The curtain falls on the calendar year of 2023 with no standing ovation and one-star reviews from the Norwich critics.
The performers in yellow and green may as well have been booed off stage, following sparingly little drama but plenty of ironic comedy. A year that’s felt regrettable and forgettable. Pain is the key ‘elephant in the room’ phrase, so it’s time to stomach some paracetamol and go in search of some greener grass.
Football fans often coin the phrase of ‘not being able to write a script like this’ but if a fortune-teller were to come out with some of 2023’s nonsense, you’d recommend they stay off the beers. A West Country walloping, a dismal departure for Teemu and the Tractor Boys bouncing.
No one told us life was going to be this way (clap clap clap clap).
Now the time has come to put this year to bed. 2023 can’t hurt us anymore. What better way to tidy away the mess than to look ahead to an entirely new year full of potential optimism (or maybe just more gloom).
Based on what’s gone before us, let’s make some educated predictions for the next twelve months, whether they be turning corners or crumbling like the cliffs at Hemsby. This blog is definitely perfect bookmark fodder so feel free to save this and revisit it in January 2025.
I am, after all, the Norwich Nostradamus. So let’s go:
- WAGNER WILL NOT BE IN CHARGE BY THE END OF THE YEAR
At the time of writing, no P45 has been issued. For a coach who has cheated dismissal at every turn, this prediction is actually bold. If David could survive the drab deflation of Blackpool (H), the tactical ineptitude of Blackburn (H) and the capitulations against Leeds and Watford, it begs the question; what will be his downfall?
Like a modern Rasputin in a teal tracksuit, his position in the dugout remains unmoved. I’d be curious to know if he has ticked any boxes in his managerial objectives for 2023 as his report card would read D-, if we’re being lenient.
Perhaps this prediction is made out of hope but SURELY this is not a tenure that can last another 12 months. Unless everything magically clicks and we end 2024 mid-table in the Premier League after a triumphant play-off victory, there is little reason to keep him. I can’t say who Knapper will appoint instead but it won’t be Knutsen, Cooper, or Wilshere. Probably Hodgson.
- THE ‘EXPERIENCE’ EXPERIMENT WILL COME TO AN END
Fans: “Our team lacks composure, we need experienced pros!”
Webber: “Okay, here’s six over 30s with years of experience.”
Fans: “OMG no, our team is so old, we need hungry youngsters!”
This isn’t so much a hunch as a genuine strategy that will likely come to fruition. When the incoming sporting director openly admits the approach from the last transfer window was a mistake, it’s clear that it won’t be a long-term plan.
If Batth, Forshaw, and Barnes are still contracted to the club by December, I’ll eat my hat. It was almost like trying to play fast-flowing attacking football with players that have the pace of the Yarmouth Snails was contradictory.
Webber was always renowned for shopping on the continent (until good ol’ Brexit) so it will be intriguing to see where Knapper will be browsing, based on the shrapnel he has in his pocket.
I’m no scout but I’d rather go after some promising lower-league gems, instead of journeymen with knees of glass. Maybe the Attanasios’ investment will boost us, but I’m sceptical to say the least. We never got the balance right in 2023, the transfer porridge was either too sweet or too salty. Here’s hoping Knapper will get it juuuust right.
- SARGE, SARA, AND ROWE WILL BE LONG GONE
This is why we can’t have nice things. You all know the drill by now, let’s be honest: acquire a star player, allow them to show signs of brilliance in an otherwise mediocre team, sell them for far less than valued, and replace with with a free agent.
If we won’t get investment from our Americans, we might well get investment as a result of our American. The transfer talk is loud and given we’re a sinking ship, why would we be a more exciting prospect than any other top flight club?
I’m afraid a rotating screen and Soccerbot will not be enticing enough. As much as retaining our brightest stars would be an essential piece of business, it’s an uphill task if we sit comfortably south of the playoffs.
It will mean that any lasting legacy of Premier League quality would be extinguished, but it’s probably our own fault. Who knows, maybe Tzolis will come back fully fit and fighting?
- KAMARA WILL BE THE NEXT STAR
I really want this one to be true and it’s not a completely bananas prediction. The academy grad was given some minutes earlier this year but was clearly not quite ready for full first-team action. After a glistening loan spell so far with our dear friends at Pompey, he’s shown signs that maybe, just maybe, he could make a name for himself following the end of this season.
If Rowe burst onto the scene out of nowhere, I’m almost certain that top performances for a League One promotion chaser would warrant an opportunity.
Yes, this is where we’re at now. Gone are the days of acquiring international forwards from the Bundesliga, but beggars can’t be choosers. Stick Brad Hills at the back and Finley Welch in midfield and that could really be an exciting prospect.
Our academy has always been well-renowned so I’m praying that this will continue into 2024. They’ll all be sold by the start of next year anyway.
- WE’LL SIT 8th IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP ON NEW YEAR’S EVE 2024
A wild stab in the dark but why ever not! We’ll likely see out this season in the mire of mid-table, hopefully spurring some sort of change. Rome wasn’t built in a day so if any form of revolution is to take shape, it won’t be any time soon.
The trajectory remains downwards for Norwich but there could be green shoots if maintained correctly. No, this is not a veg patch gag. There is certainly no way that we’re magically reversing fortunes and dominating the league but I doubt relegation is on the cards either. Famous last few words but I’ll die on this hill.
Despite Webber’s soured legacy, his overhaul paid short-term dividends and my glass-half-full conscience is telling me that we have resources to change fortunes. It’s not wishful thinking at all, thank you very much.
Before wrapping this up, here are some quick-fire snap predictions to mull over:
- Cantwell will finally tell us the truth.
- Onel will delete his TikTok.
- We’ll get embroiled in another questionable sponsorship deal.
- We’ll be toasting Ipswich being bottom of the PL at Christmas (as we’ll probably have nothing else to cheer).
I’m not the person to say it but come on everyone, let’s be positive! 2024 will be our year! But if it isn’t, I’ll have plenty of content.
Auf wiedersehen 2023, you won’t be missed.