David Freezer: Tough time for fans and players but Canaries must show some fight
It’s not just Premier League survival prospects on the line at Carrow Road on Wednesday evening - it’s the heart and soul of Norwich City.
Victory over Everton will not come easily, even with the Toffees having 48 hours fewer to prepare for the game, but it will not simply be about points and league position.
The thousands of Canaries fans having to watch from home will expect to see a reaction and an unquestionable intent to put things right, after an abject display saw their team implode to a 3-0 loss to mid-table Southampton on home soil on Friday.
None of this is easy. Not for players, coaches, club staff or the supporters forlornly watching an empty Carrow Road. City have done their best to spread colour and motivational messages around their stadium.
There is little more that could be done to make a behind closed doors game feel more homely, yet it is not even close to the real thing. The buzz before kick-off, the roar of a goal, the full-time celebrations savoured so much last year.
Yet this is what we all must make do with for the time being, as financial necessity brings football back amid the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with everyone craving the day that normal life can return.
So when the players walk back out on that pitch, they should walk with purpose, stand tall and puff out chests in determination to do those City supporters proud.
Lose and things could start to unravel. Relegation would be all but certain. That is not a disaster in itself, all inside and outside of Carrow Road knew that financial limits meant that was a strong possibility this season.
However, showing that the spirit of 2018-19 still exists, in spite of the cruel injury blows which have so checked momentum, will be crucial to keeping the long-term project of Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber on track.
There is so much that fans can still be proud of at Norwich City but if the club is to head back to the Championship with legitimate hopes of it all being part of a grand plan which will eventually bring Premier League stability, they must go down with heads held high, still trying to defy the odds.
So much brilliant progress was made but the next phase of this City era is imminent. Retaining reasons for hope will be crucial to how that starts to unfold.