Robin Sainty: Whatever happened to young and hungry?

Adam Idah is replaced by Jonathan Rowe during Norwich City's Premier League match against Crystal Palace

Adam Idah and Jonathan Rowe offer some hope for the future for Norwich City - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There have been plenty of articles and columns covering what’s gone wrong this season and identifying various people as the main culprits, so I see little point in going over 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 that I targeted when the fixtures came out, but in all honesty I couldn’t raise the enthusiasm, such is my sense of disconnection from this City squad.

Instead, I acceded to my nine-year-old grandson’s request to take him to his first “proper” game at King’s Lynn and thoroughly enjoyed some decent non-league football without the angst involved in watching City capitulate away from home this season.

It has been a thoroughly miserable time and it’s going to be a difficult summer as City prepare for another tilt at the Championship. At present there is a great deal of anger, and no shortage of revisionism, particularly where Daniel Farke is concerned.

Much as I loved the man, the loss of identity that has been pointed to by most commentators started on his watch, with the disastrous change of system which resulted in a series of pitiful displays which reached their nadir at Stamford Bridge.

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

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

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

The first is that someone exercises the option that has been available since 2010 to request that the board issues up to 1,000,000 new shares and so becomes the new majority shareholder. I think that unlikely, not because I believe that the board would obstruct a suitable candidate (and such a rebuff would inevitably become public) but because I don’t believe that such a candidate currently exists.

The second option is the possible attraction of new investment within the current ownership model, perhaps including a degree of controlled borrowing, although that would be a potentially dangerous road to take given how debts nearly sank the club in 2009 and again in 2018.

However, the final and most likely option is a continuation of the self-funding model, but clearly it would need to be rethought in the light of this season’s failings.

What does strike me is that City seem to have moved away from making hungry players with a point to prove central to their recruitment. The squad of two seasons ago might not have been as technically talented as the current crop but they had more fight, at least until the pandemic arrived and fans were excluded from grounds.

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich in action during the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Andrew Omobamidele has missed much of the season but should play a major part in Dean Smith's plans - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

What is positive is that there are good youngsters at the club, including Andrew Obamidele, Jonathan Rowe, Adam Idah amongst others, but they will need the right sort of players around them, players with both experience and the right attitude.

With that in mind, a greater emphasis on players who have grown up within the British game might also be helpful, particularly when one considers how poorly the likes of Milot Rashica (whose agent appears to already be priming the escape hatch) and Christos Tzolis have 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 that now it’s become more One City Wrong than One City Strong.