There’s nothing like the death of an ex-Prime Minister to ignite debate around the rights and wrongs of his or her political philosophy; the bigger the name, the bigger the legacy, the bigger the debate.
While politics in football remains mainly the preserve of the upper echelons – the FA, UEFA and FIFA notorious for their high-level power struggles – a few footballing figures have decided now is the time to chuck in their two-penneth.
The two-pronged request from Messrs Madjeski and Whelan – both confirmed beneficiaries of the Thatcher years – for a minute’s silence prior to the weekend games was sensibly declined by the FA. To expect any such plea to be wholly observed given the polarising effect of said lady was folly in the extreme and thankfully common sense has prevailed.
There are more than enough reasons to fall out with your Carrow Road neighbour without chucking political opinions into the mix; like debating the rights and wrongs of your manager for example.
The simmering discontent over Chris Hughton’s management style has taken on a life of its own of late – Twitter and the message-boards affording the dissenters a disproportionately loud voice – but the depth of feeling of some was brought home to me over my pre-match drink last Saturday.
Upon the release of the team news, a normally mild-mannered gent – who often stops by for some pre-match banter – decided to interrupt the convivial chat with an out-of-character, uncontained, wide-eyed, ashen faced rant ; Hughton’s decision to start with a virtually unchanged team seemingly tantamount to treason.
While not averse to a debate around all things green and yellow, on this occasion I felt it best – with the hackles on my neck rising – to head to the best yellow plastic seat in the world and leave my dad to test out his diplomacy skills.
As it turned out, it appears he did so quite successfully (at least that’s what he tells me), by using the old “whose shoes would you rather be in” technique – a method he’s honed to perfection over the years, even in less prosperous Norwich City times.
Those of you who, like me, live on the border – and have no option but to mix with supporters of ‘that lot’ on a daily basis – will be familiar with said method; comparing the two clubs on a like for like basis from all angles, and see who comes out on top.
While the object of the exercise is to prove what we already know – that City are in an infinitely better position right now – there have been occasions in the past when this could only be achieved with the benefit of yellow-tinted spectacles.
Not any more…
Without wanting to appear churlish (childish even) there are a few obvious ones:
At the end of this season City will be free of external debt; Ipswich (there, I’ve said it) recently announced a loss of nearly £16m in the financial year 2011-12 as the debt to their owner, the mysterious Marcus Evans, rose to more than £72m (their total debt now around £80m).
City are proud owners of both Carrow Road and Colney; Ipswich have long since ceased to be owner-occupiers of Portman Road and have recently sold their training ground, Playford Road, to a company owned by the kind-hearted Mr Evans.
City play to a full Carrow Road of 26,500+ every week; Town are salivating at the prospect of a bumper 20,000 crowd on Saturday when Hull City swagger into town.
City recently announced the summer arrival of Ricky van Wolfswinkel for a reported £8.5m – thereby smashing their record transfer fee – with plans already afoot to add more quality to the squad; Mick McCarthy’s squad will require a complete summer rebuild with the current one bolstered by 6/7 loan players and a similar number out of contract.
City’s football academy has been granted category one status and the U18s are currently only a game away from a place in the FA Youth Cup final; Town opted for a category two academy set-up.
Norwich is officially a fine City; Ipswich is a.… town (Ok… that one was childish – they did win the FA Cup in 1978 after all).
But you get the gist… and that’s without stooping to ‘paying off creditors at 5p in the £’ levels.
While things have been a little grim of late – both in terms of style and form – we could all benefit from taking a step back; things could be a whole lot worse. With David McNally at the rudder the journey has been undeniably thrilling and even if this season has seen a levelling off – a small step backwards even – it’s no cause for panic and delirium.
So before we fire off tweets and emails to the CEO telling him how he should be doing his job, and before we get the hump if things don’t go to plan at the Emirates, just take a good look around us.
Yes, there are those who have leap-frogged us in the pecking order right now (I’m thinking Swansea and Southampton) but there are infinitely more who’d give their own ground to be in City’s position.
If the worst happens – and I don’t think it will – we’ll still be supporters of a club that’s virtually free of debt, is asset-rich and which has a loyal and ever-growing fan base.
We’ll also be supporters of a club that has a habit of doing things the right way; a club run by decent people.
Not bad for a ‘small club to the north’ – now bring on the Arsenal.
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