Today’s blog isn’t really too much about Norwich City because it’s all a bit quiet at the moment and other than Ben Godfrey and Carlton Morris, everyone is on holiday.
The football doesn’t stop though and yesterday was a big day in the Championship and at the highest European level of competition too.
Friday was the three year anniversary of Norwich City’s glorious winning day out at Wembley.
It was and still is, my best day out in football but it can be cruel if you lose the play-off final, as we all know from Cardiff in 2002. I heard a quote used on the radio yesterday, “Wembley is no place for losers” and that’s true enough.
Sky provided us with the obligatory images of children (and adults) desperately disappointed by yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham, a team who have been the best team in the league since the turn of the year.
Prior to that, they were fairly average and in mid-table, even dropping as low as 15th in December. Unless you’re going to run away with it like Wolves, as long as you aren’t too far away from the top six come January then you’re still well in with a shout.
Fulham needed this win, as did Aston Villa, but both for different reasons. Fulham have a core of good players that they own but then they also have a number of expensive, but effective, loan players too. Had they not won at Wembley, they would’ve lost those loan lads and inevitably lost Ryan Sessegnon too.
The 18-year-old star of Fulham’s team this season has collected all the accolades in a breakthrough season that has caught the eye of many an admirer in the Premier League and in Europe. The latest link I’ve read is that Paris St. Germain want him for £30m.
I would imagine that his best bet will to be to stay at Fulham now and look to develop in the English top flight. If he can perform to similar standards there, then his value will skyrocket.
Norwich have a similar situation with regard to James Maddison, although he has not been promoted to the Premier League with the Canaries. Interestingly, Aston Villa also have the same issue with Jack Grealish, who has been excellent for Villa since returning from injury. The fact he was clearly targeted by the Fulham players on Saturday shows how much of a threat they considered him.
Talking of Villa, they now have a huge problem on their hands. Steve Bruce spent a lot of money, mostly last season, to try to get promoted. This season, the Villains have finally got their act together and mounted a promotion push, albeit after another poor start to the season, which probably cost them an automatic place.
Financial Fair Play is surely going to be a big issue for Villa (and a few other Championship clubs too) next season and they have to be doing some cost-cutting over the summer, don’t they?
In terms of Fulham going up, I don’t mind. They always beat Norwich and they play good football. The sort of football that our Head Coach is aspiring to play in Norfolk. As for Villa, well, I can’t say I like them much and other than JP Fear at Vital HQ and Julie at work, my experience of their fans isn’t the best.
Looking into their FFP issues, it goes back to the arrival of Dr Tony Xia and his millions a couple of seasons ago. He exploded onto social media via Twitter with a series of tweets that often provided as much amusement as those from the fingers of Donald Trump.
I remember him laughing at Norwich because he’d gone “high” to beat us to the signature of Ross McCormack for £12m and around £40k per week. The same Ross McCormack that has been on loan in Australia with Melbourne City.
He earns around £2m+ a year and you can bet that Melbourne City aren’t playing all that. He’s got two years left on his Villa contract, which means he will be back in the summer for pre-season training. Sky Sports reported earlier in the month that had Villa been promoted yesterday, that his salary would’ve risen automatically to £3m+ per year as well as a £1m bonus to be paid, despite not playing a single game for Villa this season.
That is simply staggering and shows up the ridiculous nature of football deals made by desperate billionaires these days. Talk about a bullet dodged.
Villa have a lot of players on a lot of money and Jonathan Kodjia cost even more than McCormack to buy, so you’d have to assume he would be on a similar salary and bonus package. If he isn’t his agent isn’t very good. Scott Hogan was another who cost around £12m and then you’ve got Henri Lansbury, Mile Jedinak, Albert Adomah, James Chester and of course, John Terry.
Big John has been earning £80k per week at Villa, according to the Telegraph and would’ve earned another £2m in bonuses if Villa had been promoted, as well as triggering a clause for another year. I wonder if Terry will be signing on again now?
Moving on from Villa’s financial conundrum, did you watch the Champions League Final?
I’d backed Liverpool to win it after watching Real Madrid a number of times this season but the early loss of Mo Salah was a huge blow for the Reds.
Sergio Ramos is the Captain of Real and the only player left to have shared a pitch in white with Zinedine Zidane. He is also a master of the dark arts of defending and it was no surprise to see him do a job on Salah.
He pinned Salah’s arm and then tumbled to the floor, forcing the Egyptian forward to fall with him, making it appear an innocent coming together. It was anything but.
It was a classic trick to fool the referee and it worked. Salah landed awkwardly and Ramos landed on him, rolling him in the process and damaging his shoulder, an injury that may see him miss the World Cup.
I don’t think Ramos deliberately set out to injure Salah but he ended up getting that result and the smirk caught by the cameras as Salah went off said it all.
After that we had all sorts of nonsense from Ramos, including falling to the floor untouched a few times and an elbow to the head of Liverpool keeper, Loris Karius.
Karius endured the worst night of his professional career after that elbow and made two horrible ricks that handed the European Cup to Real Madrid.
Yes, it was poor goal keeping and should not happen at this level but Karius must feel awful this morning.
At the final whistle, he slumped to the floor and was not joined by any of his team mates. The first people to console him were Gareth Bale, Rafael Varane and one of Zidane’s staff. I thought that was pretty poor from Liverpool’s players. The sight, a short time later of him apologising to the fans while in tears, showed what it meant to him and how he felt.
That is probably the end of his Liverpool career but that game will haunt him forever more.
The reaction on social media afterwards was horrendous and if he hasn’t already, I’d advise him to delete his Twitter account. Some of the stuff from what looked like Liverpool fans, directed at him and his family was outrageously awful, sickening stuff.
No shame, some people.
If the team you support losing a football final is the worst thing that happens to those involved, then things aren’t that bad, are they?
Hopefully there will be a bit more Norwich news to talk about in the near future.