At this moment in time, it’s nigh on impossible to predict the outcome of any popular vote, whether it’s in the world of politics or on a talent show (I use the word talent in the loosest possible sense).
Over recent weeks and months, the people have spoken. They’re just not using a language I understand.
So for someone who has correctly called the last six winners of City’s Player of the Season Award (and made a few quid along the way) it could represent a problem.
That is if it wasn’t for my ‘secret formula’. No gut-feel or intuition necessary because I’ve got a system and as it’s getting close to the festive season I’m even prepared to share it.
Despite recent events demonstrating the foolishness of predicting anything, I’m fully confident that the next winner of the Barry Butler Trophy will be determined by the following formula:
Popularity = (E*(AD / AE)+(Gs*I)+N)/O
Not convinced? Let me explain…
E – Effort
E is for effort (as my old school reports can testify). But God loves a trier and so does Carrow Road. So a sure fire way of gaining popularity and winning a place in the hearts of the Canary faithful is to run around.
Think of those players who chase a lost cause; the ones who go tearing after a back-pass when we all know (including them) that there’s absolutely no chance of getting there before the keeper. We love them for it right?
It’s even better if that futile chase ends up with the ball being wellied into their nether regions.
After all, what could forge a closer bond than when a player feels some genuine empathy with the fans? And what could be a greater metaphor for the life of the common man than straining every sinew chasing after something before getting one square in the nuts?
(AD / AE) – Ability Displayed divided by Ability Expected
Question – Why is it that a centre-half can get a round of applause for launching the ball into row Z whilst a striker gets roundly jeered for doing exactly the same thing?
Answer – Different expectations.
The ability of a player to deliver or even exceed what we expected of them will always make them popular.
For certain players, that simply means not making a howler or screwing things up. For others – those with a hefty price tag or reputation for example – the expectations are higher.
Expectations can change over time of course. Half an hour into his City debut, most of us reasonably expected Ricky Van Wolfswinkel to notch forty goals that season. By the end of the year we’d have been happy for him to pass to someone in a yellow shirt.
(Gs*I) – Number of goals (with ‘surprise’ weighting) multiplied by Ipswich factor
The Indian guru Osho apparently stated that ‘life without goals becomes meaningless’
Football without goals is even more so.
Fans love goals and especially those that come as a surprise; the forty-yarder into the top corner; the last minute winner against the run of play; the one from the full-back who normally gets a nosebleed if he goes any higher than the halfway line.
Score a memorable goal and your popularity soars.
Score a goal against Ipswich and you’re well on the way to the Hall of Fame.
Holty, Wes, Leon, Malky and Bradderz were all immortalised in song for scoring against ‘them down the road’.
Then again, so were ‘half of f***ing Norwich’
N – Norwich attachment
According to Keith O’Neill, the best thing about Norwich is the road to London.
According to my Dad, the best thing about Keith O’Neill was him leaving.
Nobody expects our players to go native and develop a broad Norfolk accent. Nor are we going to be fooled by them repeatedly kissing the badge like a politician kisses a baby in a gratuitous display of insincerity.
But we do value those who genuinely recognise that whilst they’re at Norwich City, they get to play for a fantastic football club and live in a very beautiful part of the world.
Anyone (apart from Keith O’Neill) can trot out the standard “great club – great fans” soundbites but those ‘great fans’ know which players genuinely care about the club.
It’s no surprise that those who grew to love Norwich City and Norfolk as a whole, found a place both in our hearts and the Hall of Fame.
It’s also no surprise that many of them still live here.
O – Opportunities
Not to be confused with appearances, a player’s popularity can vary dramatically based on the number of opportunities he’s given – or the opportunities that he’s denied.
Those players who are seemingly ‘un-droppable’ despite mediocre performances or glaring mistakes can quickly find their popularity nose-dive quicker than someone who has been accused of compromising national security on a personal email server.
Conversely, a lack of perceived opportunities can give rise to the ‘cult hero’ – a player who has done nothing to warrant any form of adulation except for not being selected to play.
These are players whose lack of appearances in public grant them an almost mythical status. On the rare occasion that they do feature (normally on the substitutes bench), they can trot down the touchline to do a few stretches and be greeted like it’s the second coming of the messiah.
That is until they’re finally given the opportunities on the pitch and people realise that the reason they weren’t picked to begin with is because they’re basically rubbish.
So there you have it – the no-longer-secret ‘secret formula’. I’ve run the calculations and as things stand, I’ve got Jacob Murphy at the top of my list. However there’s a long way to go and let’s face it these are strange times we’re living in.
Just ask Ed Balls.
Steve posts on Twitter @stevocook