Dual business for Norwich City – one real and the other a little fake at times

Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates after opening the scoring for Southampton in the third rou

Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates after opening the scoring for Southampton in the third round FA Cup tie at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

As a kid in the 60s and 70s I grew up with the magic of the FA Cup. The titanic battles that might go to two or three replays, the giant-killing feats of non-league teams, often achieved on pitches with barely a blade of grass.

And then the day of the final when, for the only time in the year, TV revolved around a football match for more than a couple of hours and we got to peek into the team hotels before the game as the cameras were given access before tracking the journey to the twin towers of Wembley.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone, as evidenced by low crowds at many games over the weekend and the severely weakened sides put out by several Premier League clubs, Liverpool and Bournemouth being two of the worst offenders. It saddens me to see such a venerable football institution fall so far from grace.

Whether a half-full Carrow Road was down to a ticket price that was the third highest charged anywhere for a third round tie or a reflection of deeper misgivings about the club's direction will remain a matter for debate, but clearly the decision to add 25pc to the price charged for last year's fixture against Manchester City backfired badly.

While I appreciate that the club would have wanted to maximise income, a bit of fag packet accountancy would suggest that if a price of £20 per adult ticket had been maintained, an increase in attendance of only around 3,000 would have been required to match the income generated, but more importantly would have contributed significantly to the atmosphere.

It seemed from Alex Neil's post-match comments that he, too, was disappointed by the ticket price, or at least its effect, as I'm sure that he felt that a bigger crowd might just have raised his players to another level.

In fairness to the club, they acknowledged and apologised for their mistake and that deserves credit, but one hopes that the mistake is learnt from.

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As it was, those who did go were treated to an entertaining game in which City produced plenty of good moments, although, once again, they were hamstrung by their inability to deal effectively with cross balls into the box, with Virgil van Dijk offered the freedom of Norwich for the first and Maya Yoshida outjumping Russell Martin to power a header through a flailing Michael McGovern for the second.

Now, however, it's back to league business and the transfer window, an event that generates enough 'fake news' to throw Donald Trump into apoplexy. I think most would agree that there is a burning need to freshen up an ageing squad, but I suspect that net outgoings may exceed incomings this month.

We are all anxious to see whether the end result is a renewed push for a play-off place or a continuance of the sort of form that has dogged the last three months. Whilst this season has increasingly looked like a massive lost opportunity, there is now a chance to give it a lift, but that will require a level of acuity in the marketplace that hasn't always been apparent in recent years.

In a nutshell, the recruitment team need to identify a Nelson Oliveira (pictured) rather than a Ricky van Wolfswinkel. It can be done, as evidenced by Barnsley and Huddersfield, but only time will tell whether City will be able to up their game in an area where they have been found wanting recently.

Wednesday night's supporters groups' meeting with senior staff at the club was promising and suggested a welcome desire to listen to fans' concerns and to develop a better relationship going forward. We now look forward to seeing that carried through into action.