The one road no one wants to see Norwich City head down
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images
As City fans piled out of Carrow Road following goalless draw number three from their last five Premier League games, the search for context was on.
And not necessarily the good sort. One post-Saturday tweet I received made clear one City fan’s fret the team they support is in freefall and destined for the Championship.
On the weekend’s pinkun.com Norwich City podcast, the 1994-95 relegation-inducing record of one win in City’s last 20 games was brought up – a record one regular poster on our match coverage likes to point out each week.
The fact the poster’s moniker is ‘Glenn Roeder’ amuses as many people as it frustrates.
As things stand, City’s recent football hasn’t been great and genuinely good chances have come at a premium, as City make it feel like they are ticking off the points while taking on minimal risk.
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But let’s not kid ourselves. Survival was always the sole aim of this season – a target supposedly much harder, given it’s the Canaries’ second stab at it.
Possibly at this point, City are paying the price for their meteoric rise in the first place.
- 1 Farke linked with Bundesliga vacancy
- 2 Transfer rumour: Everton unsure about price tag for City star
- 3 Paddy Davitt: 'Little old Norwich' tag is a poor fit
- 4 'We want to stop the party' - Cherries fired up for City clash
- 5 Pompey boss praises 'perfect model' at Norwich City
- 6 Ian Clarke: Seven reasons why Norwich City will survive in top flight
- 7 City confirm fans will not return to Carrow Road this season
- 8 'Auld Enemy' clash on the backburner for City captain
- 9 'Like a shield' - Canaries boss heaps praise on Webber's work
- 10 Farke's dilemma with City prodigies
Rather like terrified economists trying to deal with boom and bust, it took City falling to their lowest ebb of modern times to inspire the rocket-fuelled propulsion straight through the Championship minefield and on to Premier League survival.
As enthralling and blissfully glorious as City’s rise was, it was inherently built on the flimsy platform of one man and his management team.
Chris Hughton’s role as Mr Stabiliser is nowhere near as exciting or glamorous. But long term, it is arguably more essential.
Take a look at the teams City were promoted with.
The fact QPR survived their top-flight return was a football miracle. It took them five wins from their final 10 games to engineer a second season of riches – and only then by a single point. This year, they have almost certainly run out of time already.
And Swansea? Well much has been said of their brush with non-league football less than a decade ago, and that rise is a true marvel. But it is also a steady, developed growth – one that has seamlessly transfered them into a class Premier League act.
It is the Swans’ solid foundation – supported by gradual building on top – that puts them ahead of the Canaries’ own progression. That is to be expected.
In 2009-10 it was Newcastle, West Brom and Blackpool joining the elite from the Championship.
The season before it was Wolves, Birmingham and Burnley; come 2008, Stoke, West Brom (again) and Hull were gearing for the top flight.
Of the 12 relegations in that period – two teams have made a successful return, while seven have never been back. And this season, Wolves and Birmingham are far more likely to be relegated again than enjoy a successful play-off bid.
Do you go to football to be entertained and inspired? Partly. But surely first comes supporting your club. The survival line is likely to be 36 points this season, meaning three wins would easily deliver City’s primary target.
That is the context City are dealing with. And in reality, it’s the only one that matters.