Recipe looks right for brighter future

So another season draws to a close with another bumper Carrow Road crowd witnessing a pretty lifeless finale in the shape of the 1-0 defeat to Southampton.

So another season draws to a close with another bumper Carrow Road crowd witnessing a pretty lifeless finale in the shape of the 1-0 defeat to Southampton. Which pretty much summed up the season, some might say.

The Saints march, or at least limp, on in the hope of securing a play-off place, while Canary fans are left to rue another year high on support and expectation, but decidedly low on results and, it has to be said, entertainment.

Sure, the season had it moments. City took nine points out of a possible 12 off newly-promoted Birmingham and Sunderland.

Indeed, should Steve Bruce's team go on to clinch the title it will be the second successive season Norwich have doubled the champions (who can forget the fun and games in the two wins over Neil Warnock's Sheffield United last season?).

Thus, once again Norwich proved that on their day they were, indeed, capable of beating anyone in the division. Another frustrating case of what could have been, perhaps.

What then, can we expect come August, as City boss Peter Grant prepares for his first full season in charge at Carrow Road?

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According to the Scot, Canary fans have every reason to be optimistic: “We start next season with every intention of winning the Championship. Make no mistake about that,” he said, at the club's annual player of the season bash earlier this week.

It was a good night. The mood was decidedly buoyant, Darren Huckerby ran off with just about every award going, and if you didn't know different you might have thought the 400 or so guests were celebrating a thoroughly successful campaign.

Funny that; City spend most of the season hovering dangerously close to the drop zone, ending up somewhere in the depths of mid-table, yet still the rank and file fans remain, on the whole, upbeat.

It's a phenomenon few clubs can boast, in much the same way many look on in envy and incredulity at the amazing level of support at Carrow Road, week in, week out.

What is it about football folk in this part of the country? Just why are they so committed to the cause, despite the relative lack of return, let alone success?

I think Monday night's bash went a long way towards explaining the situation.

Regardless of what's happening on the pitch, Canary fans by and large can see - and appreciate - what is being done at the club to get things right.

Some people, me included, felt the decision to change manager was left a little late. Even so, the process was undeniably handled with the best interests of the club at heart.

Delia Smith wants success. Why wouldn't she? Ditto, the board. Why wouldn't they? Naturally, the fans are the same and as long as they feel the club's hierarchy share their ambition, the much-vaunted sense of togetherness will remain.

And that, I think, is the one thing the Canaries have retained during the turbulent past couple of seasons - an all-important feel good factor.

Sure it was tested, pretty severely, during the dark days earlier this season, but having finally resolved the managerial issue the supporters are very much back on side. Season-ticket sales surely bear testimony to that.

Which brings me back to Monday night's awards dinner and Peter Grant, who took to the stage at the end of proceedings.

The City boss was at pains to stress that his mission is to take Norwich City back up to Premiership - and fast.

Sure, there's plenty of work to do in close season, but, all things considered, Grant suggested he was more than happy with the basis of the squad he already has at his disposal.

Get them all fit, add a couple of new faces, and the Scot claimed there was absolutely no reason why the Canaries shouldn't be mixing it at the right end of the table next season.

Grant's a passionate man. Canary fans are extraordinarily loyal. Neither guarantee success. But it's not a bad start.