The time has come for Norwich City to start looking forward

Gary O'Neil of Norwich is one of a few Norwich players who slump to the ground at the end of the Bar

Gary O'Neil of Norwich is one of a few Norwich players who slump to the ground at the end of the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

As the Canaries face up to the prospect of reverting to life in the Championship, the EDP columnists and writers analyse what's gone wrong this season and, more importantly, how the club moves forward…

Chris Lakey: Experience key if City are to bounce back

By a quirk of fate, Alex Neil will shake hands with Joe Royle tomorrow afternoon, with the former Norwich City striker part of the temporary management team in charge of Everton following the sacking of Roberto Martinez.

Royle was, for a few weeks, a footballing consultant to Neil's predecessor, Neil Adams, until the lure of Everton proved too strong. Adams later called in another wise old head, Mick Phelan, as his assistant, but Sir Alex Ferguson's one-time right-hand man went not long after Neil took over.

Gary Holt is the only member of Neil's coaching team with managerial experience (minimal).


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Neil went into the Premier League campaign not only under-prepared manpower-wise with a run-up to the transfer window that was far too short, but with a management team lacking in Premier League experience. Surely it was a big risk?

Now, a season later, he has the experience, bitter though it was, and will have learned from it. But does he need some help? The elephant in his room will be the Football Board – the sooner that has gone the better.

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In its place, bring in someone with experience – City might not be in the Premier League next season, but they need to be better equipped for their next visit.

Paddy Davitt: Change needed to push on again

Much of the focus has centred on the future of Alex Neil in the aftermath of Norwich City's relegation from the Premier League.

Expect that to be resolved favourably after this weeekend's Everton finale once the Scot, quite rightly, gets a proper chance to sit down with the owners to plot the way forward from here.

Far more important is player turnover this summer and, in particular, what happens to a core of footballers who have now suffered a second relegation in three seasons.

This is no reflection on their abilities or even a mis-guided attempt to blame them for another demotion. Few, if any, would argue they are more than capable of doing another impressive job in the Championship but there needs to be a refresh and an injection of something new to meet the challenges ahead. Call it a changing of the guard, but if the long term goal is not only to get promoted again but become a Premier League staple it requires a pragmatic and, perhaps, brutal examination of the limitations of the current pool of players. Respect should be duly afforded to those who have been on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows over these past few seasons, but now is time for change.

Michael Bailey: So close to being a very different story

More points, more goals, more wins than two season ago – but exactly the same result.

Russell Martin's comments following defeat at Arsenal were telling for me. The skipper put it more delicately, but the message was simple. In 2014, City felt too secure in the knowledge they wouldn't be relegated – yet through managerial and boardroom caution, they were undone. This term, the players and management gave it their all; they just weren't good enough.

This may prove the season the global Premier League monster left behind City's co-operative model, however noble the club's financial framework. City's budget off the pitch left them well short of their 19 rivals – and in roughly the same spot in the table.

And yet, City were genuinely so close to pulling it off. If Timm Klose's knee had held out for six more games, maybe they would have.

The naivety at times was galling, from that defeat by Liverpool to being 2-0 up over West Ham – and conceding a goal from open play that started with not one outfield player in their own half.

Repeating what came after that 2014 relegation will be tougher. The squad refresh will be bigger. The expectation will be higher. City can't afford to fall short of that too.

David Freezer: This might just be a great opportunity

Relegation should have been avoided this season but it hasn't and the sooner everyone connected with the Canaries accepts the new challenge, the better.

The pain of going down will soon start to subside and now attentions turn to how City can get back to the Premier League in a better position to kick on and become established. Without sounding too 'happy clappy' this can be seen as an opportunity.

The majority of the current squad have not proved capable of being a force in the top flight and is now tainted by two relegations.

Refreshing the squad and finding the kind of attacking quality which can allow Alex Neil to build an exciting team will not only stand City in good stead but give supporters renewed interest as well.

Young players who are good enough to help City's reliable senior players push for promotion again and who will then have further unlocked promotion are needed.

Not just for the benefits on the pitch but also in potential re-sale value. It looks like Nathan Redmond could go for around £10m this summer – an almost £7m profit. Can the likes of James Maddison and the Murphy twins follow in those footsteps – and become fan favourites in the process?

David Powles: Team better suited to Championship

Enough has already been said about the many reasons Norwich City's season was such a failure.

Over and above everything the club failed to learn from the mistakes of the past, putting too much trust in players that many of us feared deep down were excellent in the Championship, but not quite good enough for the Premier League. Sadly that is how it proved.

Having been relegated we are now in the strange position where those players who may have been on their way out had City stayed up, become integral to the plans once more.

Take Cameron Jerome for instance. I'd never doubt his effort levels, but he's been proven to not quite have what it takes to lead the line in the top division.

Yet now he's the man I'd back to get the goals that might send us back up. There are a host of other players I'd put in that category, which is why I don't expect to see wholesale changes during the Summer. There will be exits of course.

Time will tell whether some of the players put ambition and possibly money ahead to righting this season's wrongs.

However, I'd hope Championship football would enable a few of the youngsters like the Murphy twins, to really make their mark. I'm confident we'll be involved in a promotion battle in 2016/17.

Ian Clarke: Neil is the right man to take City forward

Well, Alex Neil has pretty much done my work for me.

As Wednesday night's surreal night at Carrow Road unfolded, I pondered on four reasons why this season has gone wrong for the Canaries.

The manager's from-the-heart interview immediately after relegation was confirmed amplified almost exactly what I had been thinking.

He was brutally honest in his own faults – team selections, some formations and certain decisions during games.

I love his straightforward approach and his willingness to take responsibility. Neil will improve as a manager – and I want him here to get us back. Recruitment hasn't been good enough. A decent amount of money was spent – but it came too late. Top of the new chief executive's to do list is addressing this issue. The quality at the back leads on from that and there are countless times during the season when too many basic errors were made. Everything possible must be done to keep Timm Klose. He has proved he can be the rock to build the defence upon. At the other end the finishing was just not good enough.

Let's learn the lessons quickly and make sure we're only on loan to the Championship for one joy-filled season.

Melissa Rudd: Canaries must learn from their mistakes

'I don't think we strengthened as much as we'd have liked to.'

That, in a nutshell, is the underlying reason behind Norwich's record-equalling fourth Premier League relegation campaign. Alex Neil's brutally honest assessment after the final whistle on Wednesday night reiterated what fans have bemoaned all season. Norwich lacked quality in the most important areas of the pitch. Each defender who started the opening fixture already had a top-flight relegation on their CV.

The 6-2 defeat at St James' Park was a turning point, a day when our frailties at the back were exposed. Neil lost confidence in his attacking approach and abandoned his philosophy that had worked so successfully the previous season.

If City weren't shipping goals they were failing to score at the other end, while constant tinkering with the starting line-up did little to help team cohesion. Neil has to shoulder the blame for selection issues but was severely hampered by his resources, working with a Championship squad to achieve Premier League survival.

If Norwich can largely keep their squad together and Neil in charge, learn from last summer's window ad make reinforcements in attacking positions, then a top-six finish should be achievable.

Mark Armstrong: Transfer policy needs to improve

The seeds of Norwich City's relegation were sown last summer.

Alex Neil has admitted that not enough business was done and they were swimming against the tide thereafter.

To be fair to the Canaries, they went for it in January, spending in excess of £20m, but only Timm Klose truly made any kind of real difference before his knee injury.

The time has surely now come to look at the recruitment side of the club.

The Football Board has failed – you can count on one hand the number of players that can be deemed a success since its inception. Even before this board was born, City have struggled to bring players in that can make the difference in recent times.

The scattergun approach in January was naïve and players appeared to be brought in for the sake of it rather than if they fit in to how City were going to play.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the loan signing of Patrick Bamford demonstrates the lack of a proper transfer strategy.

The manager has to have the final call on signings – he's the man that has to carry the can if it doesn't work out.

But his coaching must be underpinned by a scouting network and a recruitment process that can deliver for him in the Championship and, hopefully.

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