Ian Clarke: A week which summed up life as a fan of Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 14:04 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 25 January 2018

Ivo Pinto rallies his Norwich City team-mates after Sheffield United's opening goal at Carrow Road. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Ivo Pinto rallies his Norwich City team-mates after Sheffield United's opening goal at Carrow Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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A thoroughly impressive away win at one of the Championship promotion chasers which triggered optimism that a play-off spot may still be possible.

Todd Cantwell made his Norwich City debut at Stamford Bridge. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTodd Cantwell made his Norwich City debut at Stamford Bridge. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

A heroic effort against the Premier League champions which may have ended with an agonising penalty shoot-out loss but won the hearts of the nation.

A depressingly familiar lethargic home display against a fresher and hungrier team in which the lack of firepower was again highlighted and mid-table mediocrity again became the most likely outcome for the season.

Three of the most experienced members of the Carrow Road ranks moved to pastures new including the club captain, the highest earner and the first Canary to score at Wembley (assuming you accept that the Milk Cup final winner was a Chisolm OG).

The so-called “Mini Messi” arrived in NR1 and we’re promised “2-3 others” will come in before the transfer window shuts (we assume one of them is a Scot who was then loaned back to his current club).

Josh Murphy consoles Angus Gunn following Norwich City's penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesJosh Murphy consoles Angus Gunn following Norwich City's penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Season ticket prices were frozen for a fifth successive year.

That in 150 or so words is a summary of the last seven days or so for us Canary fans.

Good week? Bad week? Mixed week? A microcosm of the frustrating rollercoaster ride we find ourselves strapped in to?

After the excellent victory over Bristol City and before the amazing night at Stamford Bridge, I watched an interesting podcast on the Talk Norwich City channel.

Reports of a £12m bid for James Maddison from West Ham are wide of the mark. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesReports of a £12m bid for James Maddison from West Ham are wide of the mark. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Hosts Jack Reeve and Chris Reeve, armed with carrot sticks and green pea hummus, popped round to the home of City mad TV presenter Jake Humphrey. The trio divide opinion among supporters. I enjoy listening to the views of them all as they live and breathe Canaries and care passionately about the club.

One phrase used by Jake was along the lines of we are a long way from where we want to be as Canary-ites but where we should expect to be at the moment.

With 18 games of the season to go, we are bang in the middle of the table - 12 points above the relegation zone and nine points from the play-offs. City are joint fifth in the lowest scorers rankings. The league’s most prolific marksmen Matej Vidra and Leon Clarke have between them found the net twice more than the whole Norwich team.

One or two super-positive followers thought we could be in the automatic promotion places this season. Quite a lot more felt a play off push was realistic.

Those who predicted sitting in the centre section of the second tier see saw are being proved right.

The victories at places like Ashton Gate, Bramall Lane and the Riverside have shown what can be achieved when we get it right.

Just four wins in 14 games at NR1 and only just over a goal a game at “Fortress Carrow Road” highlights the inadequacies in the squad and tactics.

The courage and flair displayed in the cup ties in North and West London were great nights out for huge numbers of travelling supporters. One led to a grim run of poor results. We must hope the proud reversal last week is not the preface to a repeat of that.

The loss of Alex Pritchard was disappointing but neither surprising nor bad business. Let’s face it, he didn’t want to stay.

Steven Naismith has never settled at Carra and it will be best for all parties that his loan move is made permanent.

I wish Russ well for the rest of the season in Scotland. I expect he’ll return to Norfolk but sense his future is more likely in a tracksuit with RM on the pocket than wearing the captain’s armband.

We’ll never forget Cam’s goal at Wembley but the time was right for him to go.

The debate rages on the willingness (or otherwise) of the Carrow Road owners to dip in to their pockets, be willing to borrow huge dosh or sell to another investor. Currently none of those options seem remotely likely.

Bringing through the likes of Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell, signing Premier League fringe lads on loan, scouting unknown overseas players and snapping up prospects from lower leagues - who all have relatively modest wage demands - is the future.

The need to sign a striker before the end of next week is so obvious I have probably wasted a line saying it.

Finding consistency, the ability to finally discover a spark at home, waking up to the demands of the Championship and moving the ball so much quicker are all musts.

Every discussion about City follows the same pattern. We have to find a way out of this footballing cul-de-sac. OTBC.

Don’t forget us season ticket holders

After the announcement of season ticket prices being frozen for a fifth year, I did a poll on Twitter.

It was far from scientific and won’t get me a job with Ipsos Mori (other market research firms are available). But it gave me an indication of the feeling among the Canary faithful – and mirrored what supporters I have chatted to are saying – 70pc said they would be renewing, while 30pc will not.

Accepting there are about 21,000 season ticket holders, that would drop to below 15,000 if 3/10ths do not renew.

I sense when it comes to it, considerably more fans will stick with City.

However, this is likely to the most sobering message to the Carrow Road board for many years.

They probably didn’t have much choice. A rise would have been completely unpalatable and they couldn’t afford a reduction.

The top brass simply have to be aware of the disquiet, especially when big savings are offered to casual supporters to get them in.

So ashamed of the way Cyrille was treated

In a few days time it will be 36 years since one of the best goals I have seen in a game involving Norwich City.

It was at the Hawthorns and was voted goal of the season for 1981/2.

West Brom striker Cyrille Regis barged his way through the Canaries’ midfield before firing an unstoppable strike past Chris Woods.

That fantastic finish has appeared on our TV screens and flashed up on social media a lot in recent days since Cyrille’s death was announced.

As well as being a great striker who displayed skill, brawn and determination, Cyrille was a trail blazer.

He made a breakthrough when attitudes to black footballers were at an appalling low.

I think back to those dark days when terraces across the country rang with racist chants and bananas were thrown on the pitch.

Things are far from perfect now but thankfully - and Cyrille deserves massive, massive credit for his part - we have moved on so far.

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