New Year, new Norwich City? Or will we simply see more of the same?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 January 2017

Norwich City board members during the Sky Bet Championship match at Griffin Park, London. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City board members during the Sky Bet Championship match at Griffin Park, London. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited +447814 482222

As we said goodbye to 2016 and ushered in 2017, as is in keeping with the times we live, social media provided a decent snapshot into people’s way of thinking.

Just like at the turn of every year, there are generally two distinct types. The ones that proclaim the ‘New Year, New Me’ mantra: a promise to get fit, to get a new job perhaps, to change something they are unhappy with.

Then there are those who are far less philosophical, who are content with things as they are. Those who take the view that a change of date is exactly that, so ‘Happy New Year’ and let’s continue with what we were doing when the last digit was 6 instead of 7.

City’s final fixture of a wretched 12 months was another indication that the club’s approach should certainly be that of the former.

While a clean sheet away from home and the creation of several clear-cut chances were bigger positives than any we have seen since beating Aston Villa, the 0-0 draw at Griffin Park was in many ways a fitting end to a year to forget for City fans in that there was very little to get excited about.

A point at Brentford in isolation isn’t a disastrous result, but at a time when Alex Neil needs to find a spark to reignite his team’s faltering season there was a distinct lack of one in West London, despite a radical change in set-up which brought much more solidity.

A 3-5-2 formation which included the return of Timm Klose and a two-pronged attack in Cameron Jerome and Nelson Oliveira was a change in approach that Norwich have been crying out for. For once Neil’s tactics couldn’t be labelled as inflexible.

Jerome’s missed chances on Saturday were perhaps an embodiment of the fundamental flaw of Norwich’s approach to a promotion tilt this season. An over-reliance on players who have been there and done it before to muster up the goods to win a second promotion in three years. Jerome’s return of six goals from 20 appearances this time compares with 11 from the same number of games in 2014-15.

There were two passages of play in three minutes which summed up the frustration some of Jerome’s performances warrant. A woefully over-hit shot when the ball was cut back beautifully for him to drive home unmarked inside the box was soon followed by a deft flick which outwitted two defenders to set up Jacob Murphy. The latter was far harder to successfully execute.

Back to the wider context of goings on at Carrow Road. As a Canary who works in London I must have been asked by a dozen colleagues to explain what’s going on at the club in recent weeks. To steal a phrase from Jez Moxey’s now infamous in-house interview, it’s much more complex than that.

The current feelings towards the board, exacerbated by that bizarre episode, means the discord between fans and the club has reached levels unseen since the days of protest under Robert Chase.

Worse, there appears to be a real sense of apathy emerging from some quarters of Norwich’s loyal fanbase which in the long-term could be far more damaging. Moxey referenced the fact Norwich City is a community, co-operative style football club. The irony is that at the moment fans feel as though it is the polar opposite. That they are not being listened to, that the financial health of the club is being put before ambition on the pitch, which in itself is a complete paradox.

After today’s clash against Derby, there are 12 days before the next Championship fixture at Rotherham with the visit of Southampton sandwiched in between. It’s difficult to see how Neil can survive that period should City start 2017 in the same vein. If he is still in charge for the visit to the New York Stadium then it will be a fairly strong indication that the board’s New Year approach is simply ‘carry on regardless’.

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