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.
All’s lost, we’re doomed…
Sadly i have to say I think we are done for this year, our goose is cooked. I’m so frustrated by it, I really think this Norwich team isn’t that far from being a decent side, I genuinely like Alex Neil and I reckon we would be mad not to give him every backing we can. I know (because we’ve seen it) that so many of our players who struggle to step up to the premiere league are really excellent championship performers. In the short term we’re stuffed, but hopefully it will not be a long departure from the premiere league this time.
I don´t think you´ve got anything to apologise for, as regards the doom and gloom merchants. Those fans who´ve already thrown in the towel ought to be ashamed of themselves, who needs ´em, the team certainly don´t. I can imagine the uproar there´d be, from those selfsame fans, if Alex Neil or any of the players showed signs of throwing in the towel. We all have to believe and we all have to get behind the team, especially now, and any who can´t, may just as well stay away, for all the good they´ll do.
Don Harold says
This is all much ado about nothing. I really feel it is now a straight fight between us and Sunderland and we stand an ok chance of coming out on top; I don’t like the way that the mood swings with a couple of wrong or right result. If you had asked me in August how I thought we’d be doing with 4 games left I’d have said that we would be battling relegation. We came up as the third best team in the Championship and have probably the lowest wage bill; the best players don’t go to the worst teams. We’ve signed a couple of nuggets in Klose and Brady but mustn’t get dragged into paying loads for what may turn out to be disappointments. RVW and others have shown that all that glisters is not gold. 4 games and we’re still in it; let’s just get behind the team whatever happens-the appraisal of the season should be made after the last game.
Can we stay up? Yes, until it is mathematically impossible to do so there is always a chance, a glimmer of hope. Do I think we will? Not on your nelly! We may still be fighting and the players still look like they are playing for the manager, but without klose, we are dreadful at the back, we’re fairly awful going forward and the guys in the middle are working so hard to help out with the deficiencies of the rest that they have a thankless task. I will always cheer the lads on and hope for the best, I am not inherently a negative person (Just to turn up to watch football I think you should be relatively optomistic or it must be a bit to masochistic in the first place), I’m more a realist. Unfortunately my brain looks at; the fixtures, our form, team options and tries to shut out what has gone before, FULHAM! And I can only come to 1 conclusion, we’re likely going down. Please let it be a funny old game, with us beating the gooners and Stoke doing us a favour. But I won’t be rushing to the bookies to place that bet. Sunderland look the likely survivors with 4 games against teams with little to play for and being in the box seat, Newcs and their 3 oponents are also likely to be on the beach but I think they are too flakey to get out of trouble. Unfortunately for us both Arsenal and United will still be fighting for the top 4 before we meet Watford and Everton. Will it be too late by then? Maybe not, but with our form across the whole season, It’s difficult to see us win 1 leave alone 2, 3 or 4. The fat lady didn’t start singing as Sunderlands 3rd went in but she’s assembled the band and tuning up. That be said, I’d echo everyone in saying lets get behind the lads it ain’t over til it’s over.
Dave B says
I’m with 4). I’d consider myself a realist. Standing back and taking a broad picture look at the club, the current trends, and historical patterns, gives the best indicator of what’s likely to happen. Of course, what’s likely to happen and what does isn’t always the same. But…
Looking at our current squad, we can’t score and we can’t defend (the latter we’ve done poorly for 3-4 seasons now). We’ve also lost our best defender for the remainder of the season and our existing ones haven’t been up to PL standards. That’s not pessimism. That’s reality.
Going on this whole season’s performances, well, we’re in the relegation zone. Not only that but Sunderland and Newcastle are picking up some points and only one of them needs to beat us. It’s not pessimism to suggest we’re in trouble. The reality is we’re in trouble.
The longer view picture is we’ve never been in a position going into the last few games of a PL season in the relegation zone and escaped. That’s the reality of the situation.
Of course we can escape it, of course we can. But it’s not pessimism to suggest the odds are against us (as are currently being offered by the bookies). It’s reality.
Stewart Lewis says
Thanks for the comments, everyone – not to mention the Shakespeare references.
Plenty of valid points, and I’m delighted to see everyone (except of course Dave B) keen to get behind the team, whatever our fears.
Dave B (5). You’re one of those ‘realists’ whose glass is always half full. When you’re wrong – as you’ve been a number of times here – it’s always on the same side. You call it ‘realism’; in my business we called it ‘systematic bias’.
Those lambasting the ‘doom and gloom’ merchants should be ashamed. Its a classic regressive left pathetic tactic. “I don’t like what they have to say, so I will give it a name and shut them down”. I personally think its 50/50 whether we will stay up, but can see why people think we’re down and out. Its not like we have excellent form when we get the stench of relegation in our nostrils. To separate them from true fans is actually disgusting. We all have our entitlement to be deluded or miserly over our chances. The happy clappers who say “don’t boo” are the ones who don’t allow for progression. We need the doom and gloom merchants more than anyone for that very reason. At least they don’t stand and accept mediocrity like most of you.
Dave B says
Stuart, please don’t confuse optimism with support and realism with a lack of it. Optimism didn’t keep Lambert from leaving. Optimism didn’t improve Hughton’s results. Optimism didn’t make Adams the best candidate in all of Europe. Being optimistic that Martin could play CB didn’t make him one.
I was optimistic we’d beat Palace and Sunderland. But we didn’t.
Sometimes facing reality is far more important than optimism.
Being realistic isn’t showing a lack of support. I support my wife’s desire to become a better baker. I support her verbally, financially, and operationally (I wash up). But we’re both realistic enough to know that he’s not going to be standing in a tent hearing the words “Ready, Set, Bake” any time soon. She’s realistic enough to know that, but continues to strive for better.
As Gary wrote, something needs to be done differently for us to avoid this situation in the future. Be it money, tactics, training, scouting etc… That appeared to be a very valid and realistic view of the situation. I didn’t see you suggesting he didn’t support the team.
#7 Jeff –
When you say you don´t like being given a name, I presume that also goes for calling others ´happy clappers´, which actually is fairly derogatory. Just because we don´t call for heads to roll after every defeat, doesn´t mean that we´re necessarily happy with what we´re watching. And as for defining one group as true supporters, and one group as not, that came from your corner, not mine. The point I made was, that if the doubters can´t get behind the team, and believe, and support them, then they´d be better off doing something else on a Saturday afternoon, because the team need every bit of help they can get right now.
Stewart Lewis says
Dave (8) – I certainly don’t confuse those things. But if you look back over your posts and comments, I think even you will concede that they take a predominantly (if not entirely) negative slant.
Fans I know of other clubs have huge admiration for Norwich City. They point out that our resources are far below those of other clubs (including Fulham & Cardiff who came down with us and haven’t even challenged the play-off places since).
They believe that, even if we go down as everyone predicted, the excellence of our management will make us one of the strongest candidates to bounce back.
I take pride in these things; you dismiss them.
We reveal ourselves in the detail too. A classic Dave B line is in your first comment today: “Sunderland and Newcastle are picking up points”. The fact is true, but your insinuation isn’t. Yes – in the last five games Sunderland have picked up 6 points, Newcastle 5. But Norwich have picked up 7.
Speaking of detail, my name is Stewart. But it’s only a detail. Cheers.
It’s important to draw a distinction between being negative and being down about our situation. No one can deny the situation is pretty uninspiring after losing a game we so badly needed to win – and lost badly. Who wasn’t depressed after that?! And that’s only fair. Also the reality after that was that both rivals picked up more points. We can absolutely do it and we must believe, but the realism of the situation right now is much more negative than it was three weeks ago. Accepting that doesn’t mean you’re a negative fan.
Always a click-bait subject this, by the way, and kudos to Stewart for writing it in a manner befitting of MFW. I once wrote very similar stuff back in the Worthy days for a now defunct site called The Nest. Would you believe I once got death threats for suggesting fans should be more positive?!
Stewart Lewis says
Cityfan (11) – Thanks. I’m not trying to sugar-coat things, as I think you realise.
In comparison to death threats, I guess I should be grateful just to have Dave B’s cynicism to deal with…
Gary Field says
I guess it’s only natural that a disappointed mindset should engulf many City fans after the Sunderland result, made to feel so much worse because both they and Newcastle were due to play twice before we next kicked a ball in anger.
Interesting views on the concept of realism too. That’s opinions for you and what helps make football the great game it is, even in moments like these.
Stewart Lewis says
Spot on, Gary.