Jonathan Blathwayt: Divisions between fans and City board are worrying
- Credit: Daniel Hambury/Focus Images Ltd
This is my last Fan Zone article for the season, and in all honesty, thank goodness for that!
When I was asked if I’d like to make a regular contribution, I was excited at the prospect of the upcoming season. Norwich were coming off a 97-point season, spending money, fans were returning to grounds and things were looking on the up.
I knew Norwich were in for a tough time on the pitch – I always suspected relegation would be the ultimate outcome – but I was expecting a significant improvement on the previous attempt at the Premier League.
To sign off my season’s writings following one of Norwich’s most dismal performances in an entirely dismal season, seems fitting in some way. There was a temptation to just submit a single sad face emoji for this piece, mirroring the amount of effort in my writing to that of some of Norwich’s players.
In all honesty, I had already checked out for the season. It has been clear for all of 2022 that relegation was a matter of when and not if. Back-to-back wins in January felt like they were delaying the inevitable rather than changing the course of the season.
For Norwich, relegation to the Championship will never be an earth-shattering event. It is a club that is perfectly placed as an ‘in-between’ team, along with Watford, West Brom and Fulham, and you suspect there will be more promotions and relegations in the future while the status-quo persists.
Parachute payments will mean Norwich become one of the richest clubs in the Championship and have a squad that looks highly capable of doing well (on paper at least).
- 1 Suffolk woman and her three dogs die in London crash
- 2 Seven beach walks with a cafe pit stop to try in Norfolk
- 3 Police stop 85 vehicles in one day amid safety crackdown
- 4 Tomorrow's lunar eclipse: How and when to see it
- 5 'Awe and disbelief' as thousands of bees swarm pub garden
- 6 Seaside bar taken over for three weeks by Hollywood crew shooting film
- 7 Neighbours' tribute to crash victim who 'thought the world of her dogs'
- 8 Dog and group cut off by tide saved after being spotted waist-high in water
- 9 Century-old farm machinery firm invests £6m in its factory's future
- 10 Couple put 'TARDIS' home with 'amazing' sea views up for sale for £475k
What could have a greater long-term impact is the divisions that are emerging between fans and the hierarchy at the club.
The relationship seems as bad as it has been since relegation to League One and whether it just takes Norwich starting to win games in the Championship to heal this divide is certainly unclear as of right now. That being said, winning games usually brings everyone together pretty quickly.
So what for the future? Is a major overhaul and redirection needed? When things go badly there is a natural reaction to throw it all away and start from scratch.
But whether this would actually help Norwich in the long-term is unclear right now. The tighter restrictions on signing overseas players since Brexit have meant that bringing in new talent is getting harder and more expensive.
Holding onto proven Championship players might be more sensible.
Many fans are baying for blood with Stuart Webber, understandably, but again if he were to go can Norwich be confident they can find better to replace him?
This is a sporting director who has completely renovated the training facilities and academy, while helping to build a squad that has achieved two promotions.
For years Norwich fans were told that any money spent away from the playing squad would result in the team being uncompetitive – Webber has proven that to be untrue, in the Championship at least. This is no mean feat when you consider he did it during a global pandemic. Again, maybe more sensible.
However, who wants sensible? In this moment of disappointment and anger caused by the season we’ve had, a fresh start definitely has an appeal.
Sweep the decks, take out the trash, kick it to the kerb and other such phrases spring to mind.
Sack Smith! Sack Webber! Sack the board! Sack the players!
Wouldn’t we all feel better then? Maybe for a day or two at least.