Ian Clarke: Money talks... but it's not the only answer for Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 07:54 19 April 2018
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It's been a long time since the final three games of a season have meant so little to Norwich fans.
I guess for some there may be a bit of an incentive to stop Alex Neil’s Preston pushing into the promotion mix (although in the same way that elsewhere in this column I wish John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett all the best, I have no grudge to bear against AN).
The final home game with Leeds may be the last chance to see some players who have become real favourites at NR1.
Then what about a mid table dead rubber at Sheffield Wednesday on a Sunday lunchtime on a bank holiday weekend...? Exactly.
I’m sure the vast majority of Canary followers are firmly looking towards next season rather than having any particular thoughts about the denouement of this campaign.
I’m not going to waste any column inches discussing the need for a new striker.
If I had a pound for every conversation I’d had about that, I could probably lure Mo Salah to Carra.
As ever, fans will be calling for big money to be thrown at bringing in the players who can push City towards a better shot at a promotion push.
Those demands will be met with sobering warnings from the City top brass that such extravagance is not possible. In fact even more belt tightening needs to be made.
The safety net of parachute payments has now been pulled away from the Canaries.
By all accounts that leaves a £20m black hole in the kitty.
Most of us assume that will be tackled by cashing in on the likes of James Maddison and Josh Murphy.
If that happens - and if Angus Gunn, Moritz Leitner and Harrison Reed can’t be persuaded to renew their loans - it’s going to make next term a tough one.
Assuming the current Premier League bottom three come down, that will mean a trio of very well established top flight clubs (armed with their tens of millions of pounds in compensation for failure) will be in the Championship.
Remember it is 10 years since Stoke were last out of the top league, while West Brom haven’t been relegated for eight years and Southampton have been among English football’s elite for six years.
If they can maintain their core squads and persuade their stars to give it a go to get straight back, they will take some beating.
Maybe, though, they will get a shock at life in the very competitive Championship.
Look at how Sunderland and Hull have fared this year.
There’s no doubt that Daniel Farke has found it hard to adjust.
He must have learned a huge amount during his first year in the English game. I feel he has still got a lot more to come to terms with.
I’ve been thinking back to the players who have really made a difference to Norwich City in recent years,
Iwan, Hucks, Malky, Holty, Wes, Flem, Drury, Madders and Hanley. I could go on.
Think of that 2003/4 promotion season when the back five of Green, Malky, Flem, Drury and Edworthy only missed nine league games between them.
How many of those lads I’ve mentioned cost really big money?
What they had (and still have in some cases) is an understanding of our club, showing immense character, bonding with the yellow and green army and being shining lights in their respective roles.
Aston Villa are way ahead in a table of net spending among Championship clubs over the last five seasons. Yes, they are in the mix, but by no means certs to go up.
Sheffield Wednesday sit fourth, Sunderland are fifth and Birmingham are ninth in the shelling out pecking order, proving money certainly doesn’t always count.
Millwall, meanwhile, who have real momentum are mid table when it comes to what they have invested.
Ok, I have to admit that Ipswich (third lowest net spenders) have performed comparatively well, while Brentford (second lowest) still have an outside chance of the play-offs.
Of course I want the hand to be stuck into the trouser pocket as deeply as possible to bring the best possible additions to City’s squad.
What I want even more than waving a cheque book, is that the skills and nous of the recruitment team be stretched to the limit to build a cohesive unit which I feel is so crucial for success.
We have some lads who possess those attributes and young starlets coming through who are showing real promise.
There’s a huge job through the summer to see whether the missing links to the “work in progress” can be found. OTBC.
Pleased for ex-City duo
So how do you feel about John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett getting promoted then?
I can imagine that opinions will be split between City fans.
There will be those who will find it hard to be pleased for them, especially as the success they have enjoyed in the club they joined after leaving Carra has been in such contrast to the one they left.
Others will be chuffed and wish them all the best.
I’m very much in the latter camp.
For me RB was the player who promised so much for the Canaries after his £3m move from Peterborough but never quite reached the levels we hoped for in the five seasons with us.
I was sad when JR left after a great seven years at Norwich when his contract was not renewed.
They have both been key figures in Wolves’ drive to the top flight and really hope they are given a good crack when the new season begins in August.
They deserve it.
VAR and Jerome
I’m sure at the start of the Bundesliga game between Mainz and Freiburg, no-one expected it would become talked about across the world.
In case you have missed it, referee Guido Winkmann turned a muted penalty appeal down just before the break.
However, as the players were off at half time, the video assistant told the ref that he should have given a spot kick.
So Mr Winkmann recalled both the teams during the interval and awarded a penalty to Mainz.
The decision got me thinking about other decisions in football which could now be reversed.
I’d like football bosses to look again at Simon Hooper’s inexplicable ruling that Cameron Jerome’s spectacular bicycle kick goal on the opening day of the 2015/16 season should have been disallowed for dangerous play,
Of course if it had stood, we would have won the game and stayed up.
Therefore they must reinstate us into the Premier League...