Chris Goreham: We knew it could be like this but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating
PUBLISHED: 17:30 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:37 13 January 2020
Norwich City fans have been here many times before and, let’s face facts, we all knew that reality could catch up with the Canaries in the Premier League after their barnstorming and entirely unexpected promotion last season.
It shouldn't be a surprise that City find themselves adrift at the bottom of the table but why is it so frustrating?
There was a lot of soul searching in the immediate aftermath of the mauling at Manchester United as Norwich City's survival mission suffered another damaging blow.
There is no disgrace in losing at Old Trafford but the fact it was 4-0 and quite such a convincing defeat made the chances of a return trip to the Theatre of Dreams during next season feel marginally more unlikely.
Norwich are bottom of the table but one of the seeds of hope was that they had been far from Premier League whipping boys.
Indeed the majority of their 14 points have come in matches that had been written off the moment the fixtures were published.
Wins over Manchester City and at Everton and hard fought draws with Arsenal, Spurs and at Leicester should all count for something but had been undermined by some ropey displays against fellow strugglers.
Aston Villa were previously the only side to have seen off the Canaries by a four-goal margin this season but that was in the midst of the cruel injury crisis that hampered their chances of the sort of flying start promoted teams often need to boost their bids for an extended stay in the top flight.
Saturday's loss was painful because we know this set of players is capable of so much better. That fact probably sums up why this particular season of Premier League struggle feels different to those that have gone before.
The teams that were promoted under Paul Lambert and Alex Neil were full of players who gave everything for the Canary cause but were unlikely ever to go on to do anything better.
We watched Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan, Russell Martin and co peak before our very eyes and earn rich and deserved rewards for years of hard work battling through the lower leagues.
Carrow Road loved them but there was rarely a concern that they would leave for a Premier League rival. Precious few players who represented the club between 2011 and 2016 have gone on to have unbroken careers playing regularly in the big league.
It feels different this time because the current City squad is blessed with such potential. Football is an uncertain business but who would bet against Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey, Todd Cantwell, Jamal Lewis or Emi Buendia flourishing into players that don't just exist in Premier League squads but become key members of top flight teams?
The feeling around Daniel Farke's side this season has been that if they could somehow find a way through their unforgiving Premier League baptism the club had the makings of something that could become very special with a sprinkling of well thought out new additions to compliment the lack of experience and top level know-how.
It could still happen but the fact is that to get the 10 wins and 10 draws that equal 40 Premier League points from here Norwich need to win seven and draw five of their remaining 16 games.
In other words they can only afford four more defeats and must somehow transform from a team capable of winning three out of 22 matches to winning almost half of their games.
It's a tall order and they probably need snookers to stay up but whatever happens from here many of the Norwich City players are probably only starting their Premier League stories.
How many chapters they get to write in yellow and green will depend on results over the next few weeks.