For the first time in a while – three years to be precise – it’s tough being a member of the Yellow Army.
There is no doubt the Premiership table makes grim reading at the moment and – thanks to the international break – it’s going to look grim for a while yet.
Equally, I’m tired of having to give Saturday night’s Match of the Day a swerve. No complaints from my other half – who now has control of the remote between 10:15 and 11:45 – but to my simple mind, a Saturday night without MOTD just isn’t… well, Saturday night.
As hard as I try, the pain inflicted by Hansen, Shearer and co when they remind us how ‘poor’ we are at the moment is nigh on tangible.
Illogical of course – it is their job after all – but there’s something uncomfortable about hearing criticism of those in yellow from someone who is not one of us. We can say what we like – we’ve paid for the privilege – but this member of the Gowers’ household gets very uppity if Hansen even dares to question the starting position of our back-four.
And don’t even get me started on Shearer, when he questions the quality of our passing before again reminding us what a tough season we have in front of us. If he can keep awake long enough that is.
Please don’t bother questioning the logic of my stance on MOTD – there is none – but I find any negativity towards those in green and yellow from ‘outsiders’ very hard to stomach. I’m sure I can’t be alone?
The remedy to this irrational behaviour is both simple and obvious… a Norwich win. Preferably then followed by some more wins and an occasional clean sheet. Doesn’t seem too much to ask when you say it like that.
Except, in the Premiership a string of wins IS almost too much to ask.
We were spoilt last season – no doubt about it – in fact; we have been thoroughly spoiled over the last three.
In many ways the Lambert years now seem akin to a dream – one of those dreams so beautiful that when you wake up, you do so with the right hump. One of those ‘Why can’t life really be like that?’ dreams.
And now we’re all wide awake and reality has struck.
In fact, what has really happened is that the last few grains of ‘honeymoon’ have finally filtered away. We did well – had a good run – and dragged the momentum gained from winning League One out for the best part of two seasons.
And as much as we all hate to admit it, the day that Paul Lambert set off down the A14 was the day it all ground to a halt. No-one’s fault – certainly not Chris Hughton’s – but whoever came in to replace the Scotsman was immediately tasked with moving an almost inert object.
In reality, our collective wish that Hughton should hit the ground running was an implausible one… an almost impossible task. The juice had run out; second season syndrome was about to kick in; Lambert knew it; and it’s maybe why he walked.
That’s not to say Hughton won’t make it work. I may be in an ever decreasing majority, but I still believe he WILL eventually do so – but it is going to take time. More time than any of us had envisaged. Whether he is afforded that from supporters, and ultimately those in power, remains to be seen – but it clearly isn’t going to be the seamless transition we had all hoped.
In fairness, Hughton foresaw the problem before most of us, and clearly walked into the job with his eyes open.
A liberal dose of reality was the one thing missing from his Carrow Road fanfare; something which perhaps in hindsight would have eased some of the pain that currently exists.
An ex-colleague smacked the nail bang on the head when, after the Fulham game, he tweeted ‘… problem for #NCFC is that we look a sum of our parts right now…’ and therein lies the key. A fair bit of choppy water has passed under the proverbial since then, but the issue still resonates.
The great strength of Lambert – amongst many – was his ability to engender a team ethic so strong that for them to ‘punch above their weight’ was the norm. The honeymoon dust also played its part.
Hughton undoubtedly has many strengths of his own but – to date – dragging every last ounce of quality out of a workmanlike bunch of youngsters hasn’t needed to be one of them. His CV shows a coaching and managerial career of working with proven ‘quality’; even his Birmingham team in the Championship was littered with Premiership experience.
To manage and motivate – in equal measures – a squad of good, but not high-end players is new to Hughton. Similarly, Lambert has had to acquire a new string to his managerial bow with the Villa squad not currently being awash with impressionable youngsters.
Interestingly, with the Villa Park clash looming, one of numerous sub-plots will be the one that highlights who is the quicker learner.
For reasons too numerous – and too obvious – to mention, I hope it’s Hughton’s half-term report that makes the better reading at around 2:45pm on 27 October. If nothing else, the Gowers remote control will be back with its rightful owner.