There has been, in case you weren’t aware, considerable dissatisfaction amongst the supporters of a certain Premier League club.
A quick trawl of the message boards soon reveals the major concerns.
For a start, there’s widespread frustration at the team’s lack of goals:
“For a reputedly ‘good’ team to go through a goal drought for a few games on the trot is fairly common – nothing to worry about. For a reputedly good team to be almost a third of the way through a season and have 2 fewer goals than matches played is down to the manager – something to worry about.”
“…we huffed and puffed but it’s not happening…”
“There’s obviously something else wrong in attack… The problem I have is that with a third of the season gone, and lack of goals having been a glaring problem since day 1, the manager hasn’t been able to come up with a solution. Very worrying.”
The frustration is all the greater because of the unprecedented amount of money that was spent during the summer and the rise in expectations that came with this:
“There is absolutely no chance that [a certain striker] is worth the money they paid. An incredibly limited player. It’s starting to look like a lesson in how to waste [millions].”
“Not much of a return. And I am wearying of the ‘time to gel’ argument.”
Many fans are blaming the manager for the rigidity of his playing system and not knowing how to get the best out of the players he’s bought:
“…the baffling way he has bought [that certain striker] and then proceeded to play him with a system seemingly almost designed to destroy his effectiveness.”
“The true folly of a man(ager) is to see your weakness but do nothing about it. The system doesn’t work quite simply and it needs to be changed to draw the best out of what are becoming increasingly frustrated and frustrating summer signings.”
The attacking approach leaves a lot to be desired:
“The fundamental problem is the incredibly slow build up play and the fact that the majority of our passes go sideways or backwards, what are we trying to achieve by doing this? It allows the other team to just sit around by their box and clear it when we inevitably lose it or someone blasts it over.”
Or, more succinctly:
“YET ANOTHER flat, turgid, toothless load of rubbish.”
Yes, there have been games when the team has enjoyed the majority of possession – but they haven’t capitalised on it:
“The way we played in the 2nd half, we didn’t deserve to lose – a draw would have been a fair result. But then this is what happens when you don’t/can’t score regularly from open play! I wonder where the problem is, the system that they are playing or something else?”
In one match, there were an extraordinary number of attempts on goal:
“At least we can’t be blamed for not shooting… 31 shots.”
Though other supporters took a different view of this figure:
“A useless statistic. We have had a lot of shots but they were crap shots is all it means.”
For some supporters, the biggest problem is that the current manager is not the previous manager:
“The problem for many, myself included, is we’re now very dull. We’d leave a game in the [previous manager] era buzzing about the potential of our dynamic young players; our British core; our developing team of likeable players – people at the ground were not blindly following him; we saw his faults and where he needed to improve… The new man has got rid of most of the players who helped us (some of the departures were unavoidable) and replaced them with – on paper – technically better players. Better players should take much less time to acclimatise, even if the changes are wholesale.
“And yet what we have now is a truly woeful… side that only play when the fear of God is thrown at them; cannot score, don’t look like scoring and have shown little or no evidence to support the optimism of certain fans.”
Furthermore, some consider that the current style of play is not in what is considered to be the club’s tradition:
“[We} are a football club who base themselves on playing proper football… We are not about drab, fall asleep, tippy tappy it to the side football then a tan at goal from 30 yards out and hoping for an 80th minute penalty to get us over the line.”
But if a general consensus can be determined from all the comments, it’s that the manager should be allowed more time to get it right for now. Having said that, everyone is fully aware that the man who runs the club will not be afraid to take decisive action if improvement isn’t soon forthcoming.
The name of the club in question is… no, of course it’s not Norwich. That would be far too obvious. All the quotes above are about Spurs and André Villas-Boas.
Now at this point I should really make some insightful observations about the similarity of the situations. Let’s see…
1) Umm – there’s a lot of it about.
Or to put it another way: while it’s natural for us to be preoccupied with the fortunes of our own team, it’s useful – and a little comforting – to know that supporters of other teams in the same league are enduring the same frustrations.
2) Life in the Premier League doesn’t automatically get easier when you have more money to spend – or as a number of Spurs fans put it, to splash* up the wall. (*Not the word they actually use.)
3) On the whole, Norwich fans are no more or less patient than other supporters.
4) If Spurs have been that uninspiring so far this season, it’s all the more annoying that their one open, fluent display was against us.
Of course, there are differences between the two clubs – notably in the way the two managers have conducted themselves this season. While Chris Hughton’s frequent references to the quality of the opposition have irked some, he hasn’t caused the facepalms provoked by AVB’s pronouncements on the quietness of Spurs fans or Hugo Lloris’ head injury.
The latter incident reminded me of sometime Partick Thistle manager John Lambie’s response when told that one of his players was concussed and didn’t know who he was:
“That’s great, tell him he’s Pele and get him back on.”
I mention that, not just because it’s funny (health and safety issues notwithstanding), but because it seems kind of relevant to the team’s current mindset.
Following the West Ham game, some of the players’ comments suggested that they think they played like world-beaters in the second half. We-ell… in the cold light of the pub where I watched the game, the performance wasn’t that outstanding. Until the gift from Jaaskelainen, I couldn’t see us scoring. And only one of our goals came from open play.
But – if they all believe they’re Pele now, that may just help.