Robin Sainty; It’s a story of cheques and balances for Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 August 2020

Jamal Lewis has benefited from Norwich's faith in young talent 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jamal Lewis has benefited from Norwich's faith in young talent Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

I hardly think the world needs yet another post-mortem on City’s relegation, so let’s look ahead to next season.

Clearly we will see a different City squad as the high level of activity in the transfer market indicates, and hopefully this summer’s recruitment will find a better balance between physicality and the ability to play the sort of flowing football that had all us reaching for the superlatives little over a year ago.

While we have to accept how far the squad fell short in the Premier League, let’s not forget how stunning the football was that got them there, and how much everyone felt united behind Daniel Farke and his style of play. Sadly, that unity has fragmented as the losses have piled up and scapegoats have been sought, with some of the personal abuse aimed at players on social media passing well beyond the bounds of acceptability, and we need to get it back.

From a recruitment point of view, it’s important that while lessons are learnt from this season, the baby isn’t thrown out with the bathwater and a style of play that was so exhilarating at times in the Championship and early this season isn’t lost in the effort to find bigger and stronger players.

I’ve heard a few moans this week about the continuing policy of bringing in young talent, like Sebastian Soto, Bali Mumba and Matthew Dennis, but it’s exactly that policy that resulted in the likes of Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and James Maddison becoming such valuable assets.

Ben Godfrey - a Premier League regular and an example of Norwich's investment in youth Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdBen Godfrey - a Premier League regular and an example of Norwich's investment in youth Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Allied to that is the heavy investment into upgrading Colney, because the fact that City can now boast a state of the art training centre and Academy is instrumental not just in attracting young players, but also those who are already at first team level, with more signings expected.

As one of the financially strongest clubs in next season’s Championship, an inevitable favourite for promotion and with the training facilities that are now available, City will be a much more attractive proposition for transfer targets than as the penniless club that had just sold its best player simply to survive in summer 2018, or the relegation favourite this season.

That, of course, guarantees nothing at all, but it is a healthy situation to be in when compared to the likes of Bournemouth who, according to an article elsewhere this week have a wage bill of £111m with no relegation clauses and owe £81m in structured payments on past purchases. Of course, Martin Samuel probably thinks they’re marvellously well run...

The self-funding model does mean that City will continue to develop and sell talent, but with a sound financial base those transfers will only be done at prices that suit the club, not as a fire sale, and is it really such a bad policy if it means that the squad becomes incrementally stronger as higher transfer fees with more reinvested into the playing budget allows the club to attract better players?

The football world has been rocked by the pandemic which has exposed the dangers of short-term thinking and shown how much of a financial tightrope many clubs have been walking, so I for one am happy to support one that aims to build sensibly and sustainably.

What’s more, City’s level of engagement with fans is the envy of many bigger clubs, something further illustrated by this week’s online Trust event with Ben Kensell and Stuart Webber as they talked candidly about what has gone wrong this season and the plans in place to put it right next.

I think we all need a break after what has been a pretty torrid season, but I’m already looking forward to the next one, so for now I’d just like to thank everyone who has read and commented on the column this season and I’ll hopefully see you again in September!

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