It’s fair to say that Norwich City fans are panicking a bit about the current situation. The club have enjoyed a pretty good season so far, and sit in a fairly comfortable 13th place in the Premier League table. However, the current situation is a bit of a different story with the team bottom of the form table and have lost five of their last six games.
Being January, the transfer window is also open, and fans are concerned that quality will not be added to the squad. The two things combined have resulted in a sense of panic regarding Premier League survival.
Nevertheless, these things are never as bad as they seem upon closer inspection. The English top-flight is a ruthless division and defeats for a club like Norwich are inevitable. Therefore, it’s important to be fairly level with reactions to individual results and even a longer period of good or bad form.
Earlier in the season, the club went 10 games unbeaten in a run that included historical home victories against Arsenal and Manchester United. There were times during that run when the Canaries had the third best form in the entire division. In theory, that would have meant they would have qualified for the Champions League had the run continued for the remainder of the season.
However, the levelheaded Norwich fan would have known that the squad was nowhere near that level. But it did, at least, show that there was genuine quality within the team that was able to match the best sides in the division.
It’s fair to say that smaller clubs in the Premier League with limited resources are extremely reliant on a few key players. This has certainly proved to be the case with the injury to first choice goalkeeper John Ruddy being particularly damaging. But Stephen Whittaker has also now been out injured for some time, and it’s fair to say that certain players have dropped the level that they were performing at earlier in the season.
Nevertheless, this is the league that most people consider to be the world’s best, so staying in it is never going to be an easy task. But it was a task that was managed last season under the stewardship of previous manager Paul Lambert.
This season the club has gone up to the next level with the quality that is now in the squad. Chris Hughton is a different man with different ideas, as far as he is concerned defensive stability comes first. This is a drastic change from the Lambert tenure and fans generally don’t enjoy defensive football.
But the most successful football clubs have to be built on solid foundations; this is something that Hughton has to build in Norfolk. The evidence of last Saturday’s 5-0 defeat against Liverpool showed that stability isn’t yet fully in place, especially when John Ruddy and Sebastien Bassong are not available. Once those foundations have been secured, then the Canaries can find a more expansive way of playing the game.
The thing to keep in mind is that Hughton is building towards the future. Many Norwich fans are likely hoping that the club will go on a £30million spending spree. But it’s important to remember that the Premier League is full of a few very rich clubs. However, others are relying on a relatively small amount of money.
The Canaries simply don’t have the resources of some of their rivals, so it’s important to be realistic regarding transfer window aspirations. Reading between the lines it seems that the number one target is a proven striker, but they do tend to cost the big bucks. Therefore, it remains to be seen if the club will manage to secure one. But it’s safe to assume that if they do, then there won’t be much other business done.
The recent form has been a concern, but it’s important to remember that the club have faced Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Liverpool, West Brom and West Ham in those games. It’s fair to say that none of those are easy, and with the expectation of Liverpool were all tight, close encounters.
Norwich City still have a seven-point buffer on the relegation zone, and if they can acquire a signing or two, then there will be no reason to fear relegation even for a second. So, fans should keep a bit of perspective in mind and remember that nothing is decided until May.
The expression of form being temporary, but class being permanent comes to mind here, the fact is the club have plenty of class now. The quality they have will start to shine again as the team gets back to winning ways.
Norwich may not be on the same level in quality or financial terms as some other teams in this division, but they are in the Premier League on merit. And that is certainly something fans should keep in mind before they choose to panic.