The canary in the coal mine died weeks ago, signalling what would inevitably be the end of the Canaries in the Premier League, at least for the time being.
With a 2-0 loss against Arsenal on Sunday, Norwich City have been relegated.
Sky Sports News confirmed the news:
Norwich City have been relegated to the Championship #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 11, 2014
Coming into the day, the club was all but assured of the drop. Norwich sat three points behind West Brom, but more importantly, their goal differential was 17 goals worse than the Baggies'. Making that kind of gap up in one week is nearly impossible:
TABLE: There would need to be a 17-goal swing in favour of Norwich City for the Canaries to avoid relegation. pic.twitter.com/kEo7EJmwws— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 7, 2014
Ahead of the Arsenal match, interim manager Neil Adams tried to remain upbeat, per BBC Sport.
"We need a bit of luck," he said in what was a massive understatement. "We shouldn't be where we are. Hopefully things go our way and we have to make sure Sunday's game is a fantastic occasion."
Alas, all the optimism in the world couldn't keep Norwich up. The Canaries' fate was truly sealed with their 1-0 loss to Fulham back on April 12. That defeat came in the middle of a five-match losing streak.
A multitude of problems got Norwich into this position, but no issue was more glaring than goal-scoring. Twenty-eight goals in 38 matches is unacceptable if you want to stay in the Premier League.
That paltry total is all the more galling for supporters considering the amount of money former manager Chris Hughton sunk into improving the strike force over the summer.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel arrived in a club-record £8.5 million transfer from Sporting, yet his returns were one goal and one assist in 25 appearances, and the lone goal came in the first match of the season. Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander were also brought in, but they were only marginally better than Van Wolfswinkel.
Sacking Hughton in April did little to stop the bleeding. Perhaps appointing somebody who had never managed a senior team in the middle of a relegation scrap wasn't the best of ideas, but many would argue that the damage had already been done.
John Percy of The Telegraph, however, wondered if Norwich panicked when they instead needed to maintain a steady hand:
When Norwich reflect on their season after Sunday's final game, at home to Arsenal, they may question the timing of the sacking of Hughton. McNally insisted that he had no option but to dismiss him in April, with results appalling and showing no signs of improvement.
The decision smacked of panic at a club normally renowned for stability and it should have been taken earlier, if at all. Norwich claimed that they made the move to provide the squad with “the maximum chance of survival” but Adams, previously a respected coach with the academy, has managed to take just one point from four games.
Looking back at what the Canaries could have done right won't change their future.
Although the club can count on the parachute payments from the Premier League once it arrives in the Championship, it will be interesting to see if high wage-earners will be sold off—or at the very least loaned out—to balance the budget. The summer arrivals like Hooper, Van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer would likely be the first to go.
Adams may not be long for the manager role, either. Ownership could opt for somebody who has more experience in the second division and has helped elevate a club into the Premier League.
Gaining promotion a season after getting relegated isn't unheard of. Newcastle and West Ham have recently made the jump after only a year, while Q.P.R. have qualified for the playoffs.
Although Norwich's immediate future looks grim, their long-term future could remain secured if the Canaries plan for their Championship life correctly.