In football terms, I’ve often struggled to understand the term ‘at a crossroads’. Surely there are only two ways you can go? Forwards or backwards.
I suppose you could, in theory, simply stand still, awaiting a ride in that warm looking bus shelter of Premier League mid-table mediocrity. Waiting for the transport to arrive, a metaphorical catalyst towards the promise of greater things. A catalyst in the form of a foreign owner maybe. Or a star player from the youth team who provides the spark on which to experience success. Of course, this may never happen, and after a while of scrabbling around in the top tier, you meekly thumb a ride back to whence you once came.
I mention this because it appears City are once again at one of these ‘crossroads’. After years of going round and round in circles, following the same old streets, the Canaries decided to take a detour this summer. And a rather massive one at that.
The appointment of Stuart Webber as Director of Football and Daniel Farke as Head Coach was an attempt at travelling down a completely different path. One carved in Europe, but relatively new in Britain. The destination, as usual, was exactly the same, but the route taking us there entirely new. Fresh. Exciting.
It hasn’t turned out that way. While it was never going to be a shortcut to success, surely the expectation was that the road would be a little smoother than the one we currently find ourselves on?
Hence the impending crossroads.
Do we carry on, on this path? One which appears increasingly steep and progressively harder to traverse? Or do we once again return to the familiar? The one which continuously and repeatedly led to this position in the first place.
In isolation, losing 1-0 to Leeds is not a disaster. More a slight delay at a pedestrian crossing.
Let’s be honest we’ve been held up there many times before. Only the very optimistic believed we’d have a clear run through with no difficulties. It is, however, the previous miles of holdups that have resulted in the frustration, swearing and potential for road rage that we’re currently enduring.
Of course, there are those who wish to give up on this mode of transport entirely. To do away with the trusted vehicle. One that has taken us on many road trips in the past 20 years. One which we loved when we first drove it off the forecourt, having traded in the vile leaded polluter that preceded it. That too gave us some good times – a first foray into Europe for example – before its toxicity got the better of it.
The expectation, of course, is that the new motor will fast track City to where they want to go. Leaving opponents trailing in their wake, and blazing a trail so bright all around want a piece of it. The reality could be different. We could end up with a gas guzzler that on the surface looks appealing but in reality leaves us out of pocket. Maybe it’s a gamble worth taking. Maybe not. Unfortunately, that’s the trouble with gambles. The unknown.
But, is a safe stance a better bet though?
There is of course, also the theory that come next summer the main components will be replaced by inferior products anyway. A move that may save money, but will surely impede performance. Tired leather seats were replaced by cheap polyester this summer. Changes this year would involve the sale of more recent, expensive upgrades and luxuries.
As has been said elsewhere, this is an important part of the journey for so many people. For Daniel Farke trying to prove his continental model can work in a new country. For Stuart Webber, the architect of the new approach, trying to convince people his performance in Huddersfield was more than a one-off fluke. For Delia and Michael attempting to show that a genuine affiliation with the club they own is far preferable to a rich owner looking for a new plaything. And the players, trying to show their ability to fans, potential purchasers and in some cases, believe it or not, even national team scouts.
Much has been said about Norwich’s next three games, and they will indeed go a long way to deciding along which road the Canaries travel in the New Year. While calls to make a U-turn as soon as possible are increasing in ferocity, three wins in these three games may convince supporters we are on the right track after all.
While the Rolls Royce engine of Pritchard and Maddison misfired against the Peacocks of Leeds, we all know how impressive it can be when it does get going. The return of Alex Tettey will no doubt help in this regard. With drive and determination, the Norwegian powerhouse will certainly be looking to propel Norwich forward as he’s reintegrated into the midfield engine room.
Let’s hope it’s in the right direction.
Who knows where we’ll be headed otherwise…