Money, Moany, Money, Guest Blog by Duncan Edwards

We’re obsessed with money.
Us. The fans. Whenever we consider the club’s future, it is the first consideration; not so much a stumbling block but a bloody great monolith deliberately trying to kick our legs away.
Or so folk would have you believe.
Let’s not do ten step-overs when we could just get the ball in; Delia and Michael are among the least wealthy owners in the top two flights of English Football. It isn’t a secret, it’s well publicised and a hefty percentage of our fan base see it as the primary reason we aren’t an established top flight club.
How true is that though?
I hear that they can’t compete with the influx of overseas finance, that our team is being left behind by bankrolled behemoths and that a lifetime languishing in lower league football is the best we can hope for unless we encourage our well meaning paupers out the door. New owners, new investment, new impetus.
Except, surely that’s bollocks, isn’t it?
The obsession with money is ugly, not just around the Carra but everywhere. The scenes at the London Stadium for instance; shiny new stadium, loaded owners, Premier League Football…what’s not to like? Well, I guess the fact that the loaded owners ripped the heart out of the club by moving it from its spiritual home to a soulless athletics stadium. They were West Ham, Upton Park, no-go pubs for away fans around the ground, working class, ICF, eastenders and Essex boys. They definitely weren’t Stratford Olympic Rovers with some jolly nice shopping next door.
Of course, the motivation for the move? Money.
To the owners, a move of a mile or so to a bigger stadium, decent transport links while having the opportunity to develop the old ground all made sense. To the fans it has been like trying to swallow a hedgehog; it sticks in the throat.
They’re just one club though. For every club I list that’s had the “investment” and is in a state, it’s easy enough to just say Man City or Chelsea. This season Wolves would be a useful one for the financially focused to cite as they appear to be fast-tracking to the Premier League.
Yet, if you look at the Championship on its own, Delia is still poor.
Sunderland’s Mr Short is apparently worth £1bn. What good is that doing them? Birmingham have had the takeover and have owners worth £500m; and? Forest, Barnsley, Sheffield Utd, Sheffield Wednesday…bloody Ipswich….all with the megabucks that are apparently a pre-requisite to success and all are a rural 8 furlongs from achieving anything like we have in the last decade.
And that’s what doesn’t make sense to me.
People are telling me that we’re underperforming, the same people are telling me that we need “fresh” investment to compete, the same people are telling me that they won’t buy a bond because the board “pissed money up the wall”.
Well, hang you on a minute buh.
We’re sat comfortably mid-table in the Championship having made wholesale changes throughout the club. We win some, we draw some, we lose some. Now, it might not match our expectation levels but it IS, by definition, competitive. Having done this without the new owners and new money while plenty that have had it are below us in the table surely indicates that we (club, board and team) are performing at a level way above what we should rightfully expect?
If it really is all about money then we are like Prince William; seriously punching above our weight.
If money really is the most important factor; surely the obvious conclusion is that we are breaking the model and outperforming what should be expected; that the board is performing remarkably well.
If cash really is king, if investment provides the “difference”, why are some of our own fans so against the idea? The same fans that claim we need additional investment?
Here we have the club seeking external investment as has been a regular request for seasons. That request is coming from a club, board and team outperforming their place in the hierarchy that these fans set their standards by; wealth. The request also gives folk an opportunity to make a few quid (or lose it, admittedly).
But no, still the bleats continue:
“I pay for my season ticket, that should be enough.”
“Promotion bonus? We’ll never go up under this board”
“They said themselves they pissed money up the wall, why should the fans bail them out?”
“8th most expensive ticket in the country for dull football and now the begging bowl is out.”
Maybe it’s just a lack of understanding but somehow I doubt that it is.
The point of the bond, the point of seeking this external investment is to raise the finance to maintain a Cat1 academy. The nucleus of development, integral to the vision set out by Webber. With the finance raised like this, the cash to maintain the academy won’t have to come off the playing budget. That must be another positive, right?
I think so but there are plenty that remain unconvinced. Plenty that feel this money should come straight from the board (and presumably the other shareholders?) as some sort of penance for spending the entire Football budget in previous seasons. I’m not sure how that becomes a consideration? Are we suggesting that the money for Colney should have been held back or are we just being wise after the event and claiming the money should have been spent better?
Either way it seems that the stumbling block is the speech Webber made at the AGM. A speech that was critical of the previous regime. Our answer? Punish Webber and his plans for mistakes made by his predecessors. Brilliant. Presumably these folk also hold Cameron responsible for Blair going into Iraq? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Quite.
See, the reality is that the same people against this bond are largely the same people that are against the board, and Delia Smith in particular, normally.
The same people that want new investment. The same people that “thank” her but claim she’s taken us as far as she can. The same people that claim she’s a “well meaning amateur” despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Here we have the club actively seeking outside investment just like these fans have been crying out for us to do for years. Their response? It’s a sign of financial mismanagement and ineptitude.
You couldn’t make it up.
It seems that outside investment is welcome and will be welcomed….as long as it’s somebody else’s money…

A week that has provided fresh impetus for Norwich City fans

When we finally get to look back on this season of change I suspect that this last week may prove to be a significant staging post on the journey towards a new-look Norwich City.
Despite expectations that the January transfer window would be quiet at Carrow Road, it seems that the dismantlement of the old squad and its crippling wage bill has accelerated, even if some of the outgoings are only on loan, and the ground has been cleared for a younger, hungrier group of players.
While the squad was at its most threadbare last Saturday, the arrivals of Onel Hernandez, Moritz Leitner and Dennis Srbeny this week have both provided reinforcements and generated new fan interest as we await to see how they adapt to Championship football
Realistically, I also think that last Saturday was the final conclusive proof that, while Daniel Farke’s team are developing, they are realistic play-off contenders this season, and that the priority now should be to use this window and the one in the summer to build a squad that can mount a genuine challenge next season.
The fact is that when everyone is fit City can beat anyone, but the squad has lacked the strength in depth necessary to cope with the inevitable injuries that the Championship helter skelter brings.
That is particularly true in midfield where City’s performance seems to hinge on which defensive midfielders are available. Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey have been the most effective pairing, but on Saturday the partnership of Tettey and Harrison Reed was a major factor in City’s under-performance.
Neither is an incisive passer, and both prefer to sit just in front of the back four, and as a result there was too large a gap between them and City’s attacking players, space that Sheffield United made full use of to take control of the opening half hour.
While I admire Reed’s work rate, for me he flatters to deceive on the ball by completing lots of short passes that take the team nowhere and encourage opponents to press higher up the pitch.
Compared to the games at Bristol and Chelsea, City lacked the ability of Mario Vrancic to keep the ball moving and put some impetus into their attacks and as a result were once again much too slow in getting the ball forward.
It didn’t help that James Maddison had his least effective game for some time, and it was perhaps a salutary reminder after he has been hyped to the heavens that he is only just 21 and playing his first Championship season. He looks jaded, and why wouldn’t he?
City’s other young star, Jamal Lewis, will also have learnt a valuable lesson from the needless concession of the corner that led to United’s opener. However good you may be on the ball there are some situations where Row Z is the best option rather than trying to play in the wrong areas. That said, Alex Tettey’s gaffe for the decisive second goal showed that experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee good decision making.
In fairness to Sheffield United, they had a good game plan and executed it perfectly. Maddison was buffeted by whichever United player was on hand, and they were abetted by a weak referee who took way too long to cotton on to what was happening, but they started on the front foot knowing that getting the first goal would be vital against a tired side.
They may lack flair, but they’re organised and committed and fully deserved their win.
It was a bad end to their latest unbeaten run, but City must pick themselves up and dust themselves down because today’s game against an in-form Brentford team will be just as tough. However, if they can reproduce the grit shown at Ashton Gate and Stamford Bridge there is no reason why they can’t produce a result.

Reality bites in the corridors of power at Carrow Road

After the emotional highs of the derby win and the performance at the Emirates it’s been a week of reality checks for City fans.
A fall in income of 25pc, largely due to loss of broadcasting revenue, and significant sums going in redundancy packages, have left a black hole in the club’s finances that has only been partially filled by the summer sales, resulting in a loss of £2.7m.
While the payments to Alex Neil and Jez Moxey will stick in the throat of many fans given the limited playing budget this season, most of us wanted change, but it’s the board that have to deal with the financial realities of those decisions. Imagine the outcry if either had done well then gone elsewhere with no compensation to the club? Contracts work both ways.
With parachute payments ceasing at the end of this season it means that further cost cutting may well be required in the summer if promotion isn’t achieved, but that’s an inevitable consequence of such a far-reaching restructure of the club and its academy. However, what’s really interesting is that the club had its record wage bill last season, emphasising the extent of the failures on the pitch but torpedoing the popular theory of lack of boardroom ambition.
In some respects, the fact that City have been able to bring in players of the quality of Christoph Zimmermann, Marco Stiepermann and Tom Trybull cheaply, as well as shrewd loan acquisitions, is reassuring, but there is no doubt that Stuart Webber’s continuing ability to find talent for relatively little outlay is going to be a defining factor in terms of the club’s future development.
However, an equally important factor is fitness, with the last two games showing the toll that the club’s injury list and the glut of matches have taken on its relatively small squad. I’ve seen more mental errors from City players in this week’s games than in all of the previous eight combined and that is largely down to fatigue.
For example, Trybull had been virtually faultless throughout the unbeaten run, but was a shadow of that player on Tuesday, and the same is true of several others.
While City gave a good account of themselves against Derby and were unlucky to have lost the game, the fact is that they were totally outclassed by Wolves and were fortunate that the margin of defeat wasn’t greater.
Their performance was flat and almost totally dependent upon James Maddison for any form of inspiration and, whilst the quality of the opposition must be factored in, it did nothing to dispel the growing suspicion that City’s ponderous build-up play is too easily negated by visiting teams.
However, whilst it’s disappointing that an excellent run has ended in such a fashion it’s important not to overreact or rush to judgment. This week’s injury update suggests that we may not be too far away from seeing a City side with both Nelson Oliveira and Alex Pritchard fully fit, and it is only then that we will be able to really assess what this squad is capable of.
A realistic assessment would be that City are currently an upper mid-table team with play-off potential, and while we’d all like more, it’s a big improvement on the situation two months ago. Developing teams always have blips and, given the mitigating circumstances, I hope that this week proves to be one before the squad kicks on again.
A win today and players returning to fitness would mean that we’ll all be feeling happier by the time the action returns, so come on, City!