people in place.
This is where it gets tricky. I’m not convinced we have the right people on any level.
I’m not sure we have the infrastructure to robustly challenge and overhaul the club. I’m not sure we have the personnel in place to robustly overhaul the infrastructure. I’m not even convinced anymore that we have the right head coach in place to oversee the compiling of a new squad.
Nothing is working at the moment from the top down.
Fellow MFW columnist, Stewart Lewis, put forward a calm and measured argument in the week around why Stuart Webber, on balance, is the right man to manage the process. He pointed out Webber’s success in compiling two, very different, Championship-winning sides.
And he was right. Both, in different ways, were a joy.
But I’d argue that the Webber of 2018 and 2020 was a different animal to the Webber of today. Then he had no beef with the supporters and the local press. Then he didn’t perceive the club’s fanbase as the enemy. Then he had drive, ideas, and purpose.
And back then, Webber – like us – hadn’t been badly battered and bruised by two of the most demoralising campaigns the Premier League has ever seen.
That David Wagner is intrinsically tied to Webber is potentially a problem in itself. They are trusted colleagues and clearly have each other’s back. And, rightly or wrongly, as Wagner hitches himself to the Webber and Hughes wagons, some of the credit he had in the bank disappears.
Those credits, borne of some successful cheerleading in the aftermath of some of those early wins, are now in short supply. And, let’s be honest, there are plenty of clubs out there who would be questioning the position of a head coach who, with a supposed squad of quality players, has won one in ten.
So, the biggest problem right now, is that a lot of fans have no faith whatsoever in those people who, it appears, will be placed in charge of the summer refresh. In fact, those same people, in the view of some, are the ones that need to be refreshed. Or replaced.
It’s, of course, not as easy as that. As has been the topic of several columns on this site, the structure of the club is such that there is zero accountability of those in power.
If Webber wants to stay – and it appears he does – he will. So will Wagner. And if the Attanasios continue to drag their heels, so too will Delia and Michael.
With the club now limited in the number of players we have of value, the summer fire sale will not be raising Emi Buendia levels of funding. So, saddled with debt, we’re back to wheeling, dealing, and gambling on players with injuries and/or something to prove.
Problems at every single turn.
What an absolute mess.