Ian Clarke: Rest of this season could shape City’s future for many years to come
PUBLISHED: 19:11 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:11 26 February 2020
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I reckon it was at about 2.30pm on Sunday, February 23 when for the first time I really thought Norwich were heading back to the Championship.
Regular readers of this column will know that my Canary glass is generally well over half full.
Even as Daniel Farke's men have been cut adrift at the foot of the Premier League, I have believed that the "little miracle" of staying up could be achieved.
Saturday's other results went well for City and with Wolves having been in Europa League action about 65 hours earlier, there had to be hope to take advantage of it.
I didn't travel to Molineux, so followed from my sofa thanks to the social media feeds from my colleagues Paddy, Dave and Connor plus Chris Goreham's commentary.
Things sounded bright to start with but words like "naive" "asleep" and "diabolical" were soon flying around as the home side took the lead and quickly doubled it.
The "atrocious lack of awareness" which led to Jota's second goal was the moment I sensed the dreaded R word was going to be reality.
What followed was a terribly disappointing display lacking belief, drive or cohesion.
We had 60pc possession but barely laid a glove on Wolves.
Yes, they are a really good side. But to have caved in so easily was a sign of a team only heading in one direction.
I know we don't want to see City resorting to dirty tactics, but only giving away six fouls does smack of a group not really getting stuck in to the job in hand.
The body language at the final whistle was depressing.
So where do we go from here?
Accept the inevitable, see the season out, hope for a bonus from the FA Cup and think about next term?
These next 10 weeks really could shape the future of Norwich City Football Club for many years to come.
If the current points per game ratio continues, we could be heading for the lowest tally in our top-flight history.
There's a feeling that the heads of certain members of the squad are being turned and their attentions are elsewhere.
No-one is naive enough to think that we won't lose some of our young stars if we do head back to the Championship.
The message from Stuart Webber that departures won't be easily accepted is absolutely the right one.
The club has put huge faith and considerable resources in to those lads - and that has to be recognised.
On Friday night one of the best teams in the land heads to NR1. Leicester have scored more on the road this term than anyone apart from Man City.
They will be eager to cement their Champions League place, so we know it's going to be really tough.
We have to see the spirit, courage and creativity from that Man City victory which has sadly drifted away.
That must then be repeated as the 9,000-strong green and yellow army heads to Spurs on Wednesday.
Victory there would leave us one game from Wembley - and two from achieving a feat that no team has achieved in our 118-year history.
If those boys could reach an FA Cup final, they would rightly go down in folklore.
That should be a massive incentive.
Even if we do slip through the relegation trap door, if we see the application and expansive football we know the group is capable of, it will create a foundation of positivity to bounce back.
If the Wolves surrender is the blueprint for the rest of the campaign, it could be damaging for the long term.
We need bravery and courage throughout the club.
Countless words have been spoken about Emi Buendia in recent days.
I don't know what's gone on behind the scenes - but as a fan I really believe he should be back in the team for Leicester.
We need to see the return of confidence which was so apparent earlier in the campaign.
My current player of the season - by some distance - is Tim Krul.
His example needs to be followed by every other player who crosses that white line.
And anyone who has questioned Grant Hanley this season needs to look at themselves.
Since he returned to the team he has been excellent and displayed all the qualities we need so badly.
So come on, let's see true grit and guile for every minute of every game.
If we survive and go down Wembley Way, it will one of the great seasons of all time.
If we go down fighting and sticking together, we'll have the best chance to bounce straight back.
Why I'm so proud of City
Week in, week out I hear stories about people involved with Norwich City which remind me why I'm so proud of our club.
The latest tale came at the weekend and was a bright spot in another wise fairly grim time at Wolves.
Nine-year-old Luca Smith and his dad Steve were among almost 2,500 City fans who headed to the Midlands.
They discovered they were staying in the same hotel as the Canaries' players and management after Luca spotted Alex Tettey (always a treat for anyone!).
They managed to chat to lots of the players but head coach Daniel Farke was not around at the time.
However, after Luca and his dad had gone to their room they got a message from the receptionist that Farke would be happy to see them and have a chat, even though it was 9.30pm on the night before the game.
Wow, what a treat for Luca - and so much credit to the gaffer and all the lads.
Shae is an amazing young man
Another story from Carrow Road this week has been about the amazing young man Shae Hutchinson.
The 19-year-old has a rare hereditary medical condition and his dad donated a kidney to him in 2018.
Unfortunately the procedure has not been successful and Shae now needs another organ.
This situation could easily have put the young man off.
But he has been fantastically determined to live his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
He has opened up about the challenges he has faced - and I'm incredibly impressed with what he has achieved already.
Being a young player has so many hurdles to overcome.
In the modern game every little margin is crucial.
Shae is showing incredible resilience and courage and I so hope he gets the kidney he needs and goes to the very top.
Again, lots of credit to City for all the support they have given him.