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Robin Sainty

As a kid in the 60s and 70s I grew up with the magic of the FA Cup. The titanic battles that might go to two or three replays, the giant-killing feats of non-league teams, often achieved on pitches with barely a blade of grass.

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Most City fans will see 2016 as a year to forget. Following a tame relegation another underwhelming summer transfer window which failed to address chronic defensive issues led into a Championship season that started promisingly, at least in terms of results, but appeared to have slipped into terminal decline as the year petered out.

At the end of the Sex Pistols’ shambolic final concert Johnny Rotten’s parting shot to the disaffected crowd was “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”. City fans will know exactly what he meant.

Huddersfield’s performance at Carrow Road was the ultimate indictment of Norwich City’s failure to get value for money from the financial benefits of four Premier League seasons and two funded by parachute payments since Paul Lambert took them up in 2011.

Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong. Like many fans I genuinely felt that Alex Neil was no longer capable of getting the best from his squad but against Brentford, City looked like a completely different team.

There’s nothing worse than that moment at the end of a love affair when the scales fall from your eyes and you suddenly realise that the person you’d idolised actually has feet of clay.

I appreciate that the mannequin challenge has gone viral but I can’t help thinking that the first minute of a vital Championship game was an inappropriate time for the entire City defence to take part in it.

With the benefit of hindsight Alex Neil’s job was obviously safe regardless of the result against Leeds. Both the glowing accolades from the majority shareholders in a Times piece in the week before the game and a pre-match radio interview with Jez Moxey gave a clear indication he had the backing of the board.

Well at least I got to watch a team that was prepared to put their bodies on the line, tackle like their lives depended on it, press high up the pitch and deal with their defensive frailties by simply playing on the front foot rather than sitting back. It’s just a shame it wasn’t Norwich City.

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