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The Bitter Pill of Relegation

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Relegation is always a bitter pill for fans to to swallow. Even when it seems likely from the very start of the season. Even if you know your team and squad is not enough to survive.  Even when your Board has recognised that you have problems and have thrown the managerial dice in a desperate attempt to change things around. Even when they have splashed the cash in the January transfer window in an attempt to turn the tide.BUT... if we continue the way we are going, there is an inevitability about the outcome of this season and the bitter pill of relegation is going to stick in the throats of thousands of loyal Norwich fans, making it impossible to swallow.Simply put, none of the usual criteria above apply to our club this season. When we kicked off last August, fans were extremely optimistic. The club had invested heavily to strengthen a squad which (slightly fortunately perhaps) had finished in a respectable half-way position. It was generally agreed that we had the squad and the individual players that were good enough to allow us to look upwards from our finishing position last term rather than nervously below. The Board has not thrown the managerial dice when the problems have been there for all to see. Instead they have dillied and dallied, voicing their support for the Manager but not having enough confidence in their support to back their opinion with hard cash in the January transfer window, as other clubs around us have done.The vast majority (myself included) have blamed Chris Hughton for his cautious and negative approach, but is it really fair to do so?Chris Hughton, probably scarred from what was generally perceived as harsh treatment from Newcastle, has been cautious and negative from day one at Norwich. It seems obvious by now that this is his nature. And indeed, from his perspective, this approach has been successful for him. He achieved a respectable league position last season, his approach has led to him being the third longest serving Manager in the Premier League. His negative and cautious approach which was there for all to see for much of last season appears to have the Board''s approval as was underlined in close season when they backed Hughton''s approach by spending far more money on new players than ever before. The criticisms of last season, defensive and cautious approach to games against weaker sides, poor substitution choices, lack of goals are all still there this season, but Chris Hughton is still Norwich Manager, so the message he receives is that his cautious and negative approach is acceptable and justified.From David McNally''s comments, it is fair to assume that the main measure that the Board use to judge Chris Hughton''s performance is that we stay out of the relegation places. Hughton''s negative approach achieved that aim last season, with points to spare, so from his point of view, why should he try to change his approach, even if he could change his natural cautious outlook?Hughton is the natural and obvious target for the fan''s frustration, but is it really fair? He did not appoint himself into the job. He has not changed his approach, which his employers backed close-season with hard cash. He has not set the criteria that he has to achieve to remain in a job and keep the support of the Board. While it is understandable for Hughton to be the focus of disapproval by the fans is it really fair to do so? The Board appointed Hughton. They seemingly approved of his natural negative and cautious approach, which was so obviously apparent last season. They are the people with the power to change the Manager and the fact they have not done so (and it is probably now too late) means that if the worst case scenario does happen, means that the blame should be laid firmly at their door.

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