Michael Bailey: When catastrophe is averted, it is as if it was never a real threat
PUBLISHED: 06:06 03 August 2018
Norwich City correspondent and PinkUn Show host Michael Bailey tees up the Canaries’ 2018-19 EFL Championship campaign ahead of the big kick-off at Birmingham.
I’m a big believer in optimism. In opportunity. If you can visualise how to make something happen, it is precisely in your power to do it.
So when Norwich City confirmed the signing of Tim Krul, it seemed there might need to be a recalibration of the rules of engagement for the coming Championship season.
The last couple of campaigns have been tough. Following on from years of enjoying the Premier League or returning to it, the financial realities of City’s ownership model and stretched resources suddenly started to bite. Ambition couldn’t match results – and the fallout has been sizeable.
It felt like a big drum needed banging – the necessity of selling James Maddison, a £40m hole to fill, wages to cut and recruitment to really nail if City were to survive; never mind progress.
When catastrophe is averted, it is as if it was never a real threat. Fair play to the Canaries’ movers and shakers for providing a platform heading into the 2018-19 season where most are happy to feel excited about what’s next – and nowhere near fretting over the club’s perilous future.
Right now, others are wishing their club was in such a position.
So, back to Krul. Before the former Newcastle goalkeeper’s arrival, it was a landscape of sold talent and the hope new, unfamiliar faces could step in and adapt. In truth, that still rings true.
But in opting to recruit Krul – and hope Remi Matthews can prove good enough for City elsewhere – came the realisation this is not an overzealous or dogmatic new Canaries world.
Not only that. Its pragmatism came alongside proactive, aggressive and successful recruitment in beating some heavy competition to make Krul a Norwich City player.
After all, if you’re looking to rebuild your career and reputation as a goalkeeper then both the Canaries and sporting director Stuart Webber can list a few prime and pertinent examples.
There are caveats with a signing like Krul, of course.
That post-injury form we all hope for, might prove elusive.
Likewise the hunger that fuelled Jordan Rhodes’ prolific goalscoring of a few years ago, may not resurface at his first club’s arch rivals.
But you know what? That is where Norwich City are now. That is their reality. When they talk of being creative in the transfer market, it’s about doing something more than naming your favourite five players and trying to sign them just before the window closes.
The good news is even with all the sales and caveats, plenty of City supporters have high hopes for the campaign ahead – to the point where my own modest expectations have started to look positively negative.
And mine may well change if the signs look good once the real stuff begins – especially if the initial signs from Emi Buendía translate into the talent he promises to be.
As always though, these thoughts are Norwich centric – and disregard what has happened elsewhere in the Championship.
Three strong sides promoted back to the second tier from League One at the first attempt.
Three established Premier League sides relegated to the Championship that are all capable of making immediate returns to the ‘promised land’.
Then there is Middlesbrough setting the Pulis dial to 11 in their final parachute payment year, Nottingham Forest deciding to shell out everything on the ‘Wolves model’, Frank Lampard’s Derby opting against their previously threatened cost-cutting plus the stream of other wannabes that give this Championship season more intrigue and edge than any I can remember since the Premier League was formed.
What that means for the Canaries is the crucial question. Can they do something special, or will the cold realities of little money and recruitment gambles make life truly uncomfortable?
In such competitive context, any improvement on a 14th-placed finish will represent progress – that may even be City’s public feeling ahead of the new campaign.
But on the inside, on the pitch, in the dressing room and team talks, it won’t be about money or debt or reputations, pundits or predictions. Just the City players and staff, their own drive to succeed – and the fans desperate to push them there.
And so it begins. Kick it off...
• MB’s PREDICTIONS:
Norwich will finish: 9th – but my heart is desperate to up that a couple
Key player: Jordan Rhodes – Year two, Farke needs goals
Championship winners: Middlesbrough – The Pulis effect
Play-offs: Nottingham Forest, Derby, Stoke and a wildcard
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…