Paddy Davitt: The sad truth about Norwich City’s promotion

Alex Neil guided Norwich City to promotion Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil guided Norwich City to promotion Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Epic as those celebrations were after Norwich City sealed promotion to the Premier League there is also an eternal truth.

The images at the final whistle on Saturday night at Carrow Road will live long in the memory. For those fortunate enough to be present and those further afield. All that stress, all that tension gone in one blast of the referee’s whistle confirming the elevated status of Daniel Farke’s squad.

Then it was relief, it was tears and emotion. Champagne, banners, songs. Tim Krul conducting the Lower Barclay and Timm Klose live streaming on social media.

Players mingling with team mates, family and friends with backroom staff, all touring around the pitch taking the acclaim from home fans who recognised a special achievement.

But for some of those under Farke’s command this is the end of the journey. There will be a parting of the ways over the coming summer.

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For some, it will be the natural conclusion to existing contracts that will not be renewed.

For others, a return to their parent clubs with thanks and gratitude for contributions big and small. For others, an uncertain spell in their careers while those who matter at the club decide whether the gulf from the Football League to the Premier League is too large to overcome.

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Norwich needed a dressing room that was competitive at a lower level this season. But the landscape changed dramatically with this most deliciously unexpected promotion success.

For a club with youth development at heart, one that embarked on a radical overhaul to the academy - in both mindset and building materials - elevation to the top flight makes it harder for the brightest to make the same leap as a Jamal Lewis or Max Aarons.

Alex Neil is held aloft by Bradley Johnson at Wembley. Within five months he was sold. Picture: Mike

Alex Neil is held aloft by Bradley Johnson at Wembley. Within five months he was sold. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Promotion will require a recalibration and astute decisions to work out just how you bring raw talent like Adam Idah towards the fringes of a first team squad now competing against Manchester City and Liverpool.

Sentiment must be in short supply. Farke’s roster will need to be improved to stand a fighting chance of writing another wonderful chapter in the Premier League next season. Surgery will be precise and targeted.

The financial picture may have radically changed, but the mindset and philosophy, the identity forged by Stuart Webber and his key personnel, dictate this will be more evolution not revolution.

Once the guns fall silent at Aston Villa on Sunday the focus will be thrust forward. Dwelling on what has gone before is the past. The pencil outline on the provisional top flight plans can now be inked in.

There have been plenty of examples, from Norwich’s past, of this hard-headed pragmatism piercing any romantic notions.

Malky Mackay was a totemic figure in the squad that reached the Premier League in 2004.

But Mackay never played a minute in the top flight for the Canaries. Iwan Roberts scored the goals at Crewe months earlier that sealed that First Division title, after the club had already announced there would be no new contract for the popular striker.

In the Paul Lambert era, the gulf proved too big for the likes of Korey Smith, one of City’s own, who first emerged in that glorious ride from the depths of League One.

While Bradley Johnson departed after Alex Neil sanctioned a deadline day transfer move to Derby County when Johnson, more than anyone else, had hauled the Canaries out of the Championship.

One of the iconic pictures from that special day at Wembley in 2015 remains Johnson holding Neil shoulder-high at the end.

There were more spine tingling images last weekend.

But Norwich fans should savour this special group while they can, before reality bites.

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