I shouldn’t, I know.
That statement could apply to many episodes of my life, past and present. Today, though, I’m talking about my feelings towards fellow Norwich fans. Specifically the doom-and-gloom merchants.
With four games to go and nothing between the three teams fighting to stay up, my reaction to those on social media declaring that all’s lost and we’re doomed is…well, irritation. I hate it and want to lash out at them.
I’d say there’s some justification for my feelings – but not as much as at first glance. I want to claim they’re not true fans but on reflection I know that’s wrong. They do care, and many of them have travelled further and more faithfully than I have to support the Canaries.
One or two of them may be boo-boys – which also gets my goat – but I suspect most of them aren’t.
And I also recognise this: pessimistic statements can be a defence mechanism to protect us against disappointment, of which we’ve had our share. The 6-0 final-day defeat at Fulham may be more than ten years ago, but no City fan who witnessed it could fail to be scarred for life.
So I’m sorry for my outbursts towards the pessimists – sort of.
A final word on this one. The coming weekend may be difficult for us. The season climax always brings unexpected results, but in theory our rivals’ games are easier than ours this time, and we may find ourselves deep in the bottom three by Saturday night.
The prospects then change. We’ll have three games left: two at home, two against clubs who just want the season to end, plus Man U whose big chance of success – salvation in the case of Van Gaal – lies in the Cup Final.
We’ll need points, but there’s every chance of getting them.
We just need to keep our nerve if things don’t go well this weekend. Easier said than done – and in the light of this week’s reaction, perhaps a vain hope.
Unlike some City sides of the past, though, I’m convinced Alex Neil and the players will carry on fighting. Our backing – during the week as well as on matchday – can help them, if we’re prepared to give it.
Our editor Gary Gowers wrote an exceptionally good piece here on Sunday, exploring the limitations, options and possibilities for our club. It touched on a live current issue of debate, our transfer spending. I won’t add to that discussion now, except to highlight something I think often gets lost in the heat of debate.
The headline price of a player is important, but it’s only part of the cost of a transfer. Any transfer involves a variety of extra costs, but the massive factor is wages. With the kind of players we’ve been targeting this year, we’re looking at commitment to an eye-watering pay packet now and for years to come.
I was reminded of that when reading that Nicklas Bendtner is now a ‘free agent’. One of the world’s top strikers according to one expert (N. Bendtner), he’s been released from his contract at Wolfsburg. So we could have him for nothing. Well, just a hefty signing-on fee and £90,000 a week.
That’s a slight difference.
Returning to our immediate challenge, the final home game with Watford could be the be-all and end-all for us. It won’t be for the faint hearted, and it won’t be a foregone conclusion. Win, and with one fell swoop it could wipe out all our yesterdays. Lose, and it’ll be a sorry sight.
Unexpected players often become central to such battles. Gary O’Neil, not so long ago a laughing-stock, has become a tower of strength. Things come full circle; even when we lambasted him after Stoke, and many wished him good riddance, I felt he was more sinned against than sinning.
Notice anything about those last two paragraphs? Perhaps not the most elegant, but they contain a dozen nice turns of phrase (“not for the faint hearted”, “tower of strength” etc). Not mine, sadly – they’re all Shakespeare’s. The bloke died 400 years ago and we still use many of his expressions today.
Football people, including fans, sometimes have the reputation of being somewhat – how should we put this? – thick. So I was delighted this week when we rose to the challenge, issued by a couple of websites, of linking the Shakespeare anniversary with the sport we love.
There were many fine offerings, but perhaps nothing better caught the spirit of the challenge than “Shall I compare thee to Stoke City away?”
Well, enough for now. While this relegation battle continues, not sure I’ll sleep a wink; I can’t help watching every relevant game with bated breath. But any criticism I have of my fellow fans is voiced more in sorrow than in anger; please don’t kill the messenger.
Four more Shakespeare phrases in that paragraph. I guess you can’t have too much of a good thing (there’s another one).
Meanwhile, the game’s afoot. OTBC.