Norwich City is fighting for a bigger prize than Championship promotion
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After the poisonous outpouring came the pause and a chance for some semblance of perspective to take root.
"The search for the magic answer is a pointless exercise. It doesn’t exist."
Neil Adams remains in his post. Norwich remain moored in mid-table mediocrity, weighed down by expectation and unfulfilled promise.
Get rid of Adams, promote Mike Phelan. Get rid of Adams and Phelan, go all out to attract Tony Pulis. Drop John Ruddy, promote Declan Rudd. On and on like a raging fire which erupted at the final whistle inside and outside Carrow Road against Reading and has been fanned ever since by social media.
The search for the magic answer is a pointless exercise. It doesn’t exist. If it did, football would not be littered with managerial casualties, short-term outlooks, financial instability and a growing sense of detachment from a core support who increasingly have to consider whether it is worth the outlay and the emotional distress on a Saturday afternoon.
The Canaries’ impressive season ticket base would suggest the club has been remarkably resistent to the currents afflicting many others around the country, but they are not immune.
Not when those trooping to Carrow Road this season have been short-changed. Reading was an abysmal offering, but there have been plenty to rival it since those heady August days when Watford and Blackburn were swept aside on a growing tide of optimism.
The reaction that greeted the final whistle against the Royals and the bitter aftermath make one thing certain. We have now embarked on the end game.
If Norwich’s board did not know before they do now. The silent, reasonable, considered majority have had enough and they want change. Whether that is Adams, whether that is major surgery to the playing squad, whether that is just a semblance of a common sense of purpose on the pitch and 11 players all buying into the manager’s philosophy.
You can measure this process in games or points from here, but Adams’ removal from frontline duty will not cure all the ills.
Norwich’s manager is a hugely likeable, honest individual. The passion to restore his club to the Premier League burns intensely.
Those who castigate him for a lack of experience need only look at the magnificent job Mark Warburton has engineered at Brentford after succeeding Uwe Rosler. Warburton swapped a high-flying career in the City to learn his trade in football’s academy system before guiding the Bees out of League One and into the Championship promotion mix.
Likewise, experience made little difference to Felix Magath’s ill-fated reign at Fulham.
Nor is this about Adams’ desire to attack and entertain with a commitment to possession football. Look again at the top end of the table and you see Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, who adhere to the same mantra, while the uncomplicated style of Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich proves equally durable.
The problems run deeper than Adams’ exit, or lack of experience, or playing style. The rump of a squad who endured Premier League relegation look constricted by that lingering stench of defeatism. The prolonged downward spiral under Chris Hughton triggered a schism between supporters and those who shape the direction of their football club and City’s early season response to adversity merely papered over the cracks. They are visible again.
Promotion is the remit but there is a bigger goal right now; to address a growing disconnect between those who follow and those who lead.
If the reaction since the final whistle against Reading proves anything it is Norwich City means so much to so many. That includes the manager and his new first team coach. But we knew that already. It is the patience of supporters and directors that will dictate how long they move forward together.