Paddy Davitt: Is history repeating itself? Not an earthly for this City vintage
PUBLISHED: 12:05 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:19 29 October 2019
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Norwich City will do very well to make this weekend’s trip to Brighton as memorable as the last one.
Apologies in advance if you had managed to erase a rain-sodden, miserable Championship trip to the Amex back in October 2016 from the memory.
This was less a 5-0 defeat, more a surrender, that prompted Russell Martin, City's captain and Brighton hometown boy, to emerge from the wreckage of a toxic away dressing room to deliver the following post-match diatribe.
"Too many lads gave up, it's as simple as that," he said. "We need to take an honest look at ourselves because we keep getting told we're Premier League players but that counts for nothing if you can't fight or win battles.
"We didn't win a battle all over the pitch. It's humiliating; if it doesn't hurt people enough then they need to take a look at themselves.
"It's embarrassing, if I'm being honest.
"That shouldn't happen at any level of professional football, especially with the players we've got. There's a way to lose and that's not it. It's not acceptable for us, for the fans who came down, for the club as a whole or for the players.
"If you don't feel that way then you're in the wrong business."
The searingly honest Martin too often, both for his own good and perhaps personal standing amongst City fans, had to front up and face the music. But this was the full ensemble; a truly low point in the final throes of Alex Neil's era.
The Scot would limp on for another four months before he was jettisoned and Stuart Webber unveiled to oversee a radical departure.
Which should underline in the midst of a troubling Premier League spell right now things are never quite as bad or as dark as they may seem.
It just feels that way in the heat of battle against some of the best in the world, as City struggle to build on the majesty of their winning performance against the reigning champions.
This group of Norwich City players, under Daniel Farke, are many things. Good and bad.
They may have flaws, they may lack the overall quality to flourish in a brutally challenging top flight, but they fight for each other and they believe in each other. Quitting is not an option.
In most cases one glance at their individual back stories tells you they have never had it so good in their varied careers.
They are a dressing room of many parts but united in the debt they owe this football club and this head coach.
Norwich may come up second best at the highest level but the white flag will never be raised. Any player who gives up on Farke's watch would be advised to seek alternative employment.
That is because the culture and the guiding principles of what a community club looks and feels like are a world away from the decline and the decay Neil presided over, and was eventually unable to change before it was way too late.
There is inevitable frustration at the manner City currently lose Premier League games but it is shared and magnified inside the football club.
Webber and Farke are not in the business of trying to win friends or plaudits.
Norwich's sporting director is never shy of a dead pan delivery in public spaces which might jar, were it not filtered through the context of a man who will never be deviated from the direction of travel he demands for the Canaries for as long as he is here.
See Farke's fresh challenge to his younger players following Sunday's 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United in the same context.
At first the admonishment may sting but the German has an unstinting faith in Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell. Along with the rest.
Such commitment to youth may have been borne out of financial necessity when he first arrived, but this is a head coach with the bravery to trust young players even when inexperience and naivety is ruthlessly punished.
The belief inside Colney is Norwich's squad has the capacity to grow and to develop, perhaps even to survive this time around and flourish in the Premier League. That is not to excuse residual mistakes or address the structural issues hampering short term progress on the pitch.
They may come up short again at Brighton on their latest visit to the south-coast.
But you will not be able to level the same charges as Martin did towards his own team mates after that previous 5-0 humiliation.