Sport Columnists

Mon, 16:13

It got so bad for Norwich City on Saturday that I had to say the ‘F’ word on the radio. Yes that’s right – Fulham.

Recruitment is hugely important for clubs like Norwich City – it’s their job to find rocks and stone and polish them into gems.

Recently I decided to sit down and watch some of City’s early-season games, primarily to cheer myself up but also to try to see what has changed.

That’s five consecutive defeats now for Norwich City since the restart, and if you count the 1-0 loss against Sheffield United in their last game before lockdown that’s six losses on the spin, something the club has done only once in their Premier League history, back in April 1995.

The past month since Project Restart kicked off has been one of the most soulless and least enjoyable periods in my 40 years as a Norwich City supporter.

Finding and then choosing the right words at the right time is pretty basic when it comes to football commentary, but the importance of engaging the brain before opening one’s mouth has never been clearer.

The only positive of Project Restart from the perspective of Norwich City fans is the fact that the relentless schedule of games means that our suffering will be over relatively quickly.

If ever there was a game that summed up this season for Norwich City it was the 90 minutes on Wednesday night at the Emirates.

Todd Cantwell answered several big questions with one swing of his right boot when he scored against Manchester United on Saturday.

Regular readers of this column will know that I was considerably less than enthusiastic about the return of the ersatz version of football produced to keep the broadcasting wolves from the door of the Premier League, and Project Restart has so far done nothing to convince me that I was wrong.

I said in my column last week that I thought Norwich would just do enough to avoid relegation this season – but after back-to-back defeats it is not looking good, to say the very least.

There are plenty of damning statistics from Norwich City’s season so far.

Previously on ‘Little Miracle’. Anyone who had filled the football-shaped hole in their life over the past three months by bingeing on Netflix series will have appreciated Norwich City’s approach to the Premier League’s Project Restart.

It’s exactly 104 days since Norwich City lost at Bramall Lane in their last Premier League game before this awful pandemic that’s caused pain and suffering in all four corners of the world.

It’s going to be like a high school reunion at Carrow Road on Friday evening. The bricks and mortar will inspire an emotional reaction because of all the experiences those four walls have contained over the years, but there will be a gradual realisation that the old place isn’t quite the same without all the fun stuff that used to go on.

One of the worst things you can do as a quiz master is ask a question without knowing the answer yourself.

Well, we’re going to be getting some “entertainment” in the coming weeks, but to paraphrase Mr Spock: “It’s football, Jim, but not as we know it.”

Whether we like it or not football is back.

A lot has happened since Jamal Lewis scored a brilliant winner against Leicester City.

It’s supposed to be one of the most exciting days of the year for football supporters but this time it was little more than a reminder of the experiences they would be missing out on.

It seems strange after all this time to be talking about live football again. Since the Premier League ground to a halt just before the weekend of March 14, we have seen a break of eight weeks, which will have extended to 11 by the time that the action restarts, assuming all goes to schedule.

The reality of what Norwich City playing behind closed doors actually means is beginning to dawn on supporters.

This week’s stark warning from Huddersfield Town owner Phil Hodgkinson that up to 60 lower league clubs could go out of business unless the football establishment starts to look beyond the current obsession with finishing the current season and plans effectively for change in the longer term is worrying.

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Remember the shock in the middle of March when Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and the Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi both tested positive for Covid-19?

Many moons ago I wrote a column that was pretty much full of silliness – I think I was trying to relieve some tension during a particularly sticky patch down the road at NR1.

After a period of fence sitting, the Premier League clubs have voted for players to return to training, albeit non-contact, and the Bundesliga has returned to action in Germany. Whether these are sensible moves will be something that only time will tell.

When it comes to Norwich City players down the years who have made a real impact on me, Luke Chadwick would not be that high up the list.

“We need a 12th man out there” – one of the less-often quoted segments of Delia Smith’s famous cameo on the Carrow Road pitch back in 2005, but with some sort of Premier League resumption looking increasingly likely we may finally be able to answer the age old question about how much influence supporters actually have on the outcome of a match.

So another week has gone by and we’re still no clearer about the fate of Project Restart, not least because it’s so hard for the average fan to get a handle on what’s really going on.

You must have heard about the time Tommy Cooper was introduced to the Queen after appearing at a Royal Variety Performance. He asked Her Majesty whether she liked football and when she said “No, not particularly” he said, “Can I have your Cup final tickets?”

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