Norwich City finally lifted the Championship trophy after a hard fought 2-2 draw at Oakwell against Barnsley on Saturday.
An hour before kick off, when the team sheet was published, we saw a rare moment of sentimentality from Daniel Farke as he included both Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic in the starting XI with Tettey wearing the Captain’s armband.
Farke has often spoken about people earning their game time and not being given it out of said sentimentality, especially when talking about young players but here was a genuine farewell from the club to it’s longest serving player in Alex and a provider of some brilliant, hugely important moments, in Super Mario.
The game itself was entertaining and open with Barnsley twice taking the lead and Norwich twice equalising but with the Canaries having enough chances to win it, especially in the second half. The result, of course, was of little consequence for wither side with the title already won and Barnsley already assured of a play off place.
The Tykes will play Swansea, who are the team I would want to face next if I were a Barnsley fan. The Swans are in poor form and have seemingly gone backwards since they beat Norwich at The Liberty Stadium in early February. At that time it looked like a three way fight for the title between Norwich, Brentford and Swansea but the latter two both choked at crucial moments, while the Canaries kicked on.
The way that Farke’s friend, Barnsley Head Coach Valerien Ismael, has got the Tykes playing suggests to me that they may well get to the final, a one off game against the winner of Brentford v Bournemouth, and on this form it could go either way. They play a very high pressing type of football and although exhausting to practice, it’s got them this far. Good luck to them, I’d love to see them get to the Premier League this summer, that would be a fairytale.
At the end of the game, having given City a most welcome guard of honour before kick off, the Barnsley players and staff left Norwich to their celebrations. It just wasn’t the same without fans though. The lifting of this very same trophy two years ago at Villa Park was an awesome day out for City fans and one of my favourite ever away days, how could such a moment not be?
These things are not that common for the Canary Nation and to miss out on one due to COVID restrictions is tough to take. Any future planned celebration once restrictions lift just won’t feel the same, especially if we’re having a tough time of it in the Premier League when such a thing could perhaps be allowed.
All eyes now turn to the summer and the upcoming transfer window.
We know that Alex and Mario will no longer be at the club but what about the rest of the squad?
Dimitrious Giannoulis (£6m) and Ben Gibson (£8m) will both be signing and both have improved the squad but there are other questions to answer. Max Aarons and Emi Buendia look set to attract attention along with Todd Cantwell. It seems likely to me that both Emi and Max have been told that they can leave under the right circumstances, which would be a monster transfer fee for both.
To that end, Oakwell might be our last sighting of these superb players in yellow and green but as I say, it’ll be under City’s direction as to what happens next. There is no pressure to sell and both are now Premier League players again. So, I can only see players like that leaving if they move to the biggest of clubs and are set to be influential first team players, like the assurances you offer when you sign a new player on FIFA on your X-Box.
Norwich will want ready made replacements if that happens and I’m sure that, especially given the time frame in their favour, Farke, Kieran Scott and Stuart Webber will already know who they want if it happens.
In the meantime let’s look forward to the European Championships and you can enjoy your summer safe in the knowledge that if Harry Kane had stayed at Norwich, he would’ve won three trophies by now…