Paddy Davitt verdict: I'll have a P please City

Dimitris Giannoulis was sent off for this challenge on Ben Pearson in Norwich City's 3-1 Championship defeat to Bournemouth 

Dimitris Giannoulis was sent off for this challenge on Ben Pearson in Norwich City's 3-1 Championship defeat to Bournemouth - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

In a season unlike any other for Norwich City why would the climax be routine? 

Promoted in the afternoon, defeated in the evening. Joy, despair, joy again. Or as joyous as a feat that ranks alongside any achieved by this club can be without supporters inside Carrow Road. 

A few made their presence felt outside. A fact acknowledged by the owners as they left the ground. A banner draped over one of the flats that overlook the South Stand evoked memories of Delia Smith’s famous phrase from a faraway Premier League era.

A banner on the flats outside Norwich City's stadium ahead of Bournemouth's visit

A banner on the flats outside Norwich City's stadium ahead of Bournemouth's visit - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The woman herself took the applause, and led the singing with a small pocket of fans - from an appropriate social distance. 

That is the world we all live in now. That is the caveat we strive to live our lives by. One where interaction is virtual rather than physical, for the most part. Where technology can provide a bridge but will never replace the shared feeling of a throaty rendition of ‘On the Ball, City’ and limbs in the Barclay. 

Delia led a vocal tribute to Emi Buendia’s brilliance. It was unprompted. It was unscripted. This was for her, this was for them, this was for everyone with an affinity to the football club. 

Bournemouth’s second half comeback proved the briefest of distractions to the business of heralding Norwich’s promotion. In the final analysis the Cherries’ Championship double is a mere statistic. The manner of Dimitris Giannoulis’ game-changing early red card irked Daniel Farke, but not enough to sour the celebrations at the final whistle. It was immaterial in the bigger picture. 

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The ‘P’ in brackets is next to Norwich City’s name in the Championship table.

Bournemouth crave the same. So too Watford, Brentford, Swansea and the rest. But there is only one team who have shown the consistency, the quality and the obduracy to get over the line this far from home.  

What unfolded at Carrow Road was an exercise in frustration. A rare sensation in a season of triumph. 

To lose for the first time on home soil since Derby County’s smash-and-grab on October 3 2020 says it all. City’s consistency and relentless thirst for wins, clean sheets and points has set them apart. 

Bournemouth look to be coming on strong but it needed further managerial change, and even then, some serious introspection, one suspects. Likewise for Watford, who have built a strategy around a serial turnover in the dugout. Norwich have done this by embracing continuity, and trusting the process.  

Canny recruitment, retaining their key players and some nuanced changes to how Farke has set up this vintage proved an irresistible formula. Norwich will return to the Premier League a better team on and off the pitch.  

If you are Farke, and Stuart Webber, the planning for the Premier League can accelerate. City fans should prepare for a frenetic summer. Norwich will be busy. There is a squad to tweak and the funds to do so to a degree previously denied a double act who may now rightfully deserve to be held in the same esteem as Stringer and Forbes, Mackay and Fleming, Holt and Hoolahan, or Norwich and East Anglian derby dominance.  

Land the title as soon as Tuesday, with victory over Watford, and it is fresh affirmation a bold course charted in 2017 was the right one.

Its robustness has weathered not only the fallout from the end of a previous parachute payments cycle, but a revolution to the playing roster, a huge infrastructure programme at Colney, and in the past 12 months alone the financial hit due to the pandemic.  

But there is one facet beyond even the alchemist’s touch of Farke or Webber. 

The enduring sadness of this season comes from fans unable to witness the sights and the sounds, the smells and the electrical charge from a rocking Carrow Road; bar those few test events, which carried hope for more but in the end proved out of reach for government, public health bodies and the football authorities. 

One or two lone voices were audible outside Carrow Road in the first half. A small burst of fireworks erupted in the closing stages before Delia addressed her small choir.  

For the overwhelming majority this latest promotion was savoured remotely. When they return next season they will watch the green and yellow mixing it with the elite.

That deserves to be the enduring memory from a day, a night and a season when it was very definitely mission accomplished. 

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