In case you missed the news, it’s Shakespeare Week. An idea that would have amused the Bard no end, I suspect.
In a way, it’s surprising the authorities are so keen for us to study Shakespeare. His most famous plays involve witchcraft and bumping off the royal family (Macbeth), gang warfare and underage sex (Romeo & Juliet), and various gullible, unsuitable or downright nasty monarchs (King Lear, Richard III et al).
Then there’s Hamlet: a play so bloody that barely a significant character survives to the end. Midsomer Murders, eat your heart out (as it were).
The mayhem results from Hamlet’s pivotal decision. He has reason to believe his father has been murdered and usurped by his uncle. Should he let it go, or fight back? His choice to fight is admirable (nobler in the mind, for sure) but sets off a terrible sequence of events.
On the most minor of scales – I know it’s a stretch, but bear with me – I have my Hamlet moment here.
It’s the nature of football fans to be argumentative. I’m told that in Liverpool’s heyday when they dominated Europe, the local paper was filled with letters castigating the manager’s team selection, signings and tactics. With exceptions you could count on one hand, fans of every club in the land are currently arguing about their team’s direction.
As Ed Couzens-Lake so eloquently described it here a few days ago, the football world is full of discontent and division.
It’s natural, of course, for there to be special disquiet around Norwich. Two years ago we were in the Premier League. Better decisions might have kept us there; be that as it may, we went down and – worse – failed to get back with a strong and highly paid squad. As a result, we’ve gone from being financially healthy to requiring creative skills.
There are many shades of opinion about where we now stand, but essentially two camps. I’m in the one that says you have to play the ball where it lies, Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke represent our best chance to rebuild, and they should be supported with time and money (including ours). In other words, the patience and transition camp.
Others take a different view.
So: should I come out with all guns blazing (in the words of the famous mixed metaphor, take arms against a sea of troubles), not giving an inch to the other side, or let it go?
Or perhaps something in the middle.
Two reasons not to come out with all guns blazing. First – though some of my Twitter correspondents might disagree – I don’t seek confrontation. I’d much rather find common ground and build from there.
Second, of course, this isn’t like Hamlet. In that case, there was clear-cut right and wrong. Our case is more typical: though it’s comforting to imagine all the arguments are on one side, it’s patently not true.
Those who’ve argued against me on this site not only have some justified points, they also garner a lot of likes. Though I’ve been accused of it, it’s neither my place nor inclination to tell fellow fans their opinions are wrong.
One thing I will do, as I’d expect others to do to me. Factual error and misrepresentation should be called out; no compromise.
Beyond that, we have different but valid views. When the Impatients – if I may call them that – say that City have failed all season to create chances, they’re right. We’re on course to concede 20 fewer goals than last season, a clear step forward despite a lower wage bill – but we’re also on course to be among the lowest scorers in the Championship. That’s got to change, and Farke hasn’t yet shown us he knows how.
While we’ve been pretty good – sometimes outstanding – away from Carrow Road, our home record remains cause for alarm. Again, we wait for evidence of change (I’d suggest that Hernandez might be part of the solution, but it’s early days).
While acknowledging those points, it seems to me we have to take into account the scale of change we instituted a year ago. And the positives, including the ability of Webber and Farke to unearth bargains such Zimmermann and Trybull. All in all, it inclines me to argue for giving Webber and his chosen Head Coach more time.
In the big scheme of things, I can’t feel our record of eight seasons in the Premier League (including four of the past eight years) is too terrible. What grates is that we failed to sustain the foothold we achieved in 2011-13. Serious mistakes were made – most by people no longer at the club, but some involving people still there.
Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke were of course not part of the mistakes. It’s only opinion, of course, but I believe our Premier League money would have been better overseen by Stuart. If we think that may be true, we should surely want him to be backed as far as possible now.
Is that a strong opinion of mine? Yes. Do I think I have a monopoly on rightful thinking and judgement? Absolutely not.
Opinion among the writers of this site is much more diverse than a year ago. It might make for a lively end-of-season meal, but I’m happy about it.
We’re privileged that Gary allows us these soliloquys. And I’m happy to acknowledge that a good number of the other writers’ are better than mine.