Chris Lakey: Have Norwich City ensured your glass is half full yet?
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There are certain rules to being a football fan. One of them is that you must not sit on the fence.
Football isn’t a place for umming and ahing. It is a place where strident views are part and parcel of the supporting game. That’s evidenced by the fact that you will rarely come across someone who is ‘just’ a football fan. Nine times out of 10, indeed probably 99 times out of 100, that football fan is the supporter of one club. Which is very different from just being a football fan. You can be both. It’s pretty unlikely you are just one.
So, opinions count when you are with your buddies discussing your team - because there is also the little matter of football oneupmanship, when you inwardly want to prove you are more knowledgeable about the game and your club.
So, opinions. Very important.
As is happiness. And at the moment, if you are a Norwich City fan, your happiness level over the past week or so may have changed. Depending on your opinion of the transfer business City have done. See what I mean?
Six new players have come into the club this summer: there were a few we were pretty sure about and one who went completely under the radar.
Melvin Sitti and Sam McCallum were signed in January while Danel Sinani’s move from Dudelange was announced in April – all will be new boys. They came in well before we knew how tough it was going to get at Carrow Road after Project Restart.
Jacob Sorensen and Przemyslaw Placheta were confirmed just before the season ended, but the other four have all been announced since, in a week when City fans had needed a pick-me-up.
Bali Mumba, Sebastian Soto, Matthew Dennis and Kieran Dowell, the one who avoided the radar, have all come in, in an attempt to brighten your lives. But have they?
Has the addition of these players done anything to put a smile back on your face? This is a straight question, not a leading one.
Soto goes out on loan while we perhaps ought to assume Dennis is one for the Under-23s. For the rest, there’s a first team shirt up for grabs. Their presence means one or more of last season’s under-performers will go - whether or not they carry a price tag that helps towards the sustainability model.
Something has to be done to freshen up the squad, but have City got it right? Only time will tell (the great get-out clause), but out of the incomers, only one has played regular Championship football before. The same one who is the only one to have ever worn a Premier League jersey. Dowell, the most recent one in so far, is the most experienced of the signings, at the ripe old age of 22.
It is a leap of faith with the others - but that’s what City do.
It was a leap of faith to put Max Aarons in the first team dressing room ahead of an East Anglian derby, but look what happened. A star was born. It’s in danger of becoming hackneyed, but the same sort of thinking applies to Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell: young players have had trust placed in them, and responded.
So, again, are you happy to see that policy being repeated in the Championship next season?
And if so, how happy? Very, fairly, not very?
The very happy ones will perhaps be those who have seen the policy work before, as just mentioned. And they will see that the man who introduced that youthful trio to his firsts team, Daniel Farke, is still in charge.
Category II will probably wonder whether more experienced players should have been brought in, with a little bit of risk taken when it comes to the inevitable higher cost. Sometimes, those gambles pay off. Sometimes they don’t (Steven Naismith).
The glum looking supporters who are not at all happy perhaps have every right to be concerned: after all, their suspicions will have been raised over recruitment of late. And last season. And the fact that Sheffield United and Aston Villa looked at things differently and opted for a different policy. And are still in the Premier League.
However you feel will have been influenced by the past 12 months and, more particularly, the past week or so. City’s decision to reveal all to the world will have been in part to mitigate what happened since June 19, when they returned to action after lockdown. It won’t have erased the memory of relegation, not the manner in which it happened, but it might well have given some hope that positive things are happening to ensure all glasses are half full next season.
Whether that makes you happy or not, perhaps only time will tell.