A thoroughly miserable day for City fans. But have our play-off hopes really gone for a Burton?Tue 21 Feb 17 by Stewart Lewis
“We pessimists have everything to gain, whereas optimists
have a 50-50 chance of being disappointed”
I get the reasons to be a pessimist, and sometimes wish I could join them. We were all depressed on Saturday evening after Burton, but pessimists at least had the consolation of feeling justified.
Optimist or pessimist, what we all suffered on Saturday was a big dollop of disappointment.
No getting away from Saturday being a bad one, following the raft of let-downs for Norwich City fans between October and December.
Burton was perhaps even worse than those, because our hopes had been raised by the one-defeat-in-nine run.
The pessimists’ mood was perhaps encapsulated in one tweet:
“Our season is over. FACT”
Saturday was a blow to our rekindled playoff hopes. Question is: was it a fatal blow?
Mathematically, certainly not. There are some 40 points left to play for. Not only do we have the direct opportunity to gain ground on the teams now 2nd to 6th in our games against them, but they’ll automatically drop points in games against each other.
Reading’s next seven games, for instance, include Newcastle, Brighton, Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday.
So, maths isn’t the issue. The issue is form. Stepping back from the disappointment of the weekend, that’s surely open to different interpretations. Burton was another unsatisfactory day; more performances like that will clearly prove the pessimists right. And unless we improve our away record, we’ll fall short.
On the other hand, our level of performance in other games since the turn of the year presents a different picture. Having decided before Christmas that Alex Neil couldn’t inspire a good run with the players at Carrow Road, I’ve had to put that judgement on hold.
Social media on Saturday night revealed something interesting. Fans of every club above us wrote about their pleasure and relief that Norwich had lost. Some of our own fans may have given up on our chances, but our rivals certainly still fear us.
One thing for sure: we have to get back on track straight away, meaning this coming Sunday and Ipswich. It’s no excuse for Saturday’s performance, but a shame that some of our more combative players – Pinto, Mulumbu, Naismith – weren’t available.
Encouragingly, it sounds as if we’ll have more options for the derby.
Timing is everything (as my girlfriends used to say).
In the build-up to derby day, I ought to offer you a rabble-rousing piece on the superiority of all things Norwich City. I should be extolling our virtues in contrast to the arrogance and stupidity of other clubs and their fans, especially that lot from down the A140.
That’s all good fun – but this time I’ll leave it to others.
In truth, it’s hard to sustain some of those feelings. Undoubtedly Norwich City has great fans. I had the pleasure of some of their company at last week’s Canaries Trust AGM, where Rob Butler and Chris Goreham gave us a brilliant open forum discussion (also a humbling experience for me – despite the harsh things I’ve said about Rob and Canary Call, he was as friendly to me as to everyone else).
But here’s the thing: other clubs have great fans too. Anyone who reads my fellow MFW columnist Paul Armstrong will recognize a good guy who’s been through with Middlesbrough much of what we’ve been through with the Canaries (in fact, we can learn something about ourselves and our club from Paul’s pieces).
I talked to some Newcastle fans after last Tuesday’s game. Decent people who travel vast distances – as we do – to follow their team. I found plenty of humour and no arrogance.
A recent business contact turned out to be a life-long Leeds supporter. Never thought I’d say this, but I actually feel sympathy for him and (most of) his fellow fans. Whatever we think of arrangements at Norwich, Leeds fans have been let down by truly appalling ownership and management.
I can’t go quite as far as to feel sorry for Ipswich fans. And I’m as fired up as ever to beat their team.
Meanwhile, I’m taking solace from the words of the American science fiction writer Robert A Heinlein:
“A pessimist is correct more often than an optimist is,
but an optimist has more fun”