Liquid football. That’s how Norwich’s most famous fictional late-night radio DJ would have described the Canaries triumph in the richest game in world football.
While Alan Partridge may not have been in attendance at Wembley on Monday, Middlesbrough’s defending in the 2-0 defeat was every bit as cringe-inducing as a sit down with Tony Hayers.
Delia Smith and Stephen Fry were able to rejoice in winning football’s £120m prize while the hardy Boro faithful were left as teary-eyed as if they had been eating spoonfuls of Colman’s Mustard.
The financial importance of the winning the Championship play-off final had never been as great as it had for Monday’s two sides, with a place in the Premier League and the rewards of a bumper new television deal all there for the taking.
With Norwich bouncing back to English football’s top flight at the first time of asking under the stewardship of the excellent Alex Neil, current Premier League sides will have delighted in the fact that they will now share the £24m parachute payment that had been due to the Canaries at the beginning of next season.
But Boro, who have come on immeasurably since hiring Spaniard Aitor Karanka, would have, for me, been the better suited of the two to make a fist of it next season in the top tier.
It’s been six years since Boro were last in the Premier League but, given the current woeful state of football in the North East, they could have made ground on Newcastle and Sunderland and become an established outfit. They have all the necessary tools.
Norwich, as colourful as their yellow kit and famous directors are, smack of being a yo-yo side and I feel that cutting his teeth in the Premier League too soon could be to the detriment of 33-year-old Neil’s burgeoning managerial career. After all, he has only taken charge of 25 games as boss of the Carrow Road club.
It would have been interesting to see how Karanka would have taken to managing at the top level and if he would have been able to exert some of his influence gained in Spanish football at Real Madrid to bring in some players capable of making a real difference at the Riverside.
But Norwich were deserving winners on the day, of that there can be no doubt. I don’t think it will be too long until they will be needing that parachute payment, though.