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Michael Bailey: Don’t revise Norwich City history – simply respect its place in it, just like with this year’s Player of the Season vote

PUBLISHED: 11:55 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 21 April 2017

Tempers flare between Burton's Tom Flanagan and Cameron Jerome. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Tempers flare between Burton's Tom Flanagan and Cameron Jerome. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

It started with a picture – or rather a tweet. A beaming Sebastien Bassong holding the Barry Butler Trophy, alongside words to suggest the whole scenario was an aberration.

It started with a picture – or rather a tweet. A beaming Sebastien Bassong holding the Barry Butler Trophy, alongside words to suggest the whole scenario was an aberration.

Well it wasn’t. You can malign Bassong as much as you want for where his Norwich City career currently stands, but that doesn’t invalidate the storming performances he’s had in the past.

They include his crucial return to duty as City returned to form and the Premier League under Alex Neil two seasons ago, plus his well deserved player of the season award in 2012-13 under a certain Chris Hughton.

For those that like a revisionist agenda, those two examples won’t work. They may also have been arguing this past week over how City should never have sacked Hughton three years ago.

Chris was a great man to deal with, full of integrity. While he was here he never returned to a club without being welcomed with big, open arms.

He had what bordered on a thankless task, taking over from Paul Lambert’s meteoric rise – and ultimately those expectations undermined what he tried to do.

It became a matter of when he would go, not if, following the 7-0 hammering at Manchester City – just like it became a matter of when, not if, for Alex Neil following his side’s 5-0 hammering at Hughton’s Brighton in October.

I’ve not missed covering many City games during my nine-plus years in this job, but by some coincidence they are two of them.

Hughton lost the backing of most fans months before the board decided to act, a decision they took months too late. There was no hope of a turn around, and arguably minimal hope Carrow Road had the patience to back a Hughton-led Championship push.

The truth is we’ll never know the alternate reality. All that should be said now is Hughton deserves only a classy reception from Carrow Road come tonight.

Seeing the Brighton party won’t be easy for anyone at Norwich.

It’s a sad indictment the sole thing still to be decided this season, is who will be the 2017 winner of the Barry Butler Trophy – they too will have the rare chance to be maligned a few years down the line, for being top of a pile that ultimately failed so miserably in achieving their pre-season goal.

MORE: Norwich City’s primary goal as they look to appoint their new head coach

Be aware – that last sentence comes with a strong degree of sarcasm. An award with Barry Butler’s name on it deserves to be treasured. Even when won during the most torrid of seasons, it is won. It is deserved. They will have bust a gut for the City cause more than others, to the point it’s widely recognised by those who shell out their money every week.

Which only leaves me to have my say. The voting is open. The candidates are not in huge supply. But none of that will stop the winner being fully deserving of the title player of the season.

For the record Alex Pritchard and Nelson Oliveira get squirrelled away as being unlucky to miss out, given they simply haven’t played enough games. It should be a serious summer priority to ensure both get the chance to win it next season.

So, on to my top five – with any more stunning performances before May 7 duly excepted.

• 5 – Jacob Murphy

For every suggestion the young winger has drifted in some games and not matched his potential in others, the goals and assists columns speak for themselves. Bare in mind Jacob wasn’t even ahead of his twin this time last season – and may have even been released by the club.

• 4 – Jonny Howson

Mr Reliable, last season’s winner and someone genuinely capable of playing at a higher level. I’m big Howson fan and he would be higher, if it wasn’t for the feeling he’s drifted through games since the promotion charge came off the rails.

• 3 – Ivo Pinto

So consistent, you almost forget about him. This season has proven time and again City in the Championship are infinitely easier to beat when Pinto isn’t playing. He deserves recognition for that and his relentless effort.

• 1 – Wes Hoolahan & Cameron Jerome

I know, it’s a cop out. One is the sentimental vote – Hoolahan hasn’t been City’s best player this season, but the fact he’s never won it in his nine seasons is something of a travesty.

As for Jerome, even when City have fallen short he has ran himself into the ground and spoken up. Oliveira has been his only competition – be it injury or suspension, at times there was no competition at all. Jerome is one of the few City players to feature among the division’s front runners; in this case goals scored.

Fortunately it’s a public vote, so it’s your decision who you plump for – and your guess who my vote went to.

Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey and Facebook @mbjourno

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