Norwich City need to forget about this season and focus on how we come back
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Canaries columnist Lee Payne lays out what City must do if they are to have any chance of a swift return to the Premier League.
I will not be the only one who is glad to see the back of that season.
It was quite simply a disaster for Norwich City. There was a hint of what was to come in the very first game, when the referee disallowed that goal against Crystal Palace. We had a televised hammering at Newcastle, that sickening Adam Lallana goal against Liverpool and enough 'typical Norwich' results (Aston Villa, Swansea, Crystal Palace) to make us question our wisdom in continuing to let this club toy with our emotions.
We can at least take victory at Old Trafford with us as we head back to the Championship. That result, and a few others City put together over Christmas and New Year, made some of us start to think we'd be fine in this division. That we had enough about us to mix it with the big boys.
Alas, that was not the case. There were precious few other moments to savour during this campaign. Even the last gasp victory over Newcastle at the beginning of April has lost its shine now we've joined the Magpies in being relegated. A relegation that was avoidable. If the club had learned the lessons of just two years ago, this wouldn't have happened. This is the source of the frustration. I do, however, believe that going down is worse news for Newcastle and Aston Villa than it is for us. The following is my wish list for the summer and next season.
• CLEAR OUT THE DEADWOOD
- 1 Massive care village and research park planned for edge of Norwich
- 2 Can you spot yourself in the Classic Ibiza crowd at Blickling?
- 3 'I'm sorry' - Woman behind cancelled festival offers customers £100,000
- 4 New tenant bid for former Argos store on retail park
- 5 Congestion eases after crash on outskirts of Norwich by A47 junction
- 6 Travellers set up 'unauthorised' camp in popular park
- 7 9 West End shows heading to Norwich in 2023
- 8 Water company 'very sorry' as people fill sandbags in flooded street
- 9 Adder warning in coastal areas as snakes come out to bask
- 10 Jailed this week: Paedophile and teen who blinded man
Time has to be up for some of the players in the current Norwich City squad.
Sebastien Bassong springs to mind. The defender has just been relegated for the sixth time in his career and was a liability in a porous back four. It might also be time for Russell Martin to move on, and I would personally drive Steven Whittaker to any club willing to take him off our hands.
The whole squad needs going through with a fine-tooth comb. At the same time, it's vital we keep hold of our best players – as long as they are up for the fight. I am very keen for us to retain Nathan Redmond and Timm Klose.
• KEEP ALEX NEIL IN THE JOB
The manager was shown to be naïve many times this season, appearing not to know his best eleven and taking too long to make a substitution.
I am confident, though, that Neil will come back from this experience a better manager and I want us to be the club that benefits. Let him get on with the job, and back him properly in the transfer market.
• GIVE YOUTH A CHANCE
A personal bugbear with City is the lack of first team players that come through our academy.
The Championship is the ideal place, with slightly less pressure than the Premier League, to blood some youngsters. Let's get Josh and Jacob Murphy, Jamar Loza and our new signing from Coventry, James Maddison, in the team.
• MAKE JONNY HOWSON CAPTAIN
Russell Martin has been the perfect ambassador for Norwich City, but he has increasingly shown to be lacking leadership on the pitch.
My wish is for Jonny Howson, just voted Player of the Season, to be given the armband. Howson was one of the few consistent performers in the City squad and was already doing the job for Leeds before he came here.
For now, all we can do as fans is come to terms with what's happened and take some time to get ready for another season. One thing we know for sure – it won't be dull.