Paddy Davitt: This is not the end. This is the beginning for soaring Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
A game for the ages. A season for the ages. The Premier League is lucky to have Norwich City.
You can be sure there will be those who sneer at the elevation of an unfashionable club, stuck out in the East of England, who broke from the pack and decided to do it another way.
There may even be some jealousy and resentment from Championship rivals (for now) who must be scratching their heads at this football engineering.
No words are too sugary. No plaudits too undeserving to try and frame a feat that defies all logical explanation.
Under the same management and the same sporting director, the Canaries finished last season in 14th place.
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Two spots below their bitter East Anglian rivals. Then out of financial necessity they had to sell James Maddison and Josh Murphy; the very creative fulcrum of a side that had listed badly down the stretch.
The mood music was restless. The omens did not look good.
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But City’s hierarchy stuck true to the course set when Alex Neil had departed. That was a break from the past. That was the point of no return. The old tried and trusted formula was no longer sufficient.
City needed to think up radical new solutions. Boldness and bravery were plentiful. Financial resources and, seemingly, the quality to compete at the top end of the second tier rationed.
There is no one simple solution to explain what has transpired this season.
It is not solely astute recruitment. Or a faith in developing young talent. Or even the man management and coaching ability of Daniel Farke and his backroom team. It is all those things and more.
But when you strip it right back, the seeds of what flowered go back to that sea change in how Norwich City strived to meet the demands of competing at the right end of the English game.
Then a refusal to buckle to the pressure for change, when the speed of progress proved maddeningly frustrating.
The assured Webber has since publicly acknowledged under a different regime in a different era both himself and Farke could have been shown the door.
Amongst all the showreel of thrilling highlights, goals and late drama that will form lasting memories it is worth remembering the state of play when Farke took his side to Portman Road, back in early September.
Norwich pitched up in a febrile Suffolk to face an expectant Ipswich under new boss Paul Hurst, looking to claim a long overdue scalp.
The visitors sat in 20th place; two points and four places above the Blues. Things looked very bleak when Ipswich surged in front. But Moritz Leitner replied and a draw appeared to send these neighbours spinning on a different axis.
That was the day Max Aarons made his league debut.
The day when Ben Godfrey was pitched into the centre of defence for the first time in serious combat. And the day Tim Krul probably gazed across to another starlet in Jamal Lewis and questioned the wisdom of agreeing to clamber aboard this journey of discovery behind such a youthful backline.
That is how difficult the terrain was. To look back now, with a place in the Premier League secured and within a point of claiming the league title at Aston Villa this coming Sunday, is to appreciate the epic scale of this achievement.
Time will need to pass before it can be placed in a fitting historical context. Before the plunder of Teemu Pukki, the artistry of Emi Buendia or the sheer force of will that is Marco Stiepermann can be analysed, dissected and savoured in stories passed down through families.
To be at Carrow Road on Saturday night, to watch the drama unfold, felt like an ‘I was there’ moment.
To produce such a polished, mature, composed display when the pressure and the expectancy was at its height, after four spirited draws and a late surge from Sheffield United, is a testament to the house Stuart and Daniel have built.
There was no hint this group of young men were enveloped by the occasion. Blackburn were set about with a savage intent. The only frustration was the manner of their first half reply and the failure to embellish a margin of victory that would avoid a tense final quarter.
But once the clocked ticked beyond the 90 minute mark the chant went up: ‘We are Premier League’. And so they are. And what a credit they will be.
This is not the end of the story. This can be the start of something spectacular, if those making the decisions harness the full potential on offer.
The carousel is not about to stop spinning anytime soon.