Iwan Roberts: Norwich City’s numbers game doesn’t add up

PUBLISHED: 08:28 10 July 2020

The Norwich players look dejected after conceding their sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
07/07/2020

The Norwich players look dejected after conceding their sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 07/07/2020

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

That’s five consecutive defeats now for Norwich City since the restart, and if you count the 1-0 loss against Sheffield United in their last game before lockdown that’s six losses on the spin, something the club has done only once in their Premier League history, back in April 1995.

Ben Godfrey and Norwich head coach Daniel Farke after the defeat at Watford in midweek 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdBen Godfrey and Norwich head coach Daniel Farke after the defeat at Watford in midweek Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Mind you, back then they lost seven consecutive games, which is something we all hope they can avoid tomorrow lunchtime.

Norwich finished third from bottom that season and were relegated, along with Leicester and Ipswich, but the team did win 43 points, albeit having played a 42-game season.

Since the league was cut to 20 teams, for the 1995/96 season, only three sides have been relegated with 40 points or more, the last being West Ham in 2002/03 with 42. After 34 games of that 1994/95 season the team had won 41 points, but won just one more point from their remaining eight games, a shocking run to end the season, much like the current one.

I was part of the Leicester City team that finished second from bottom in 1994/95, making a swift return to the Championship after just one season in the Premier League, which, coincidentally, was to be my last as I never got the chance to play at the top level again.

Relegation is an horrendous feeling for everyone connected with a football club, it really does hurt, even though at times people don’t think the players are down. But, trust me, they will be. No player wants a relegation on his CV.

It took me a while to get the feeling of failing out of my system, I felt that I had not only let the club and its supporters down by not scoring enough goals, but I also felt I’d let Leicester as a city down. As we all know, the economy of a city or town with a Premier League club is much richer than with a Championship club.

Back in 1995, we finished the season quite strongly, remaining unbeaten in our last three games, which was our best run of the season, with a win over bottom-placed Ipswich and draws against Chelsea and Southampton. Looking back, the end of the season couldn’t come quickly enough for us, and if I’m honest it’s how the (Norwich) lads look right now – they look down and out and I do understand how they must be feeling.

As a squad of players at Leicester we weren’t good enough, it’s that simple. We didn’t have enough Premier League quality to compete, and by mid-January we knew we needed a minor miracle as we’d won only 15 points and had the Mount Everest of mountains to climb if we were to avoid the inevitable relegation we were staring in the face.

The season before we’d won promotion via the play-offs, beating Derby in the final. We had such a close squad of players and a magnificent team spirt and togetherness, but that 94/95 season ripped those qualities from us and we were a shadow of the team that won promotion.

It’s fair to say it was a long summer for all of us, but we knew coming back for the first day of pre-season that it was a fresh start for everyone, and what had happened was in the past.

It didn’t take long for us to once again find that togetherness and team spirit, and with a lot of hard work we once again won promotion via the play-offs, beating Crystal Palace.

The point I’m trying to make is that, yes, it’s all doom and gloom at the minute for Norwich City, but Daniel Farke hasn’t all of a sudden become a bad coach. Stuart Webber hasn’t suddenly become a poor sporting director and the players haven’t become bad players overnight.

Similar to us in 94/95, they’ve struggled to make the step up from Championship football to the Premier League, but let’s hope that, come next season, they can emulate what we did in the 95/96 season and return to the top flight at the first time of asking.

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