It was all looking so easy for Norwich City earlier this season. Having accumulated 26 points from a possible 36 in their opening 12 Championship games, they looked destined for an immediate return to the top-flight.
But since then, things haven’t gone according to plan for the Canaries. Following that blistering start, they’ve won just six more league games in almost four months.
Amazingly, they’re still in with a chance of achieving a play-off spot come May after a four-game unbeaten run.
So we thought we’d speak to a handful of the Carrow Road outfit’s fans to get their thoughts on the campaign so far, promotion chances and manager Alex Neil.
Here’s what they had to say…
Roger Farrant (@roger_farrant)
For Norwich supporters a ‘good season’ means promotion to the Premier League or at the very least a play-off final.
Anything less, with the squad we have now, will be considered a failure.
Our main problem has been consistency – or lack of. We’ve slipped up too many times against teams we should be beating with relative ease.
The draw at Wigan this week was a perfect example of this.
Alex Neil remains under pressure. The fans do the Hokey Cokey with him – one minute we want him in, the next we want him out!
Helen Southgate (@HelenMarie21)
I’ve been a season ticket holder at Norwich for 25+ years and travel back from London every week for the games. So I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs over the years but this season has seemed particularly bad, perhaps reminiscent to when we got relegated to League One.
However, I write this off the back of four games unbeaten, three wins and a draw and two home games coming up. So there is a sense that things have maybe turned for the better although the draw away at Wigan this week demonstrated the frailties which have cursed us all season.
But I do think we’d have lost that game had it have been a few weeks ago, so things are getting better.
The expectation at the beginning of the season was automatic promotion, and when we opened with a 4-1 win at Blackburn that felt like a realistic ambition.
And that feeling continued throughout August and September, but the turning point was that dreadful game at Newcastle where we were 3-1 up at 70 mins then ended up losing the game 4-3 with two goals from them in injury time.
From there it went downhill and we went on a dreadful run which left us likely out of contention for automatic promotion and in the dog fight for the play-off places
The fans turned against Alex Neil, a manager who we had all initially backed and supported despite being relegated last season. One local newspaper ran a poll and 96 per cent of fans said they wanted Neil out.
However, the board continued to back him, and he promised he would turn it around. At the moment it feels like he may be achieving that.
So, disappointing not to be up there at the top, but we need to take that on the chin and ensure we end up in the play-offs. If we do, then based on the season so far I’m not convinced we’ll make it through and I suspect we will have another year in the Championship.
And we know that every year it gets tougher and tougher to get out. This was our best chance, but unfortunately we simply have not been good enough.
Adam Brandon (@caniggiascores)
The season overall has been a disappointment. Our good start to the year was aided by the fact we played all the sides in the bottom-half in the first quarter of the campaign.
Even against those teams we looked fragile both defensively and mentally, and as soon as we met sides near the top of the table we leaked a lot of goals.
Alex Neil survived one of our worst ever runs at this level (eight defeats in 10 matches), so if he got through that, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he gets sacked.
Fans are split as to how good this squad actually is, but I personally think it is good enough to win promotion this season.
Our home form is one of the best in the division, so if we can start to pick up points on the road then a top six finish is a realistic aim.
Anything other than promotion should be considered a failure as the club stated it was their objective at the start of the season.
Will Sargent (@WTSarge)
I think we have to finish in the play-offs at very least. Our squad is widely regarded as one of the best in the division, so anything less than a top six finish would be disappointing.
Consistency has been a problem all season. The manager has struggled to put together a settled side and our defending has been generally poor. But the pressure on him appears to have eased somewhat following a string of better results.
Many fans still aren’t convinced though. He often appears clueless when we need to change tactics and another bad run of results could spell the end for him.
However, plenty of supporters expected him to go last season and he’s still in a job, so he clearly has the backing of the owners.
Is promotion still a realistic aim? Definitely, but we need to go on a long, unbeaten run in order for this to happen. A lot of the teams above us are in good form, so we’re relying on them slipping up at some stage.
Promotion is possible, but it’s not probable.
Gary Gowers (@Gary_Gowers)
Turn the clock back one month and it’d have been tough to see us going up. But from nowhere we’ve managed to find a bit of forward momentum.
A truly rotten late autumn and winter sent the club into a seemingly terminal tailspin, and mid-table mediocrity beckoned. But 10 points from our last four games have given us a timely and unforeseen lift.
Whether it’s too little too late will only become clear in May, but because of said horrible run, our expectations have had to be realigned. We wanted top two, the best we can hope for now is top six.
Ultimately it boils down to a group of underperforming players, a manager who’s lost his way and a board who it has become clear have been riddled with division.
One thing’s for sure though, they [the board] have no intention of sacking Alex Neil. Even a run of eight defeats in 10 didn’t create too much pressure for him.
Can we still make the play-offs? Yes, mathematically it’s still feasible but the poor run has eft the squad with very little wriggle room.
Personally, I feel they may just miss out.
Steven Berry (@canary1fan)
A good season in my opinion would’ve been automatic promotion. Obviously that’s out of reach now, and we might just scrape the play-offs.
The board are too tight with money. I’m not being funny but if you want to own a football club nowadays you’ll need lots of money to do well.
I’ve been very up and down about the manager and am still on the fence. I went to Southampton away in the cup and was crying for him to go because it was just awful to watch.
But I wonder whether he’s now turned a corner and whether we can push on because I’d love to see him turn it around.
Defensively we look poor but that’s been a problem since the days of [Paul] Lambert.
We’ve not been clinical enough in games this season, and that’s cost us dearly.
I think we have a chance of reaching the play-offs, and if we do I’d back us to go and win it as our squad have been there before and have the quality to do it.
But we’d then need to sign some quality players if we were to stay in the Premier League.
They’ve had their say, but what do you think? Can Norwich achieve promotion this year? And is Alex Neil the right man to take the club forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing