What would my perfect ‘20-21 season look like?
PUBLISHED: 10:47 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:30 11 September 2020
This season of course cannot be perfect.
As I write this, test games experimenting with socially-distanced supporter attendance are planned down the A11 at the Abbey Stadium and conclusions drawn from the Cambridge ties in this past week will help inform the EFL’s discussion with Norwich City and other Championship clubs on where, when and how many of us will be allowed to attend stadiums while Covid 19 continues to disrupt every aspect of our lives.
City’s executive have already conducted a wide-ranging consultation on the practicalities and preferred options for a fan return to Carrow Road – early indications are that, understandably, a Covid-secure stadium will be two thirds empty, although rumours of bans on singing and chanting and mandatory mask wearing seem wide of the mark.
So any perfection in terms of footballing performance on the pitch for me will be tainted by the continued absence of some, if not all, fans.
I appreciated Norwich City’s vinyl terrace covers in the Premier League Project Restart games behind closed doors – shaming the bland, corporate plastic seat coverings of virtually every other club in the league with our emphasis on fan group representation and inclusion (the rainbow Justin number 9 shirt was a design triumph in spite of being the backdrop for far too many goals conceded), but I tired of TV games with the dubbed “On the Ball, City”, players’ voices echoing in the abandoned stadium and the lack of the at-oneness with no physical mass of antsy yellow and green bodies around me.
That said, I am pretty excited about the Canaries’ prospects in 2020-21.
We seem sure to retain many of the established players who destroyed much of the opposition in our title-winning season, including the eternally youthful and athletic Timmy Krul, who is such a bonus off the pitch and in the dressing room as a role model and motivator; the obscenely-gifted Emi Buendia and the Championship goal machine that was Teemu Pukki.
And we have an apparent excess of new young talent of which we’ve had glimpses in pre-season: Jordan Hugill, who could be the love child of Grant Holt and Jordan Rhodes, mashing up touch play and physical presence; Josh Martin - channelling the boy Maddison with his free-kicks; the creativity and assurance of Keiran Dowell, plus the generally-beautiful faces, bodies and hairdos (we definitely lead the stylists’ league at the outset with the magnificent assembly of curls, top knots and Alice-bands).
If enough fans to make a difference are permitted a return to the Carra, I imagine the new boys will generate some excellent tuneage – “Xavi Quintilla from RealVilla” anyone? And do we dare sing “Citti! Citti! Citti!” for Melvin?
On-pitch perfection within the scope of a pandemicised Championship will be the continued ambition and ingenuity of an approach we now expect from the Stuart Webber/Daniel Farke partnership. Exciting, pacey, technical play and team management that maximises the introduction of youth to first team football while applying the utility and experience of seasoned players (though many of those ‘old hands’ are still in their early 20!).
We’ll see few 0-0s, but a fair few late comebacks – making full use of extra time. We’ll see considerable progress in at least one cup competition, we’ll score hatfuls and concede more than we should, but we’ll seal the title with room and time to spare.
What a season to be a fan with restricted match days….
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