Carrow Road changes are good, but Norwich City fans will have to be patient
PUBLISHED: 18:07 22 April 2017
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I suspect that many of us had to pinch ourselves when the final whistle blew at Deepdale after such a lacklustre showing against Fulham – but nevertheless it was good to see City record an away win, even if they suffered the customary wobble after Preston pulled a goal back, predictably enough from a free header at a set-piece.
It was a belated, but welcome, reward for a magnificent set of travelling fans who have spent so much of their time and money on following City around the country this season, but received so little in return. They are the true heroes in yellow and green.
Regardless of what happens in the remaining games I think that most of us are already focussing on what promises to be a summer of significant change at Carrow Road. The prospect of radical change is exciting, but how quickly can we expect to see off-field activity translating into on-field success?
An interesting contribution to the traditional post-match radio phone-in last Friday came from a Fulham supporter who suggested that we should be wary of setting our immediate expectations too high, and made the point that City’s ineffectual display had been reminiscent of Fulham in their relegation season from the Premier League, but that it had taken the Cottagers two further campaigns to get to where they are now.
While Stuart Webber has certainly hit the ground running and has predictably focused his initial attentions on the club’s recruitment set-up – the under-performing area that most fans would point to as a key reason for City’s decline over the last two seasons – there is still much else to be done.
Clearly an overhaul of the playing staff is imperative once the new head coach has been appointed, but much will depend on the chemistry between that person and Webber and how quickly a rebuilt squad is able to gel.
It will also be interesting to see if similarly extreme techniques to those employed by Webber and his manager at Huddersfield, David Wagner, to create an immediate bond within the squad will be used at City.
Before the start of this season the Huddersfield squad, including 13 new signings, were taken to a small island off the Swedish coast, without electricity, mobile phones or even proper toilet facilities and forced to spend all their time with each other.
In interviews Wagner has spoken of the contribution that trip made to team spirit and referred to the need to take players out of their comfort zone in order to prepare them effectively for the cut and thrust of a gruelling Championship season. It’s certainly an argument that will resonate with City fans who have long suspected a return to a “Costa del Colney” attitude amongst City’s current squad.
City’s frequent capitulations away from home this season, and particularly some of the post-match player interviews, have hinted at a far from united dressing room and a lack of commitment when the going got tough, while their tendency to fade in the latter part of games has led to questions about the squad’s fitness, whether physical or mental.
After his Brighton players clinched their promotion to the Premier League, former Canaries boss Chris Hughton made a comment about his own team which would also serve as very accurate summing up of City’s disappointing season: “We’ve got a group of lads that are capable of doing it, but being capable of doing it and doing it are two different things”
Ability is one thing, but desire is something entirely different, and the first improvement that City fans will want to see on the pitch next season is a team that will fight for every point and give them something to be proud of.
That, under the right manager, may prove to be the easy part but the indefinable but essential chemistry that produces champions may take longer and require more patience from fans.