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Michael Bailey

A week is a long time in football, so the cliché goes – but that doesn’t stop some weeks being longer than others.

It’s remarkable how swift the attention switches. Following Saturday’s Hillsborough humiliation it was all about where such a potentially exciting season had gone so terribly wrong for Norwich City – with seeds sown from the start of 2016.

There aren’t many Norwich City surprises as you trawl down the list of this season’s top Championship performers.

The times they are a changing – and Sunday’s East Anglian derby did everything to prove it.

No excuses are required to hear from a Norwich City figure of such standing as David Stringer.

It was a random fixture change. An exciting fixture too. The prospect of Norwich City taking on Huddersfield under floodlights and in front of the live Sky Sports cameras will be one of the key evenings this season.

“I want to be here for a significant time. Significant enough for it to be potentially my last club role in English football. I believe in staying in post for good periods of time and if I do that, then that will be a signal we’ve made good progress here at Norwich as well.”

A lot has been written about last year already, but after the week just gone it deserves one more mention – for one more reason.

Maybe it’s the lukewarm atmosphere we’ve had at Carrow Road. Maybe it’s someone taking a bit of ownership, when others had previously read the body language as more damaging than productive.

James Maddison scored the best free-kick I’ve seen in years, with that late September winner for Aberdeen over Rangers. It was a thing of beauty.

When times get tough, there are a few clichés that get repeated freely – and a key one I find myself looking for revolves around a single word: responsibility.

I guess you wouldn’t get prizes for writing such things in the last days of 2016 – but this was from my first column ahead of the new season, back in August…

This week was spent wondering, with Christmas and the last throes of 2016 almost here, exactly what this column should focus on?

Perception can be defined as the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted – and it’s been kicking Norwich City where it hurts for almost the entirety of a shocking 2016.

It’s hardly a revelation when a former player backs his old club in some form or another – but it does usually make for a good debating point, especially when it comes to football managers.

Surprises have been in pretty short supply in recent weeks at Norwich City – and when they have popped up, they’ve tended to be more towards the negative end of the spectrum.

It’s barely six years since Norwich City versus Southampton was a League One fixture. Through canny Carrow Road appointments and recruitment, plus a hefty points deduction for administration down at St Mary’s, only the first of those two clubs made an immediate return to the second tier.

Apparently the club never got him – but then Millwall is probably like that with a lot of people. Sat in a room for all 25 minutes of his post-Norwich defeat diatribe at The Den last year, I can tell you a lot of people in there were struggling to get him too.

Given events this week, tolerance seems to be going out of fashion at an alarming rate – there is just more damage it can do in the real world, as opposed to the bubble of English football management.

Reality – the blunt instrument that’s left a sizable lump on the head of Norwich City fans since Saturday afternoon’s Championship onslaught down on the south coast.

There will be fans who have followed Norwich City their entire life, through thick, thin and thinner – and who won’t have experienced a night like Wednesday at St James’ Park.

A lot has been written about the two young men adding much-needed impetus into Norwich City’s Championship return – and it’s the least they deserve.

Among the many and numerous ‘changes’ that can be pinned on the emergence of football’s transfer windows, the loss of one great tradition irks.

It has always stuck in my mind – a first TV appearance (that I’m aware of) at Portman Road. It came on ITV Anglia’s Derby Day highlights show.

For a sport with such deeply entrenched emotions, reading its psychology can be harder than you imagine.

If you can’t be optimistic in the days before the season starts, then when can you be? It’s a great question – and one that has endured year after year, and despite Norwich City’s horrendous opening day record.

Euro 2016 caught light as a tournament on Wednesday night, just in time for the knockout stages. And it was glorious.

It was supposed to be different this time following those joyous scenes at Wembley last May, but it never really happened for Norwich City. Michael Bailey picks out six lessons from another Premier League relegation.

It was October that Leicester rocked up at Carrow Road. The Foxes sat eighth in the fledgling Premier League, seven games into the campaign – with Norwich City 12th, three points behind and a goal-difference worse off by just two.

This season has been about as unpredictable as they come – but surely for no club more than Crystal Palace.

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