Ian Clarke: What the Modfather and the Magpies taught me about City
- Credit: Matt Wilkinson/Focus Images Ltd
So we come to the end of a ridiculous enforced three-week break from Norwich City action.
Such is the fragmented nature of the Premier League, the season has been a bizarre mish-mash of long periods without games and then spells with lots of matches together.
Is that any excuse for the Canaries' poor showing this campaign? No. But it's another example of why our game needs reviewing in so many ways.
By the time we kick off against Brighton on Saturday, it will be 20 days since that gut-wrenching defeat at Leeds.
In that period, City legend and fellow columnist Iwan Roberts wrote that Dean Smith's men can pull off the seemingly impossible great escape.
I love the big man and his optimism.
What he wrote about the essential attribute of belief is absolutely spot on and mirrored comments in an excellent interview my colleagues had with former winger Elliott Bennett.
- 1 Norwich City unveil their new home kit
- 2 City's first home game selected for TV coverage
- 3 'Seriously special' - City fans rave over new home kit
- 4 City gem Aarons advised not to follow the money
- 5 Neil hones in on City Championship reunion
- 6 New Norwich City deal will allow pre-match Carrow Road light shows
- 7 Teemu Pukki's future: The inside track from Finland
- 8 Chris Sutton: The City trio who need to perform in pre-season
- 9 'Teemu has a desire to play as high as possible' - Pukki's agent on City future
- 10 City announce academy pre-season schedule
He said that was the cornerstone of the team's ability to survive in the top flight.
That squad wasn't built on big money signings - it was based on belief.
Sadly, I think the gap of eight points from safety (realistically nine if you count our woeful goal difference) is far too big a mountain to climb.
The team heads to the South Coast on the back of six straight defeats and that B word just hasn't been there.
So while I've been kicking my yellow and green trainers with no games to watch, I've filled my time with other pursuits.
And two events I attended got me pondering more on the current plight at Carrow Road - and the issues with top flight football generally.
Last week I made an all too rare a visit to Aldiss Park to see my home town club Dereham Town in action.
In case you don't follow the fortunes of the Magpies, they are now just two points off the play-offs in the Isthmian League North.
That's a truly fantastic achievement by Adam Gusterson's men.
Whenever I go to see the lads, I always come away thinking I should go more.
I love the fact you can wander around the ground before, during and after the match and have a good old chat with the regulars.
You're close to the action. You can have a word with the players as they come off at half time and at the end. There's a real sense of feeling part of it.
Non-league football has a delightful simplicity which has ebbed away from the top of the pyramid.
While I take no pleasure at all in facing the seemingly inevitable relegation, which is looming for City, I know that being back in the Championship will mean much more competitiveness, where broadly everyone can beat everyone (something similar to the division the Magpies are in).
Increasingly, the phenomenal riches of the Premier League are taking that away.
Another night of this spring break was taken with the delight of again seeing the Modfather Paul Weller at the UEA.
At 63, he remains at the top of his game and banged out a fantastic two-hour set.
It's probably the way my mind works, but the titles of many Jam/Style Council/Weller solo songs (both those he played on Sunday and others from his 45-year career) have a link to the Canaries' current woes.
That's Entertainment - Mmmmmm. How many times have we been really entertained and got off our seats this season?
What You Give Is What You Get - Ok, I'm using a bit of poetic licence here, but a poor summer of recruitment means one thing.
Shout To The Top - Now that's just taking the mickey!
You're The Best Thing - That got me pondering on the highlights of the season and player of the season candidates. Not easy...
Walls Come Tumbling Down - Regular readers of this column will know I'm a pretty positive fan. I don't share the views of some doom-mongers that everything is going to fall apart at Carra. But the slide has to be halted. Belief must return. Smiles must be put back on faces.
My Ever Changing Moods - Need I say more as a City supporter?
And then there's Into Tomorrow....
If you're reading this on the eve of the Brighton game, it has a literal meaning.
We've got to see all the words which have been spoken by staff and players during the past three weeks about not giving up turned into a tangible result.
"Tomorrow" can also be a term to describe the next chapter in City's history.
The lessons of the past year simply have to be learned from.
Serious decisions have to be made about the ownership model, investment and sustainability.
Players have to be brought through the ranks and bought in who can get the club to a position where it can seriously compete at football's top table.
We need to see style, swagger, bouncebackability, belief and togetherness back.
Carrow Road must return to being a fortress and not a place where it's too easy to come and pick up points.
Fans must be excited about going to games and not considering how else they can use their time and money.
And when we go behind in matches, there can't be the depressing inevitability that the result is a foregone conclusion.