David Hannant: Some end-of-season reasons for Norwich City fans to be cheerful...ish
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 May 2018
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And so Daniel Farke's first season in charge of Norwich City - which, in effect, ended in about March - is finally actually over.
It ended, as we are all trying to forget, with the most dismal of climaxes, a 5-1 defeat littered with the kind of schoolboy errors we have sadly grown used to seeing over the past few seasons.
The inquest into why City’s season was quite so mediocre is well, well under way. Words like transition, change and work in progress have been uttered so much that - to me- they have lost all meaning.
So instead, of going into this myself, I’m going to grab the largest, longest and strongest scraping tool I can, delve deep into the barrel and start scraping for a few reasons to be cheerful. That is, aside from the glaringly obvious one that this fairly wretched season can very much be consigned to the history books.
• James Maddison
Let’s start with the obvious shining light of the otherwise murky campaign.
Throughout the campaign, Madders has been an absolute joy to watch. When he hit his stride he would just glide around the pitch and gave us more than a few moments to savour.
One of these in particular was the icing on my 30th birthday cake - the spectacular effort to seal Derby Day glory was the perfect birthday present - ta, Madders.
It’s hard to recall a season in which one player has had such an individual say on the season’s outcome. Even Darren Huckerby’s maiden campaign - which all but guaranteed promotion - can really compare - as sensational as Hucks was that year, he had a lot more going on around him than Madders had this year.
One only has to look at exactly where we would have been without the magical midfielder.
His goals alone - 15 in total - earned us 16 points. Considering three of these came in a game we lost anyway, this says a lot.
Without them, survival would only have been by the skin of our teeth - we’d have been 19th on 44 points.
And then you have his assists. These provided an additional 10 points, meaning, without James Maddison’s contributions, City would have finished the campaign rock bottom, with fewer points than even the dismal Sunderland.
So why is this a reason to be cheerful? On the surface, it’s not, however, whether he stays or goes, we have been truly lucky to see such a special talent in our ranks.
• Wes’s send-off
Speaking of special talents, thank goodness Wes Hoolahan didn’t figure on Sunday.
For all intents and purposes, his send-off was perfect in every way.
The ovation was spot on, the match went along to the script and he received the kind of farewell players of his ilk deserve - and often are robbed of.
While it is sad to see Wes go - and were it up to me, he’d still be here next season - memories of his farewell will stick with me for a long, long time.
The mere fact his final appearance in yellow and green wasn’t in an abysmal defeat away from home in a boost of sorts.
• We were never in danger
A lot has been said about how this season was a transition period, how we shouldn’t expect a great deal, etc, etc, etc.
For many teams in transition, that would probably mean an almighty relegation scrap - kind of like the one Huddersfield fought in David Wagner’s first season in charge.
The fact here is, we were never really in any actual peril or danger. The drop never really came into the equation.
Even with all the changes,it was still only really fine margins that stopped us from being in the promotion mix. For example, there were far, far too many draws - which going forward are far easier to turn into wins than defeats. Had we been able to turn eight of our 15 draws into wins, we’d have been preparing for the play-offs right about now.
There is still a fair way to go to be truly in contention, but it is perhaps not as much of an uphill battle as some may think.
• Saints get the job done
I mentioned earlier in the year that I had become a temporary Southampton supporter.
After winning the mother of all six-pointers at Swansea this week, the Saints are, but for a nine-goal swing - safe from relegation.
This, surely, increases the possibility of Harrison Reed being able to return next campaign.
Reed looked something of a rare breed this year - a loan player with the desire, commitment and work ethic of a contracted player.
If we could secure his services, even just for another year, I would be delighted.
• And last, but not least...
The season is finally over. Now let’s all relax and enjoy England fluff up another World Cup!
Top 10 of 2017/18
Given this is my final column of the season, I’ve decided to list some of my top moments of the 2017/18 campaign. It hasn’t been easy...
1. Wes’s farewell - it had to be, really. 2. Oh no! How awful,. The BBC Radio Suffolk commentary for Timm Klose’s goal against Ipswich will be replayed for decades to come.
3. Timm Klose’s goal against Ipswich in general - a draw against that lot is never a good result, but if you have to, you may as well do it in the most heartbreaking of manners. 4. Maddison against Ipswich - it was my birthday, after all. 5. Zimbo’s head-tackle against Wolves - wow! 6. Maddison’s comedy squabbling with defenders over the ball against Preston - I still think I was the only person to clock that. 7. David ‘Spud’ Thornhill’s cameo in the same game 8.Wes Hoolahan’s one word reaction to Ipswich winning on his big day.
9. Jamal’s late header against Chelsea away. 10. Josh Murphy’s stunner against Villa - what a worldy..
Thank you for reading
With this being my final column of the season, I feel it would be remiss of me not to take a brief moment to thank everybody who has taken time out of their days to read my City thoughts.
This has been my second season as a Norwich City fan columnist, having inherited it at the start of the 2016/17 campaign and I’ve really enjoyed all your feedback.
I’m sure this is true for all my fellow columnists, but I do greatly enjoy reading through your comments and responses - even those that don’t necessary agree with where I’m standing.
And this is the beautiful thing about football in general - if you’re a fan of it, you will have opinions on it, and no two are ever the exact same. This sparks debate.
So to everybody who has taken the time to read my pieces, submit a comment on the websites or write to me with regards to them, thank you. Even those who have not necessarily agreed with me, or suggested I live on Cloud Cuckoo land, thank you.