Norwich City can look forward to another season in the Premier League
PUBLISHED: 17:10 25 March 2012 | UPDATED: 09:50 26 March 2012
So that's that then. Job done. We can look forward to another season in the Premier League. As Grant Holt's Messi-esque goal pushed us over the finishing line with weeks to spare, we had followed the pattern of recent years, and exceeded expectations yet again.
Three years ago next month I stood at the Valley watching my team being relegated to the third tier of football. I can remember that it wasn’t altogether a surprise. We had become used to failure. In fact my friend Graham Last dressed up as an undertaker for the day (pictured), so predictable was the outcome of this crucial match.
City sadly fulfilled our pessimism and slipped out of a division at the bottom which we had all at one time expected to leave by the top end. Oh to have had a crystal ball that day and gone to the bookies. I wonder what odds you would have got if you’d asked to place a bet that three years on City would have consolidated their place in the Premier League.
In each subsequent season since we have exceeded what every one of us would have taken at the start. Let’s look at League One. Most of us would have settled for a quick return via the playoffs, Leeds were soon picked off and City ended up champions by a mile. Consolidation in the Championship was the next goal. This soon turned into a tilt at the lottery of the play offs, and soon became automatic promotion.
So then to this season. Not getting relegated was the target. In fact, City have spent most of it flirting with mid table. We have had such an unbelievable ride, that sometimes you have to just stop and pinch yourself. There isn’t a football fan in the country who wouldn’t have swapped places with us. We have almost become blasé about the whole thing and even become slightly glum in recent weeks because we haven’t been fed on our usual diet of victories. The Wolves game marked the end of of what is the nearest City have come to a slump since Paul Lambert has been here.
Since we recorded that hugely impressive win at Swansea (especially in the light of what they have achieved since) we have lost against Stoke and Manchester United, Newcastle and Leicester, and drawn against Wigan. I suppose it is a measure of how far we’ve come that we the fans reacted like this. But looking at each of those fixtures individually I think we shouldn’t be altogether despondent. Before the start of the season I think most fans would have expected to get beaten by Manchester United side that up till this season has regularly reached the latter stages of the Champion’s League, and Newcastle at St James Park (I know!). Stoke’s direct physical style was always going to be a test of a side fresh from the Championship and anyone who has been supporting City for several years, wouldn’t have been surprised to see us humbled in the FA Cup by a team from the lower leagues. Wigan are fighting for their lives and from my experience of watching the strugglers are the pick of the relegation candidates, and have now won at Anfield.
So while I did even hear the ‘relegation’ word mentioned at one time, it never bothered me. Why? Because in the midst of this ‘blip’ Paul Lambert who flatly refused to use the ‘P’ word until the ‘R’ word was an impossibility during the last two seasons, came out and said ‘City won’t go down’.
And that was good enough for me.