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
colin m says
Applaud your honesty Steve.
After two relegations and three promotions in seven seasons you’d think we could get used to it, like the wife’s nagging. However,the older I get somehow the harder this is to bear, made worse in a way by last season’s euphoria. I was so certain it would be different this time. How much better would it be if Bournemouth were now bottom!
Look, we will all be ok and if another relegation awaits come August we will be smiling, wagging our tails and waiting for Mick Mc’s men to arrive.
1) I desperately hope we stay up
2) I’d rather Mourinho than Rodgers, but really I’d stick with Alex Neil stay up or go down
3) regrettably our defence is f#@%ing s&*t
4) when we do win in the premier league it is that much sweeter
“Alphabetise”? Puleeze! Yet more American English creeping in? Why not throw in a liberal sprinkling of ‘ossums’?
Were you born in Norfolk – Norfolk, Virginia, that is?
Bob in Diss says
Great read Steve although the ‘R’ word is a little premature to be discussing.
There seem to be a number of ‘fans’ writing this season off already with what 13 games left to play! That’s what I call support guys – be proud.
Warts and all, the PL is the place to be (unless you’re the Derby chairman seemingly). Life would go on if we were to plunge but let’s stay positive while we have games and points to play for.
Nick(3) – I think you’ve won ‘top pedant’ of the day to focus exclusively on one word in a 1000 word article! No views on the rest?
e j mason says
agree with points 5 and 8 !!
Stewart Lewis says
Nice one, Steve – an entertaining and persuasive read.
And yet, some nagging concerns. On expectations, I fear the genie is out of the bottle. When we think of last season, it’s Wembley and that glorious day, performance and result. But along the way there was plenty of discontent, and it would be the same (or worse) next time round.
For many of our fans, nothing would be satisfactory except for us to waltz untroubled to automatic promotion. But it doesn’t work that way – ask fans of Cardiff and Fulham who came down with us. Only one in four teams relegated from the Premier League go straight back up. We did it before, but the odds would be against a repeat – and all kinds of unhappiness would then be unleashed.
Your piece raises some big questions:
. how many of our favourite players would we be able to keep?
. would Alex Neil (in my view, one of the best things to happen to our club for many years) stay?
. when we alphabetise our DVD collections, should all the ones starting ‘The’ be listed under ‘T’?
. does Becky read these columns?
Ben K says
I agree with Bob. What’s all this relegation talk nonsense?! 39 points to play for. Form is temporary. There are some decent players in the squad and if the new players, especially Naismith, find their groove and a system is settled on we could surprise a few teams who might be expecting an easy ride. West Ham played two hours of football last night with many first team regulars in the side (only four outfield changes made to the XI that played against Saints at the weekend), so if the attitude is right a result could be there for the taking on Saturday. We’ve seen a season where results have been even more difficult to predict than usual, where ‘anything can happen’.
There will be no silver linings if and when we are relegated. The Premier League is THE only place to be and the more seasons we do not compete in it, the more we will be left behind by the established Premier League clubs. Patronising comments by many in the media of “The Championship is a great division” make me squirm, it’s not a ‘great league’ it’s a graveyard for once great clubs who will never reach the heights that they did in the past.
We must stay up at all costs even if it means parting company with the manager. Six defeats on the spin now which in all probability will become SEVEN on Saturday, how many more will it take before AN is given his P45? Out thought, ought of ideas and out of his depth.
Rant Over !
Gary Gowers says
Smiffy – “… when we are relegated”, followed by “We must stay up at all costs…” ?
Don’t give up yet fella… still some twists and turns to come. AN’s learning in the harshest environment in football; IMHO we need to get behind him.
Ben K says
Please, Smiffy, enlighten us all by telling us who it is that should replace Alex Neil as manager?
Dave B says
You forgot #11. We will likely be in profit again this year so McNally can get his bonus again.
Sid in Holt says
Smiffy – Neil Warnock would be an ideal replacement for his experience presumably?
Alphabetise (at least Steve didn’t spell it with a ‘z’) is in the English dictionary whether you like it or not. So is the word ‘trump’ alas.
Stewart Lewis says
Dave B (10) – You and I often disagree on interpretation, but at least you usually have some facts right. The fact is that McNally’s remuneration is much more dependent on the Club’s playing success (ie which division we’re in) than on profitability. Hence his statement in 2015 that he’d much rather be reporting a loss (with Premier League bonuses paid) than the profit he could report without them.
Dave B says
@ Stewart Lewis “The fact is that McNally’s remuneration is much more dependent on the Club’s playing success (ie which division we’re in) than on profitability.”
Was that why that season in January we got in two loan players? It’s a lot easier to keep your job when you can point to one success, rather than risk spending and not having any.
Is that also why we’ve wasted 2/3rd’s of a season with a squad not fit for purpose (incl. an inexcusably thin back line) because we didn’t want to risk purchases in the summer that may have cost a little more.
Make no mistake about it, an 8m player signed in Aug is vastly more valuable than the same priced player at the end of Jan.
We’re so afraid of debt, so risk adverse, we’re making stupid blunders time and time again. IF we go do McNally has to go, because while he’s achieved short term financial success, he clearly doesn’t have the chops to guide us to long term success on the field. He’ll have had two shots at it.
Ben k, I would give Nigel Pearson the gig, providing he would accept the poisoned chalice that is
Keith Burt's Chin says
Just a thought. We could ask to be expelled from the league and join the conference. We’d win 8-0 every week. Life would be so great!
Stewart Lewis says
Dave B (14) – Your ignorance again. We made bids of around £10m for each of two players in the summer; for reasons beyond our control, they didn’t come off.
Let’s focus on helping our team stay up. OTBC
Dave B says
@17 Stewart Lewis
I don’t care if we offered 100m and were just shy of signing Suarez and Bale. We didn’t get the players we wanted. The players we disparately needed. Results matter.
I don’t know what you do for a living, but where I work I’m judged on what I achieve. Not on what I fail to do.
Stewart Lewis says
Dave B (18) – You’re a master at shifting your ground, I’ll give you that. You said “we wasted…because we didn’t want to risk purchases In the summer that may have cost a little more”. As soon as I point out you were wrong, you move the goalposts. I could rebut your latest way to attack the club too, but honestly, life’s too short. Cheers.