Robin Sainty: Three options for Norwich City’s way forward


06:00 7 May 2022

There have been a lot of articles and columns covering what went wrong this season and identifying various people as the main culprits, so I don’t see the point of going into that same ground.

I’m not going to comment on the game at Villa Park because I wasn’t there. Normally a trip to Villa would be one of the first away trips I aim for when the matches are out, but in all honesty I couldn’t get the excitement going, such is my feeling of disconnection from this team of City.

Instead, I granted my nine-year-old grandson’s request to take him to his first ‘real’ game at King’s Lynn and thoroughly enjoyed some decent non-league football without the anxiety of to see City capitulate away from home this season.

It has been a truly miserable time and it will be a tough summer as City prepare for another Championship tilt. At present, there is a lot of anger and there is no lack of revisionism, especially with regard to Daniel Farke.

Although I liked the man, the loss of identity reported by most commentators began on his watch, with the disastrous system change that led to a series of pitiful displays that came to a head at Stamford Bridge.

I will be forever grateful for the wonderful winning seasons he gave us, but he wouldn’t have had as long as he did given the dismal start to the season at any other club.

It seems to me there was a collective loss of nerve early on from which the club never recovered, and even off the pitch there was no real sense of the conviction with which City approached the start of the 2019/20 season.

So where do we go from here? Basically, there are three possibilities.

The first is that someone exercises the option offered since 2010 to ask the board to issue up to 1,000,000 new shares and thus become the new majority shareholder. I think this is unlikely, not because I believe the council would stand in the way of a suitable candidate (and such a rebuff would inevitably become public) but because I don’t believe such a candidate currently exists.

The second option is the possible attraction of new investment into the current ownership model, perhaps including a degree of controlled borrowing, although this is a potentially dangerous path to take given how debts have almost sank the club in 2009 and again in 2018.

However, the final and most likely option is to continue with the self-funding model, but that would clearly need to be reconsidered in light of this season’s failures.

What strikes me is that City seem to have moved away from creating hungry players with a point to prove at the heart of their recruitment. The squad two seasons ago might not have been as technically talented as the current crop, but they fought harder, at least until the pandemic hit and the exclusion of fans from the grounds.

Andrew Omobamidele has missed much of the season but is expected to play a major role in Dean Smith’s plans
– Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

What is positive is that there are good young people at the club, including Andrew Obamidele, Jonathan Rowe, Adam Idah among others, but they will need the right type of players around them, players with times of experience and the right attitude.

With that in mind, it might also be worth putting more emphasis on players who have grown up in the UK game, especially considering how much the likes of Milot Rashica (whose agent appears to be starting the escape hatch) and Christos Tzolis made the transition from European football.

However, what really concerns fans more than anything is that during the Farke era there was a clear and understandable plan in place and a football identity that united them and the players against the world, but I fear now it’s become more One City Wrong than One City Strong.


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