Disfunctional it may be at times, but I am proud to be part of the Norwich City family

Alex Neil after the midweek win over Watford - the night City's relegation was confirmed. Picture: P

Alex Neil after the midweek win over Watford - the night City's relegation was confirmed. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

And so we have reached the point that, in all honesty, has looked increasingly inevitable to many people since that crushing defeat to Sunderland, although I suspect that none of us saw the other tumultuous events of the last week coming.

Last Saturday's game was almost a carbon copy of the previous week's at the Emirates as City showed way too much respect to one of the poorer Manchester United teams I've seen, wasted clear-cut chances and then succumbed to another piece of schoolboy defending.

While Sunderland were scrapping as if their lives depended on it against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light, City were giving Juan Mata and Michael Carrick the freedom of Carrow Road, with very little pressure exerted on them. Players as good as that need no second invitation and they kept the ball for long periods as the home players chased shadows.

It was a bad afternoon, but the following 48 hours bordered on the surreal and did nothing for the image of the club or David McNally himself.

While none of us knows the full story behind his abrupt departure, the range of reactions from fans and writers eloquently illustrated just how much he polarised opinion. While some couldn't wait to metaphorically dance on his grave, many more were genuinely distraught at the loss of a man who, beyond any question, played a massive part in the rebuilding of the club.


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Without David McNally's and Alan Bowkett's work I have no doubt that, even if Norwich City still existed today, they wouldn't have spent four of the last five years in the top division of English football, and however much people may have been alienated by his abrasive style, that is a legacy that can never be questioned and should merit the gratitude of every fan of the club.

On the other hand, the increasing centralisation of decision-making to one person wasn't necessarily an overly healthy situation and his growing omnipotence may not have been conducive to the development of a robust and balanced management structure.

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At the end of the day no one person, however powerful, is bigger than the football club.

The key question is where things go from here, and what is absolutely essential is that the process of appointing a new chief executive does not adversely affect the club's ability to start the process of recruitment for next season as early as possible, because a replication of last summer's transfer window simply cannot be afforded if City are to bounce back straight away.

And, of course, there was another game this week.

While Watford may have been on the beach it was both exhilarating and frustrating to see City return to the high energy pressing style that was noticeably absent against United and has been rarely seen at all in recent months.

After an uncertain opening period City blew the visitors away and could easily have had more goals had the woodwork and Heurelho Gomes not intervened, and just as the players stepped up their efforts, so did the fans.

I have rarely seen such emotion at Carrow Road in recent years and have certainly never heard the name of a manager who has just presided over a relegation season sung with such genuine affection.

There is something very special about City.

Despite the increasing commercialisation of recent years, with fans becoming customers and the club becoming the brand, the fact is that when push comes to shove there is a sense of unity here that just doesn't exist elsewhere, a willingness to share the good and the bad together.

Whatever the marketing people might say, it's not a brand, it's a family and I'm inordinately proud to be a member of it.

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