Want a reality check? Then remember what happened 10 years ago...
- Credit: Archant
We are all in celebratory mood, right?
Norwich City are off to some of the most famous grounds in the footballing world to face some of the game's grandest and most illustrious clubs after a magnificent promotion campaign.
We are all buzzing, yes?
But please, bear with me a moment, for it is necessary to revive some bad memories just to emphasise how football can toy with your emotions, generating great highs and the lowest of lows.
It's August 8, 2019 - exactly 10 years to the day that City suffered one of their greatest humiliations. Few City fans will forget. Whether you were at Carrow Road, or following the game 'remotely' or just doing it the old-fashioned way and waiting for Final Score, the result was of proportions, seismic. Norwich City 1 Colchester United 7 (seven). When you put parentheses around a number it just emphasises the ridiculous nature of it.
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Having endured the downer of relegation to League One, there was a certain optimism around the place, fuelled, no doubt, in some part by a feeling that City were too big for English football's third tier. It wasn't an arrogant view, just a constructive assessment of the bigger picture.
Manager Bryan Gunn's assessment of their opponents confirmed that view: "They will be competitive, they will be strong, physical - we know what to expect and we have to stand up to that and hope that we win the little battles on the field and then with the help of the supporters and the play we have had during pre-season get on top of the game and take our chances when they come.
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"It's certainly a tough fixture for an opening fixture, but at the same time it is an opportunity for us to set down that marker I have talked about."
There are so many bits to pick out from those comments, but it's a tad unfair.
Gunn had been put into a tricky position, a club legend who perhaps couldn't say no to the opportunity to manage Norwich City. But in a precarious position and promotion from League One an absolute must, there was an strong element of the gamble in appointing someone with limited managerial experience.
We all know what happened next: Colchester ripped City apart. The new faces in the team didn't gel, and Michael Theoklitos had an absolute nightmare. Not helped, it has to be said, by some of his defenders.
Gunn was shell-shocked: "I'm big enough to know how unhappy the fans are and it's up to me, the coaching staff and the players to apologise and most importantly, make sure it never happens again this season. We've got 45 games now and we must make sure this never happens again. The build-up to the game was good, pre-season was excellent and fitness levels were right - now we have to start again. I'm not sure if any players have been out and apologised to the supporters and who spoke to the press - they should have done. That would have been the message I would have expected to come from them as well as me as manager."
It was tough to listen to, tough to watch.
Less than a week later, Gunn was sacked, ignominiously despatched from City's camp in the west country, left to reflect on what might have been on the train journey back to Norfolk.
Ironically, Colchester manager Paul Lambert was still tipping City for promotion: "They have the squad and the crowd base to carry them through some games. This result might just give them a fright. It was a sensational performance from everyone, but you win nothing in August, so we won't be getting carried away.
"It's what happens at the end of the season that counts."
Ten days later Lambert was in the stands at Griffin Park to watch City play Brentford: he was in charge. he took them to promotion, he was the one whose forecast about the end of the season was so obviously prescient.
Lambert's appointment was a brave one by then chief executive David McNally, who had only just got used to the seating plan in the City boardroom having been appointed two months earlier. The pair weren't exactly strangers, with their Celtic links. They proved quite a team until it all went sour three years later, but in that time they revolutionised Norwich City.
Does this last bit sound familiar? If so, it is because every club is always striving to be the best it can be. It can't stand still. It won't always be beer and skittles. There will be bad days, and there will be good days.
That's because it's a funny old game.