Defeat at the Hawthorns was hard to take… no doubt about that; but we still have much to be thankful for.
The pain we all felt at around 4:50 yesterday was presumably the type experienced by supporters of the ‘big boys’ on the rare occasion they taste defeat. Not a nice feeling, but one that goes a long way to explaining why our friends from the North West and North London are such sore losers.
A quick look back at the Manchester Utd messageboards for the evening of Saturday 17 November 2012 will confirm precisely how bitter they can get when the seemingly impossible happens.
At least Barcelona can rest a little easier now they don’t have the Canaries breathing down their necks in that well-known European ‘top league’ form table. I’m sure Messi, Xavi and Iniesta slept so much more soundly on Saturday night.
Given that our fantastic run had been due solely to an appalling run of bad luck/ shocking form/wrong planet alignment (delete as appropriate) for ten different opponents there was a certain irony in the way it all ended.
Unless your name is Alan Hansen, there appeared little doubt that Mark Bunn was impeded by Peter Odemwingie during the lead-up to the first goal, but we can have few complaints.
The old adage of making your own luck has certainly rung true for the life of the unbeaten run, but we have also enjoyed our fair share.
Yes, a couple of decisions did go against us, but so be it. Some you win…
Chris Hughton’s response to defeat was as you’d expect; calm, dignified and non-dramatic. His philosophy of treating triumph and disaster the same was put to the test yesterday and, as we’ve come to expect, he delivered.
If that same mindset is instilled in his players then this River-Ender has an inkling that we’ll be ‘getting back on the horse’ sooner than many expect.
Interestingly this week provided a few more insights into what makes our leader tick.
John Ruddy’s guest appearance on BBC’s Football Focus provided not only confirmation that he is indeed a ‘gentle giant’, but also gave us a sneaky peek behind the scenes at Colney. We already had an idea that Hughton was a hands-on type of gaffer, but to hear it first-hand was intriguing.
Even more so when it was compared to the man-management orientated style of that Scottish bloke.
While it is clear that the much fabled team spirit – such a crucial element in the success of the old regime – has been retained, one gets the impression that Colney now has a rather different feel to it.
Not a return to the Costa del Colney approach of yesteryear, but one that now involves an industrious little bloke in a tracksuit who hands out bibs, puts out cones, actively takes coaching sessions and answers to the name ‘gaffer’.
Tellingly, his work ethic also extends to watching games involving young Canaries of all ages, in addition to countless forays across the Norfolk border to watch opposition and possible transfer targets.
In short, an insatiable appetite for all things football; especially when the current beneficiaries are Norwich City FC.
Another enlightening snippet came courtesy of a post-match tweet from BBC FiveLive’s, Pat Murphy. Having bumped into Hughton in a Hawthorns corridor, directly after yesterday’s defeat, he felt sufficiently moved by our leader’s unconditional politeness and dignity to inform the social media world; the inference being that this is something of a rarity in top flight football in the aftermath of a loss.
Further evidence, if it were needed, that we not only have ourselves a ‘top football man’ but also a thoroughly good and decent human being.
Not for the first time, the travelling Yellow Army can feel extremely proud of its contribution to events at the Hawthorns, Not only did they out-sing their Midland counterparts – not unusual for an away support – but they provided the ‘song of the day’ with their Michael Turner version of Walking in a Winter Wonderland. I can’t repeat it on here word-for-word but, trust me, it was genius.
With the affable Mr Hughton asking for a positive reaction from his players, the challenges don’t come much bigger with Chelsea and Manchester City shortly due at Carrow Road.
Whilst I’m not expecting any of the class of 2012/13 to over-indulge over the Festive period, they do at least have the pleasure of spending larger chunks of it with their families than those with away fixtures.
If they can utilise this crumb of advantage, then what’s to fear. After all… Lambert’s Villa are bound to soften Chelsea up for us aren’t they?
Happy Christmas to one and all.
On the Ball City.
Michael D says
This is a great column, Gary. And I agree, it is making me increasingly proud to support a team that has Chris Hughton as manager, as he is clearly a tremendous human being. I think that is especially remarkable considering he is the only non-white manager in all the top leagues in Europe, and I salute the man, his dignity and incredible work ethic on behalf of City. Long may we prosper together!