Opinions are like a***holes. Everybody has got one but that doesn’t mean they should be revealed online.
So rather than add to the wealth of advice that’s been thrown the way of Alex Neil or offering up yet more starting XI’s for next weekend, this piece is about silver linings.
Because as things stand, we’re hurtling back to the Championship but would relegation really be so bad?
In a word – yes.
But if that is to be our fate then I’d like to share some silver linings or rather the ten things I genuinely dislike about the Premier League.
When I first started going to Carrow Road, Norwich were rubbish. So rubbish it was several months before I realised we were called Norwich City and not Norwich Nil. But back then I knew no different. I hadn’t experienced the narcotic effects of watching Norwich win. For a football fan there’s no better feeling than hearing the whistle that signals a victory. Conversely the world becomes a pretty dark place when City lose and in the Premier League we lose a lot. Our current form has more ‘L’s in it than that Welsh village with the stupidly long name and it’s horrible (our form, not the village).
9] Game times
I’m not a particularly organised person. I don’t arrange my sock drawer or alphabetise my DVD collection, but I do like a 3pm. Saturday kick-off. Aside from the lay-in, I get a couple of pre-match ‘looseners’ at the pub and the chance to toast a victory or drown my sorrows (see 10) immediately after. Most importantly, I have a full day to compose myself / sober up before work on a Monday. But thanks to Sky and BT, the fixtures (and my mind) become so messed up that I usually come out of Carrow Road like a bemused traveller, exiting an airport in some far flung corner of the globe with no idea of what the local time is.
8] Match of the Day
Perhaps the only benefit to number 10 is that when we lose I don’t watch Match of the Day. So in reality it’s not often that I’m faced with the prospect of watching Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer pretend that they know or indeed care about any team outside of the ‘big four’, plus Leicester, plus whichever team is the current media darling (see 4). Then there’s the insight and punditry of Ian Wright, who can’t even be bothered to learn the names of our players and so refers to them as “him”, “him” and “him” following a couple of minutes of superficial highlights.
Sky Sports love a good statistic and as one of the division’s lesser lights, most of ours are negative. With the rise of social media, they have new avenues to continue the stat-bombardment. On my Twitter feed the other day, the Sky account tweeted that Norwich had kept the fewest clean sheets. I’m not sure why they decided to share this information. I am fully aware that we have as much chance of keeping a clean sheet as a man with dysentery and as such, random reminders of just how poor we are really don’t help.
6] ‘Little Norwich’
In the Championship we were seen as a big fish. However, in the top flight we still seem to carry the stigma of ‘little Norwich’. In certain sections of the media we get pigeon-holed as a small club in the middle of nowhere, which is owned by a cook who got tipsy and went on the pitch and which is supported by gap-toothed fans who ‘don’t speak proper’. Granted they’ve got a point but it’s still irritating.
Maybe it’s the impact of number 6, but I am convinced that we don’t get our fair share of decisions. Outside of these parts, an incident which costs Norwich a game is unlikely to attract the same attention or criticism as those which deny a higher profile club. Worse still is the ‘celebrity referee’. The ones who posture about the pitch, making sure the game revolves around them and firing off sarcastic comments to the managers. They’ve spent so much time on TV, getting pally with the big-name players that they’ve forgotten they’re just blokes with whistles who back in their school-days were the ones who got picked last at football.
4] Fake rivalries with media darlings
Last time it was Swansea, this time it’s Bournemouth; teams which were promoted alongside us but which subsequently captured the national media’s imagination in a way that we didn’t. The praise being heaped on Eddie Howe and the whole Bournemouth fairy tale has become tiresome. It’s annoying but nothing more than that. It’s certainly not worthy of the grief on social media and animosity between two sets of supporters who share no natural rivalry. Having a pop at Bournemouth makes us appear petty and jealous but worse it reinforces number 6.
3] Ticket prices
It’s admirable that the club have frozen ticket prices for season. But in the top flight you have five fewer home matches for your money and most of them end in defeat. Then there’s the cost of going away. I took my dad and my son down to Chelsea earlier this season when I could have spent the money on a semi-detached house in Grimsby. Not that I’d want one.
2] Missed chances
When I was 17, I failed to ask a girl called Becky out on a date for fear of rejection. Years later I met the grown-up (married) version and she was a fashion model. She admitted that she had ‘liked’ me at school but was too shy to say anything. However in the grand scale of ‘what might have been’ this will still haunt me less than the memory of Cameron Jerome skying a ball over the Everton bar from 6 yards out. Chances are few and far between in the Premier League. Missed chances are therefore all the more painful.
Whether it’s the clamour to spend millions of pounds on new players, or the belief that we should appoint Jose Mourinho as caretaker manager (copyright of the Pink Un forum), the demands and expectations of the Yellow Army have taken on whole new levels. The conversations which play out on Radio Norfolk’s Canary Call, are reflective of those that take place around the bars of Carrow Road and demonstrate a genuine lack of perspective. We could (and should) dare to dream that one day the planets will align and we’ll ‘do a Leicester’. However in all likelihood, for a club such as ours, every season spent in the top flight will be a long and drawn out struggle, putting up with all the above and trying to scrape enough points in order to earn the right to do it all again the year after.
I still hope we stay up though!
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevocook but please don’t tweet about a lack of clean sheets