A few months ago, when we where still in the promotion mix, I remember a whole lot of people stating that this year we had virtually our only shot at going up, and avoiding the championship trap for the years to come.
With our demanding wage bill (even though the whole squad took cuts after relegation), it wouldn`t be viable to retain our highest earners for a second straight season in the championship.
And let`s not forget about the parachute payments that will cease in the next year or so, that would make it financially impossible to keep buying £8m valued players for a self-sustained and debt free club.
We lived for long periods of the season in a now or never scenario, and it definitively contributed to the pressure. Expectations where high and anything besides direct promotion was to be considered a failure.
On that pitch, I remember Michael Bailey speaking at the Pink`Un show, saying that he didn`t recall any teams bouncing back to the premier league at the second time of asking, in recent times.
Precisely, in the Premier League era only seven teams have achieved promotion two years after being relegated: Crystal Palace (1996/1997), Sunderland (1997/1998), Middlesbrough (1997/1998), Blackburn Rovers (2000/2001), Sunderland (2004/2005), West Ham (2004/2005), and most recently, West Bromwich Albion (2007/2008).
So Michael was right, we would be the first team to do it in ten years. Surprisingly, teams seemed to be doing it more often in the past – three did it in the 1990`s, four in the 2000`s, but none have yet done it in the 2010s.
Has something changed in the last decade or is it just a matter of dysfunctional probabilities?
I personally think it has to do with the financial fear of having a team built for premier league living in the championship. Clubs have a hard time adjusting their expense structure after relegation. But they have learned that if they don`t there is too much at stake (the most recent example is Bolton.)
Every relegated team has high hopes on getting promoted right away, so efforts are put towards returning at the first time of asking. But if promotion is not achieved, the second time will always be harder, as the last wisp of parachute payments seem to be close on the horizon and competition hardens with the newest division fellows on the fixture.
To be honest, I would be quite concerned if Norwich had not made deep changes these past few months. I personally feel confident that Stuart Webber is taking the right approach and has injected some character the club had been lacking, whilst cleaning the house.
We all agree on the toughness of the championship. But we still have one more year of parachute payments, and we have an apparently wise lad calling the big shots. Hopefully we will steer in the right direction this summer.
I personally do not expect too many high rated players coming to the club, but instead young and hungry lads. I would expect something similar to a higher spending Huddersfield. We are in for the long term with this project, but it doesn`t mean we can`t go up right away.