David Hannant; 2019 has been one helluva year to be a Norwich City fan - whatever happens next

PUBLISHED: 14:22 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:22 18 December 2019

Norwich City footballers celebrate going up to the Premier League on the parade bus. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City footballers celebrate going up to the Premier League on the parade bus. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

As 2019 begins to draw to a close it is really rather difficult to gauge the mood among the Carrow Road faithful at the minute.

Depending where you look, you can find anything from cautious optimism to pitch forks being readied - though any regular reader of this column will know that when it comes to Norwich City my glass is always half full.

With Christmas less than a week away we find ourselves in the bottom three and tipped for relegation back down to the Championship - though at the same time just three points adrift.

While I am still optimistic that come May we will still have something to fight for, I won't be using this column to assess whether or not we'll stay up.

Instead, as people often do at this time of the year, I'm going to be looking back on what has been - in my view - one of the best years I have ever had as a fan of Norwich City Football Club.

Taking the calendar year in isolation, truly it has been a brilliant spectacle to behold.

As far as years go, I can't remember too many that have provided just as many precious memories as this one.

Over the last 12 months we have seen City lift a trophy in front of tens of thousands of fans, we've watched in awe as a depleted and injury-hit side humbled the multi-billion pound champions of England and we've seen some of the most scintillating football I have ever seen played by a Norwich City squad.

We've seen the emergence of a brilliant local talent in Todd Cantwell and a crop of players many of us expected to deliver a mid-table finish win promotion in the best possible manner.

Mario Vrancic celebrates his vital late equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday at the end of last season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesMario Vrancic celebrates his vital late equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday at the end of last season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Yes, like any year, there has been down points - the 5-1 home humiliation at the hands of Aston Villa being the lowest of the low.

But life needs dark and shade and it is often the sour that makes the sweet so sweet.

It was at the beginning on 2019 that Norwich really started to make proper strides under Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber.

While momentum did start to build in 2018, once the calendar turned over it really felt like we had stepped up a gear and looked every bit the champions we eventually became in May.

The number of precious and lasting memories that have been forged into the hearts of City fans this year alone is astounding.

Who will forget the almost perfect away performance at Leeds? That was one of the moments I knew we were onto something special.

Or how about the roar when Mario Vrancic hammered home that special free-kick to earn a vital point against Wednesday?

And what fan won't look back at Kenny McLean's joyous antics on the balcony of City Hall with a wry smile?

We've seen moments of magic from special talents like Emi Buendia, we've seen beautifully crafted and well-worked goals and seen goals fly in from all angles.

With City's precarious current league position, of course we are in real danger of relegation - but would that really devalue any of those precious moments? Of course it wouldn't.

It may be four years ago, but who doesn't still cherish that glorious day at Wembley?

Yes, that following campaign ended up disappointment, but did that change anything about the memories Alex Neil and Co created at the home of English football? Of course it didn't.

And yes, this season may end in relegation, but again, this takes absolutely nothing away from what a special set of memories 2019 has created.

Personally, I can't remember a Norwich City side that played more attractive, expansive and great-to-watch football than this crop has done for much of this calendar year.

I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to styles of play - and the style of football that Daniel Farke instilled in this group has more than satisfied my appetite.

On so many occasions this year, we have swept opponents aside with style, pomp and class.

Obviously there has been a fair share of frustration too, but none of us was under any illusions about the challenges that comes with Premier League football.

Last week's draw with flying Leicester was encouraging and could very well have been a win.

The coming months will be tough but I can truly see our lads continue to grow and improve - just as they did in the second half of the 2018/19 season.

So while the mood among City fans may have been on a gradual downward trajectory the last few months, I'm still optimistic.

Whatever happens though, it doesn't change the fact that 2019 has truly been one helluva year to be a Norwich City fan - a year I will remember and cherish for the rest of my days.

- MADDERS IS A HERO

So often when a player leaves a club they become like ships in the night and you hear little else about them.

Therefore, it was so good to see last week how much affection for the club James Maddison clearly has.

Clearly, this is a lad who is destined for big things - he could achieve anything he sets his mind to in the game.

However, hearing him speak so fondly of his time at Carrow Road speaks volumes for the type of man he is.

He is clearly grateful for the opportunities Daniel Farke gave him and bonded greatly with our supporters.

I'd love to think that one day we may see him in yellow and green again - though I suspect that would only happen either in his twilight years or if we suddenly find ourselves with a mega-rich, Manchester City-style moneybags owner.

It is also so refreshing to see the way he has remained there for the Taylor family after the tragic loss of their daughter Sophie earlier this year.

It seems Maddison truly is one of a kind - both on the field and off of it.

- I'VE HAD IT WITH VAR

A month or so ago I set out some ideas on how to fix the video assistant referee.

I stand by the four suggestions I made at the time and insist they would all improve what we have at the moment.

However, I've officially now reached the end of my tether with the nit-picking, hair-splitting mess it has become.

The fact that everything is being measured to the very millimetre - from offsides to penalty box infractions is just not the sport any of us fell in love with.

VAR in its current form is just too pernickety.

Every football fan accepts that occasionally, there will be minor errors by officials over small things. The old cliché is that these generally average out over the season - and generally, they probably do.

In trying to make the sport perfect, it has become far more imperfect.

VAR only needs to be there for the severe injustices of this world - to stop things like the Hand of God.

The league should see the season out - for consistency's sake - then admit defeat.

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