Relegated Norwich left demoralised after Webberball’s poor return

Norwich City have once again been relegated to the Championship

The news was scarcely well received by many in Norfolk. It should have been welcomed by anyone writing an obituary for Norwich City’s attempt to stay in the Premier League. Their sporting director Stuart Webber is going to climb Mount Everest later this year. It lends itself to comparisons with Norwich’s biennial task. They repeatedly reach base camp, in the form of promotion, before being overwhelmed by altitude sickness, forcing them to retreat to lower levels.

Relegation back to the Championship was sealed on Saturday and signposted from August. Norwich can feel a symptom of modern football, the club owned by well-meaning local millionaires who spend every other season in a world populated by billionaires. They can look a quaint anachronism: Delia Smith is an expert at egg boiling but not at sportswashing. Their supporters may reject the notion they are role models to similar sized clubs who are long exiled from the top flight, partly because their record sixth Premier League relegation feels the most demoralising yet.

Because this season was supposed to be different. Webber described Norwich’s 2019-20 campaign, when they spent a mere £1.2m in transfer fees as “going to war without a gun”. This time, he brought – or bought – the artillery. “The truth is we were the 11th biggest spenders in Europe,” he said in October and if signings were offset by the sale of Emi Buendia to Aston Villa, the bill last summer came to almost £60m, with the potential to rise further if the options to make the loans for Ozan Kabak and Mathias Normann permanent were exercised. Now they will not be.

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