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Melissa Rudd: Why such a happy promotion can be tinged with sadness

Norwich City fans celebrate their second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Alan Stanford/Focus Images Ltd +44 7915 056117
27/04/2019

Norwich City fans celebrate their second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Alan Stanford/Focus Images Ltd +44 7915 056117 27/04/2019

©Focus Images Limited

After a season of late drama for Norwich City, it felt as though most in the stadium were anticipating a late Blackburn flourish on Saturday night.

For as loud as the ironic cheers sounded when Joe Rothwell's shot flew 10 yards over Tim Krul's crossbar in the 91st minute, the collective intake of breath of the 26,500 supporters inside Carrow Road when he shaped up to hit it was still very much audible.

Nerves were to be expected, but after Mario Vrancic's thunderbolt doubled City's lead just 20 minutes in it really was job done.

They may have started jangling again when City went to sleep and conceded two minutes later, but the rest was relatively comfortable.

Seeing the outpouring of emotion from the players when the final whistle eventually came said more than words ever could about the spirit of this side. Those tears and cheers in equal measure were replicated in the stands, too.

Nights like Saturday are to be savoured. Whatever happens next season, this campaign will be one that lives long in the memory of every City fan, even after the stars of it have hung their boots up. Unfortunately for many of us, the sheer joy at being able to witness it would have been spiked with a sense of sadness that a loved one had not.

My Dad passed away days after Norwich lost 4-1 at Loftus Road last season, a defeat that left them 14th in the Championship table, a point below Ipswich. How he'd have delighted in watching the contrasting fortunes of both in the 13 months that have passed.

I remember Dad telling me how crucial that coming summer would be in terms of recruitment, how it was Stuart Webber's second summer at Huddersfield where the club made the signings to take them from strugglers to promotion contenders.

He would never in a million years have predicted this, but it makes me smile to think he'd now be reminding everyone of his wise words.

MORE: Premier League survival odds in City's favour

Webber has always been keen to point out that he and Daniel Farke work together when it comes to bringing players to the club. While the latter deserves every bit of praise being heaped on him for the job he has done with this squad, he of course was very much Webber's appointment.

After suffering three top flight relegations in the last 14 years, Norwich fans know just how key this summer's transfer window will be to our chances of survival.

With Webber at the helm, rather than being fearful of whether we can attract the right targets, I'm excited at the prospect of who will be brought in to bolster this squad.

A national newspaper headline circulating even before promotion was officially confirmed claimed City would only have a budget of £20 million to spend in the Premier League. Webber's brutally honest remarks this week that we could spend £100 million and still go down hit the nail on the head.

It's about learning from past mistakes – and the constraints he and Farke have had to work under are a direct result of City's last doomed top flight transfer strategy. Then, it seemed to centre on signing players with experience of playing in it like Steven Naismith and Matt Jarvis. The bulk of the budget was splashed on the former when the season was already halfway through.

The class of 2019's promotion has already disproved that same theory - that to be successful in a league you have to sign players who have experience of it.

In that respect, the club's more extensive scouting network under Webber's stewardship is reaping the rewards. It will be a fine balancing act to bring in new talent to improve the team while at the same time keeping existing players happy and maintaining this incredible ethos in the dressing room, but there's no better man to try and execute it.

Before the various rumours abound about who has been spotted at Norwich airport and on their way to Colney though, there is the small matter of a title to be won. Perhaps that final dose of late drama has been saved for Villa Park on Sunday…

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