Norwich City are in limbo and it’s time to see some strong leadership
PUBLISHED: 02:30 03 April 2017
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Lacklustre defending, ill-discipline and another away defeat. Old habits certainly die hard.
Saturday’s showing at Villa Park did nothing but highlight just how deep Norwich’s problems run on the pitch and the size of the task at hand this summer. Get it right and there is no reason why a galvanised, new-look City team with a new man at the helm can’t challenge for automatic promotion.
Get it wrong and it could be a defining few months in the club’s history. Another Championship season that doesn’t end in promotion (nor relegation, you’d hope) will see Norwich begin the 2018/19 campaign without the aid of parachute payments and competing against relegated Premier League teams enjoying the biggest financial advantage yet.
The stall has been set out for drastic changes with the framework in place for a new structure. At the moment though, Norwich City is a club in limbo.
Appointed as a stand-in manager with no apparent assurances as to how many matches he will take charge for, the odds on Alan Irvine banishing the flaws that have blighted Norwich’s season have always been stacked heavily against him.
At this stage of the season there aren’t many excuses that haven’t already been peddled out. Irvine’s assessment that City were unlucky doesn’t seem to factor in that both of Villa’s goals were yet again wholly avoidable. A punt upfield and a mistimed interception for the first left five yellow shirts lagging behind Jonathan Kodjia when he fired it past Michael McGovern.
The second epitomised how defensively abysmal this team remains. A goal kick over the top and a one-touch finish. Simple as that. Conceding from such a play isn’t bad luck. Neither is the number of red cards shown to City players this campaign. Ivo Pinto’s dismissal was Norwich’s sixth and the second most of any Championship side this season.
The club’s form away from Carrow Road has been nothing short of embarrassing. None of those aforementioned excuses we have heard this season legislate for one away league victory in 14 matches.
For those fans who air on the side of realism, the play-off dream wilted weeks ago. This latest defeat is surely enough for the most optimistic supporter to finally write off those hopes of a top-six finish.
All that’s left to salvage from the final few weeks of this underwhelming season is accurately assessing which players need to leave Norfolk and which ones are worthy of keeping.
Yet three weeks after Alex Neil was given his marching orders, City still haven’t managed to secure Stuart Webber as sporting director let alone move towards appointing a head coach.
The club already has an unfortunate track record of failing to get deals over the line quickly. The delay in securing Webber’s services could be detrimental in being able to identify exactly who is required in the transfer window to make this squad the promotion hunters they were hailed to be. We’ve already been told the sporting director will take care of the recruitment, and with it presumably the clear out process of moving on players who no longer serve a purpose in the new manager’s squad. Players should be playing for their futures right now, and the sporting director needs to be in situ to witness these make-or-break performances.
There is no room for sentimentality when it comes to that all-important process and it needs to begin immediately. While us fans may be counting down the days until we can finally banish this season to the history books, this period is a crucial one for the club. It’s just a shame you wouldn’t know it from calibre of performances on the pitch.