David Hannant: How City have become the Premier League punch line

The traveling Norwich fans pretend they’ve scored a goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst

The travelling Norwich fans resorted to pretending we'd scored a goal at Selhurst Park! - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I love a good joke as much as the next person - unless perhaps that person is my column buddy Ian Clarke.

I even like to think that I can take a joke at my own expense, or even at the expense of my beloved Canaries.

However, there truly is only so much a man can take and I'm near enough at the end of my tether.

I can deal with gallows humour, self-mockery and Along Come Norwichisms, but we are now at a point where the mocking eyes honed in our direction are not merely our own.

In recent times, with the exception of repeating that famous Delia Smith rant, the name Norwich City barely passed the lips - or perhaps more accurately fingertips - of anyone outside of Norfolk or Suffolk.

Now, though, everywhere I seem to look on social media, the wider footballing community is laughing at our expense.

Whether it is drawing comparisons between ourselves and that awful Derby side, riffing on our December goal of the month choices or, for the 9,000,000th time harking back to that Delia rant, in the eyes of the world, Norwich City is a joke.

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And to draw from the song catalogue of one of my favourite bands, The Smiths quite fittingly, that joke isn't funny anymore.

When things reach a point where supporters of Ipswich Town, lowly, League One, mid-table no-hopers Ipswich Town, are laughing at our expense, there is no escaping how bad things have got.

Last time out in the Premier League, I maintain there was mitigation. The inability to invest financially, Covid disruption and injury crisis after injury crisis all contributed to our meek downfall.

This time, I see no excuses whatsoever for the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in.

Yes, we lost massively important players, no more so than Emi Buendia and Oliver Skipp, but the purse strings were loosened to a degree they never have been before.

I have no doubt at all that Stuart Webber must be regretting his remarks about guns, grenades and bazookas and hindsight is a fine thing - but it is clear now the recruitment over the summer was the dampest of squibs.

It speaks volumes to me that Matthias Normann, easily the most impressive of the new signings, is now facing a long lay-off after having surgery for a long-standing injury that surely had to have shown up on his medical.

In the past, I may well have put this down to rotten luck, but I've seen this happen so many times over the years with Norwich City. When the same piece of bad luck happens over and over again, you have to wonder whether it stops being bad luck and starts being poor judgment.

Clearly, it is frustrating that there is such crippling financial inequality between ourselves and the rest of the league, which probably means we have to make these types of gambles, but we just end up on the wrong end of these gambles too often.

It is also frustrating that so much of our outlay this summer has been on potential.

Don't get me wrong, investing in potential is something we've always been great at - digging out James Maddison on deadline day all those years ago is a prime example of this.

But it has to be done proportionately to investing in the here and now - and this just hasn't happened.

Webber was quick to point out that Christos Tzoilis was not signed to tear up trees this season - yet he was among the most expensive arrivals.

If you have a starving family, planting vegetables to make sure you have a sustainable food supply for years to come is obviously shrewd - but not if said family has perished to the bone by the time the first harvest arrives.

It is abundantly clear to see that the squad we have is just not good enough for this level - Daniel Farke, one of the best coaches in the club's history, couldn't get a tune out of it and after a promising start, neither, it seems, can Dean Smith.

And unlike last time, I don't think any blame can be placed on Covid disruption or injuries.

Yes, we have had both of these things, but show me a club that hasn't this campaign? 

Two seasons ago, I doubt a single club had more injuries to deal with than Norwich City.

This time, everybody is in the exact same boat and we're finding ourselves rolled over by a Crystal Palace side without their two most stand-out players.

Unless something truly astonishing happens, we once again find ourselves sleepwalking back to the Championship.

Something I'm seeing written increasingly often these days is that, as a league, the Premier League is a joke - and the flaws of England's top flight are many and can wait for another column.

But reader, there are no excuses and there is no escaping this - if the Premier League is in fact a joke, at the minute, we are the punch line.

Time for Max to move on

Max Aarons of Norwich, Todd Cantwell of Norwich and Tim Krul of Norwich with the EFL Championship tr

The future of Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell will impact what Norwich City can do in January.

An interesting debate that has come up in recent weeks is whether the time is now right to cash in on Max Aarons - if he indeed still has suitors.

For me, I think it is probably the right time for everybody on that front.

Despite wild speculation and impasses from some of the biggest names in the game, Max Aarons has always been a consummate professional for Norwich City - fair play to him.

But clearly if we are to stand any hope whatsoever of staying up, we need new blood and we need it soon.

It is therefore clear that Max needs to finally get his move to generate enough cash to do that - as probably our only high-value sellable asset.

As good as he is too, his position is one we do have other options in, whether that is the returning Sam Bryam, Bali Mumba or Brandon Williams. 

If it means we can strengthen in weaker areas, the time is right to cash in and thank Max for his loyalty and efforts over the years.