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Paddy Davitt: Death, taxes...and clap banners

PUBLISHED: 14:57 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:57 15 January 2020

Jonny Howson sealed a big win for Norwich City back in 2013 in another pivotal relegation battle against West Brom Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson sealed a big win for Norwich City back in 2013 in another pivotal relegation battle against West Brom Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Death, taxes and a must-win Premier League relegation battle for Norwich City.

Sadly the first two are inevitable, and seasoned watchers of the Canaries in the English top flight over recent seasons might contend the third is as well.

So it comes to pass with the visit of Bournemouth to Carrow Road this Saturday.

It might be mid-January but it also might be curtains should a team one place above Daniel Farke's 'basement boys' - as they were unflatteringly referred to earlier this week on Hoffenheim's official twitter feed confirming Lukas Rupp's move - muster a victory like Aston Villa, Watford and Southampton have before them.

Eddie Howe has had to deal with questions about his future going into this weekend, following a wretched run of four points from 33 plunged a new low with Watford's 3-0 win on the south-coast.

If Howe leaves Norfolk emboldened then Farke's 'little miracle' to buck the odds looks a forlorn hope.

It is not even about the fact there is more than enough games and points available after this weekend to engineer the greatest of great escapes. It is the feeling, the sense of doom that will engulf the majority of those inside the stadium.

Alex Neil troops around the pitch at Carrow Road after relegation had been confirmed in 2016 despite beating Watford 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdAlex Neil troops around the pitch at Carrow Road after relegation had been confirmed in 2016 despite beating Watford Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

To lose to another direct rival would surely test even the most optimistic Norwich City fan. But we have been here before.

Cast your mind back to 2005 and a torturous final day trip to Fulham.

Perhaps not.

Fast forward to 2013 then, when this organisation partnered with the football club to produce those infernal 'clap banners' - the perfect advertisement for the mute button.

Nevertheless it had the required effect. Late season wins over Reading and West Brom - Jonny Howson's thunderbolt and all - backed by a cacophony of noise hauled Chris Hughton's squad over the line.

Alas, history did not repeat itself the following season. Ironically West Brom's next visit was Hughton's last in charge. The images of the same clap banners, littering the vicinity of the home technical area to the bemusement of Baggies' chief Pepe Mel, was one of the abiding images of Hughton's hurrah.

Robert Green cuts a dejected figure after Norwich concede a sixth at Fulham on the final day of the 2005 Premier League season Picture: Rebecca Naden/PARobert Green cuts a dejected figure after Norwich concede a sixth at Fulham on the final day of the 2005 Premier League season Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA

Alex Neil had Sunderland at home in 2016, when a win would have moved them seven points clear of Sam Allardyce's relegation-haunted Black Cats.

But it was the visitors who triumphed, and City would not earn another point before demotion had effectively been sealed in the final Carrow Road league fixture against Watford.

The sad, slow trudge around the pitch that night, led by Neil and his players, proved a truly humbling moment for the Scot. He felt then, as he still does now when pressed on the topic, he had let down those fans and betrayed the trust placed in him by the club's owners.

There was another symbolic gesture between those who lead and those who follow at Old Trafford last weekend.

It might not have held anywhere near the same ramifications but it did underline again how important the fans are in the grand scheme of things.

Despite one of their poorest offerings in recent weeks there was no criticism, no berating those who had limply carried the colours into battle. Norwich's players and their head coach were applauded from the field.

Grant Holt is mobbed after notching the second in a priceless 4-0 win against West Brom in 2013 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdGrant Holt is mobbed after notching the second in a priceless 4-0 win against West Brom in 2013 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There was even one or two quizzical looks from the pitch to those in the stands at the warmth of the reaction. Both Farke and Christoph Zimmermann felt compelled to reference this episode in their post-match media duties.

Farke himself had turned for the tunnel but was moved to stop and acknowledge a second wave of acclaim as he clasped his fist to his chest.

So we have been here before.

There will be no clap banners this weekend but Norwich fans know what is required. So too does Farke and his troops - whatever they do to take the heat of the significance of this duel in the coming days.

The endless debates fanned on social media about the whys and wherefores of Norwich's Premier League approach this time around, the spending of money or the lack of, the charges of no ambition jarring with cold pragmatism, can all wait for another day.

At Carrow Road this Saturday afternoon, in this latest struggle to beat the drop, it needs Farke, his players and those fans on the same page.

Then let's see what Bournemouth have in response.


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