This is probably a daft question; easily answered.
But does anyone actually enjoy supporting their favourite English Premier League football team? Like really enjoy.
Enjoyment was obviously easy when it was everyone’s favourite League One and Championship football team; and there was the enjoyment that comes with the novelty of a first season back in the top flight.
And, of course, there are 45 minutes like those on Saturday when the footballing fates suddenly decide to smile; when – backs firmly pressed against the wall – character on and off the pitch rises to the fore.
But it strikes me that life in the English Premier League for clubs of a certain, middle rank is as much a test of endurance as anything.
No-one enjoys being anywhere near that bottom three, but the reality is that if you have a run of games against the top seven, you will be there or thereabouts – just as much as if you have a run of games against the lesser lights, then you can ‘enjoy’ the brief respite that being 12th or 14th brings.
Enjoying a good cup run – as Norwich have this season, albeit by their lowly standards – lasts as long as the cup draw allows. Be thrown in against a United 2nd XI then delivers a long and expensive night out in Manchester.
With, in City’s case, the prospect of a return visit and a repeat experience looming large.
That the Canary faithful travel in such great numbers and in such voice is a huge testament to their own, deep-seated sense of loyalty – one that is bound ever more to a real feeling of being duty-bound to sing myself hoarse at grounds six-hours hence.
It also crosses my mind that the bond between local players and local supporters is also something of a previous age; I doubt this crop of players are as open and available for simple conversations as the team that had a Crook, a Goss or a Gunn at its heart.
Maybe conversation comes through different mediums – Elliott Bennett knows how to turn his Twitter following to charitable advantage. Perhaps that is where the ‘bond’ now lies?
But it is something that I find myself returning to all too often; that what, actually, has the Premier League to offer the long-suffering supporter of a Norwich or a West Brom, a Stoke or a Villa?
However much Paul Lambert might have sprinkled his magic dust over the Canaries in that extraordinary spell at the helm, I don’t get any sense of Villa doing much more than being another team in the mid-table mix. I have no feeling for them being the new Everton.
I guess if you asked the nearest Southampton fan, they would say that they are having the time of their recent lives; they, too, have plumbed some serious depths. But can now look down on neighbours Portsmouth with a sense of smug satisfaction. It may be a while before those two cross paths again in the league.
And yet such South Coast derbies were ‘the games I always looked forward to… The games that I used to really enjoy…’
Such is the warped nature of English football’s finances that it sends one into (brief) delirium, the other towards oblivion.
The media, too, will play a part.
Find yourself anywhere near the bottom three and everyone reaches for a new dictionary – club in crisis, on the brink, staring down the barrel, facing the abyss. None of which are designed to improve the punter’s mood as they head for another fraught afternoon being put through the emotional mill.
Perhaps that is where the enjoyment does come in; the Fer-inspired highs after the Morrison-fed lows.
But it is certainly not a relaxing way to spend any Saturday afternoon; free from the stresses and strains of the working week…
Maybe, as a society, we have come to thrive on high drama; roller-coaster rides that swing between abject despair and total delight are what we find ‘enjoyment’ in.
I’m probably getting old. Although I’ve always been one for something of a quieter life.
But, for me, enjoying a simple game of football is – or was – one of life’s more simple pleasures.
Now the whole experience of being a supporter seems altogether more complex. Let alone more expensive – which in turn can only feed my level of frustration if I sense I am not getting full value for my hard-earned money.
And I will vent such anger across a whole new raft of platforms and audiences; seven days a week.
To yearn for the simple days of the Championship is probably the wrong way to think, but I’d make a small wager with you that for many a seasoned City punter one of the most enjoyable seasons in recent memory would be that one in the third tier of English football and not the first.
Being in the top tier of the greatest professional football league in the world is all too much like hard work.