Norwich City: Why the Canaries Are Wrong to Dismiss European Dream

Andy Ward@@Wardy1710Contributor IIOctober 14, 2013

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29:  Jonathan Howson (2ndR) of Norwich City celebrates the opening goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Norwich City at the Britannia Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Norwich City have done a lot right in recent years, and last week's briefing on the club's annual accounts delivered more positive news. 

Chairman Alan Bowkett and Chief Executive David McNally proudly revealed that the Canaries have wiped out all of their external debt and are now hoping to cement a top 10 finish in this year's Premier League. 

However, despite all the positivity, when questioned on the prospect of Norwich one day aiming to compete in the Europa League, the duo appeared to dismiss the suggestion out of hand, pointing towards the financial and logistical demands of the tournament per the Norwich Evening News.

I found myself slightly depressed by the stance, because without the goal of European football, the only other alternative for clubs like Norwich City is to simply tread water every year in the Premier League.

Just surviving in the top flight year after year is a dejecting thought, indeed. Although there will be memorable moments in every team's domestic campaign that keep fans coming back for more, any club worth its salt should eventually have ambitions to want a bit more than that.

Realistically, a Norwich City, a Stoke City or a Fulham is never going to be able to challenge for the Champions League spots or the league title, and as such, Europa League qualification probably represents the pinnacle of what can be achieved. 

It's a sad state of affairs, but with the money and resources available to the very top teams in England, the days in which so called "less fashionable" clubs could upset the odds and break into the top four are long gone.

Now there is a glass ceiling to what the majority of teams in the the league can achieve.

However, the chase for Europa League football is one goal that can be reached by several clubs in the division, and Norwich City should not exempt themselves from the pursuit.

Regardless of the lack of financial gain cited by the club's board, the dream of Norwich City pitting their wits against, and potentially defeating, a European giant under the floodlights at a packed Carrow Road should act as far more of an incentive.

The performances of Swansea City in Europe so far this season are a clear indication of the potential rewards on offer to clubs that treat the competition with respect. 

Europa joy: Michu starred in Swansea City's terrific 3-0 victory over Valencia
Europa joy: Michu starred in Swansea City's terrific 3-0 victory over ValenciaDavid Ramos/Getty Images

The Swans have fully embraced their European adventure, and their 3-0 triumph over Valencia has widely been lauded as "one of the greatest nights in their history." per Wales Online. 

For a team that was playing Championship football only three years ago to go the Mestalla and outplay an outfit that has competed regularly in the Champions League is testament to the progress made by Swansea in such a short space of time. 

You would suspect that "finances" or "upcoming domestic fixtures" would have been the furthest thought from the minds of the people in charge at the Liberty Stadium as they basked in the glory of such a momentous occasion.

The victory represented a certain romance rarely seen in the modern game, a similar romance evident in Norwich City's own greatest night 20 years ago when the Canaries beat Bayern Munich in their own back yard.

You would like to think that Norwich would have ambitions to replicate Swansea's achievements one day, and considering that the two clubs were promoted to the Premier League in the same season, such an aspiration shouldn't be out of the question eventually.

Admittedly, there are negative aspects to European football, most notably the strains that it puts on the entire squad, as Newcastle United showed last season with their poor showing in the Premier League.

However, it is possible to get the balance right and remain competitive both domestically and on the continent, and the lure of European football would undeniably allow Norwich City to attract better players to enhance their squad.

Of course, with the Canaries currently sitting in the bottom three in the Premier League, the European dream still appears some way off reality, but even so, it's a dream that the club should never stop chasing.

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