Chris Goreham: Signs it could be fun to support City in top-flight again
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
I see Brentford won again. Norwich City’s precious Premier League point at Burnley didn’t feel quite as shiny after the Bees scored a stoppage time winner to beat West Ham on Sunday.
We should know better than to constantly compare ourselves to others.
If the relentless advance of social media has taught us anything it should be that comparison is a dangerous game. There is usually a wise quote about this sort of thing within the opening few pages of any self-help book.
Yet City’s underwhelming return to the top flight has been even more difficult to take because of how Brentford have approached things. A swashbuckling 3-3 draw with Liverpool, beating Arsenal on the opening day and now a last gasp victory at West Ham. The Premier League isn’t meant to be fun for a newly promoted team. It’s supposed to be a tough, punishing and ultimately bruising experience. Especially for a side that finished 10 points behind Norwich last season and needed to rely on the play-offs to haul themselves up.
Perhaps Brentford’s biggest advantage is that they have never done this before. It feels like some of Norwich City’s issues this season have been caused by a condition that I’m calling ‘Yo-yo Fatigue’.
It’s great that the Canaries keep finding ways of bouncing back to the big time. It would be much better if they didn’t have to but there are enough jibbering wrecks littering mid-table positions in the Championship (and even lower) to prove that City deserve plenty of credit for their ability to keep coming back for more.
This season it felt as if they were returning before the scars of their previous Premier League campaign had the chance to heal. Covid-19 meant there was barely a year between being relegated in July 2020 and kicking off again against Liverpool in August 2021.
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Brentford’s promising beginning has been reminiscent of how Paul Lambert’s 2011 version of Norwich City tackled the Premier League. By that point it had been six long years since the club had been rubbing shoulders with the best in the land. Lambert had assembled a squad of experienced pros with precious little top flight experience who approached the Premier League that season with gusto. Finally they had a chance to show what they could do and they weren’t going to have any regrets.
See also Sheffield United under Chris Wilder two seasons ago. They came up behind Norwich in 2019 but soon left in their vapour trail. The Blades finished ninth while the yellow and green yo-yo was being unfurled back down towards The Championship once more.
Last season’s record-breaking campaign didn’t feel quite as exciting as previous promotions. This was partly down to the lack of supporters and atmosphere inside grounds during the various lockdowns. There was also a nagging suspicion that Norwich City couldn’t possibly have had the time to learn all of the lessons they needed to from that dreadful run of games after project restart. Plus we were going back to the land of VAR.
The fixture list wasn’t kind to Daniel Farke in the opening weeks of the season. Even so they started like a side that lacked belief in what it was trying to do. There was a feeling that they were trying to play with the handbrake on. Any tension from the terraces about a repeat of previous mistakes felt like it was being shared on the pitch.
That’s why this point at Turf Moor was so pleasing. It meant digging in, a collective puffing out of chests and a determination not to be beaten again.
Those without the scars of previous relegations like Mathias Normann and Ozan Kabak are starting to live up to their potential. Kabak’s George Weah style run which took him the length of the pitch on Saturday was a moment to light up any game. It was amazing he had the appetite to travel that far after successive away trips to Everton and Burnley.
It was just a draw but there was enough in it to suggest that Farke might just have a squad capable of making the Premier League fun again. Maybe a battling 0-0 draw will turn out to be the perfect vaccine to protect against ‘yo-yo fatigue’.
Neil Adams has come a long way since he used to be a huge part of our Norwich City coverage on BBC Radio Norfolk.
He’s taken on another new job at Carrow Road as Stuart Webber’s assistant. Perhaps I’m being paranoid but the lengths he’s gone to in order to not be available for any commentary work are extraordinary.
It would be interesting to know whether anyone since 1902 has had more roles around the football club. Player, academy coach, commentator, phone-in host, youth team coach, first team manager, loans manager and now assistant sporting director. I make that eight different jobs within the world of Norwich City. I nearly included penalty taker as well but that might be pushing it.
Bryan Gunn, Duncan Forbes and Dave Stringer all continued their association with the Canaries long after they finished playing. Could any of them match Neil for the number of different yellow and green hats worn at Carrow Road?
There must he some who have had different jobs but never actually played for the club. From programme seller to groundsman or steward there are no end of employment opportunities that come with staging top flight football and keeping the club ticking over. If anyone can beat eight then please get in touch.
As for Neil, I’m sure he’ll make a success of this new role. Many are wondering whether it’s a stepping stone towards eventually taking over from Webber when he leaves. Nothing’s been decided yet but that would be yet another new title for us to get used to.
I hope we never get to the point where he’s so senior that we have to stop saying “Hello Neil!” whenever we see him. That’s stuck with him since the creation of Canary Call the best part of 20 years ago.