Paddy Davitt: Is relegation a disaster for City? Ask a Bury fan

Daniel Farke brought Premier League football to Norwich City. But staying there this season is not the end goal in his bid to bring longer lasting success to Carrow Road  Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Daniel Farke brought Premier League football to Norwich City. But staying there this season is not the end goal in his bid to bring longer lasting success to Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

The success of the ‘Norwich City way’ does not rest on the future employment of either Stuart Webber or Daniel Farke. It hinges solely on the fans.

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber admitted the club's recruitment before the Premier League return was not good enough 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City sporting director Stuart Webber admitted the club's recruitment before the Premier League return was not good enough Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Those healthy season ticket renewals, announced a few days before the 1-0 win over Leicester City, are a far better barometer of the current mood of the Canary nation than the social media echo chamber.

Take your view from that toxic environment and at various points on this Premier League quest Farke is out of his depth, Webber has been too stingy and let's not even dust off those cobwebs on the ownership debate.

Return to those same platforms around the point Jamal Lewis was swerving a gorgeous half-volley around Kasper Schmeichel on Friday evening and you would have only seen floods of positivity. The reaction inside the stadium was loud, proud and defiant.

It underlined again, for all the inevitable frustrations that have accompanied the past few months, the connection is there.

Manchester City face a ban from European competition for alleged financial fair play breaches Picture: Martin Rickett/PA WireManchester City face a ban from European competition for alleged financial fair play breaches Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

It is wrapped around a strong sense of identity that stills binds the majority who pack Carrow Road and the team Farke and Webber are building on and off the park.

The messaging has been consistent, when the counter charge was often levelled at previous regimes.

Yet talk of establishing the club as one of the 'best 26' in the country, or the necessity not to repeat the same financial mistakes of previous top flight transfer windows, only work if your fan base want to listen. And buy into the same answers. Or enough of them at least.

Despite the glorious respite of a hard-earned win over the Foxes the short term task of retaining City's Premier League status may prove beyond this group.

Steven Naismith was a flop at Norwich City. And a costly one at that 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdSteven Naismith was a flop at Norwich City. And a costly one at that Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Farke emerged from a happy dressing room on Friday night to deliver this line in his post-match media briefing.

"We can't judge our players and our situation on relegation. If we go down we say it is a disaster, or if we stay up it is a big success.

"For us we must judge our players in a realistic way.

"That we work hard, we show unity, we try and show tactically smart behaviour and we are at the top of our game, so everyone can say we gave everything we had."

Bury fans were left without a club when it folded earlier this season Picture: Dave Howarth/PABury fans were left without a club when it folded earlier this season Picture: Dave Howarth/PA

For a coach of a Premier League team to feel confident enough to project such a notion tells you he how far down this path Norwich have already travelled. It offers a revealing insight into Farke's own mindset, when it comes to his personal job security.

It also signals he believes enough of the fan base are willing to digest such a message and, crucially, acknowledge the horizons are far broader than these next 10 Premier League games.

Inevitably that 'small constituency who will never be happy' - which Webber alluded to recently in an exclusive Pinkun interview - would view such sound bites as betraying a lack of ambition; or an admission of failure.

In that same wide-ranging interview Webber accepted he had made mistakes and the recruitment prior to the start of this Premier League season was not good enough.

But there will be no adverse drag to such poor recruitment, in the same way City painfully discovered the last time they exited the top flight.

That is because there is a defined path and a direction of travel any measured supporter can see if they look at the team on the pitch or the re-development of the training ground at Colney.

There are no guarantees to any of this.

Norwich could be relegated and fail to return at the first time of asking. Webber has spoken in the past how there can be no sentiment if it reached a point he felt Farke had taken this as far as his appointee was capable.

Or one of those potentially juicy offers higher up the tree comes along to test this special relationship.

Relegation inevitably triggers turbulence and departures to a group of players who will forever be linked with a Championship title win against the odds. A lifetime of memories.

The goals, the comebacks, promotion parties, open top bus tours and impromptu mayoral succession plans on the balcony of City Hall.

But just look around the entire game. From Manchester City at the elite end, facing the prospect of major European-led sanctions, to near neighbours Bury - or the shell of what remains of that now defunct club - football is in a state of major flux.

Buffeted by structural imbalances and graphic inequality.

There is something to be said for the reassurance and certainty of a club striving to do it in a different way.

Not one accepting of their lowly status at the bottom of the Premier League for those critics.

Does Webber strike you as a man who is happy to settle for mediocrity? No, one that is striving to escape the boom and bust cycle that infests so much of the rest of English football.

It might not pay dividends between now and May. But that is not the true measure of success or failure.

If you think it is at Norwich, you are not paying attention.

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