Have football fans always been so impatient?
Everything is about the here and now. It’s a good job we don’t conduct our day to day lives in the same way that we live and breathe them as football fans.
You’re headed off for a meal with your other half. The waiter brings over the menu. But that’s not good enough.
Menu? MENU? Where’s the meal? I expected it to be on the table as soon as I got here. Look at all the other diners; they’re quite clearly already eating their meals, why must I wait for mine?
A trip to the cinema. Small seats, sticky floor, Pearl and Dean. “Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-PA, pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-paaaaaaa -PA!”
Well I’m sorry but now I’m here I want the film on NOW. Right now. Sack the manager.
Ordering something? It’ll be with you in three to five days.
Not good enough. I’ve ordered it, where is it? You can’t expect me to wait. I want it now. Immediately. You clearly have no idea how to run a business.
You hint got no ambishun.
Those new potatoes you set at the end of last month. They haven’t cropped yet. How long do they need? I expect to be pulling nice new spuds out of the ground the day after I’ve set them. Everyone else is.
And as for that expensive cruise? So what if it’s £4k for a ticket. You earn £24k a year for goodness sake, that’s £24k sat in the bank, £4k is nothing. Spend it. Spend it now. And to hell with everything else that might just happen to need servicing financially over that twelve month period.
Same old same old. You still hint got no holiday ambishun.
Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Not how we live our lives or the pace we are used to.
Except, that is, if you support Norwich City.
Where are all the new signings?
Why hasn’t a new chief executive been appointed yet?
We hint got… you know how it goes.
I read a post on a messageboard thread earlier today that – in as many words – that the current board has no idea how to run a football club for exactly those two reasons.
No new players. And no replacement for David McNally at the top of the Canary tree.
The club, it was claimed, said that they would look to appoint a replacement for McNally “as soon as possible”.
Thus, a little over four weeks after his sudden and unexpected departure from the club, the fact that he has not been replaced is apparently a sign that the current board are sat at the canapés and wine and looking forward to Wimbledon rather than worrying themselves about the running of a football club.
People do realise, I assume, that looking for and recruiting someone as important, responsible and highly qualified as a the chief executive of a business that turns over tens of millions of pounds annually, employs several hundred people and is one of THE flagship operations of the whole of East Anglia isn’t quite the same as getting a temp in to do a spot of filing?
You can ring around on a Friday afternoon and have someone in and ready to do just that the following Monday morning. Not quite so easy to do when you’re looking for a new CEO though, especially if there are contracts involved and notice periods – usually rather longer than the standard four weeks – to serve.
Nevertheless, the fact that someone isn’t in place, raising hell and signing cheques is seen as yet another stick to beat the club about the head with.
By the end of the summer they’ll probably have enough of those sticks to build a Yurt. But how many of them will have been beatings of a justifiable nature?
The same applies to signing players.
And woe, woe and thrice woe. Because we haven’t signed anyone yet.
We hint got no ambishun (sorry).
But Man Utd, folk argue, have just spent £30 million on Eric Bailly.
They’ve signed someone.
Well no, they haven’t. Not yet anyway.
No club can sign a player in exchange for a transfer fee until July 1.
So yes, Man Utd have announced they have signed Bailly but in actual fact all they have done is announce their intention to sign him on, or immediately after July 1. Bailly is, and will remain until at least midnight on June 30, a Villarreal player.
Same with Arsenal and Granit Xhaka (imagine that on Canary Call); he won’t officially sign for them until July 1.
The big clubs like to get the news of their deals in early. It’s sabre rattling; it’s finding your unwrapped Christmas presents on top of the wardrobe three weeks before the big day. You know you’ve got them. But you can’t have them yet.
These will almost certainly be deals that were first formulated and put into action back in the winter. Surely no-one thinks Jose Mourinho joined Man Utd, identified Bailly as a player he wanted and handed the job of getting the player over to the club to complete; all £30 million of it in under a fortnight.
Proof, if ever needed, that Mourinho was going to be their new manager as far back as late last year, for that is when he would have tipped the wink that Bailly was a player he wanted. Not the day he joined them.
Likewise Guardiola and Gundogen. He’d have marked his future employers’ card on him months ago.
We’re not in that position. And neither are most other clubs in the Championship or, for that matter, the Premier League.
It’s mostly free transfers, free agents, and Bosmans until the end of the month. And, since June 1, there have been nearly 40 of them.
Have we missed the boat? Good question. Should we have demonstrated that ambition we are all told we so sadly lack by snapping up Chris Arthur (Woking to Crawley) or Joss Labadie (Dagenham & Redbridge to Newport)?
We’d have made a statement at least. You bet. A statement that said Norwich are signing players who will be nowhere good enough for the first-team.
At least we’ve signed someone the naysayers would claim. Except they wouldn’t. Because they’d be too busy lambasting club and board for, well you know, that certain lack of something.
And, to be fair, I think most of us would be feeling the same way if Arthur and Labadie were pictured in the EDP holding up the obligatory scarf with, in both cases I have no doubt, a look that says “pinch me” on their faces.
Am I being too harsh on my fellow Norwich fans?
Perhaps I am. Because it won’t only be the likes of us demanding action and demanding it yesterday over the summer. Most fans of most clubs will be at it. You only have to take a cursory look around the various chat rooms and messageboards of all teams great and small to realise we’re all at it.
It’s football 2016 style, where instant gratification is king.
Has this sense of self entitlement amongst football supporters always been so self pervading?
Blaming many of the major ills on the game on the influx of big money and blanket TV coverage is an easy, even lazy, standby. But I do think, in this particular instance, the mass commercialisation of the game has a lot to answer for.
Football fans today have, in my opinion (and there’s the rub, it’s just an opinion, nothing more), higher expectations and demands of their club, players and management than at any other time in the game’s history.
With the added ingredient of celebrity status now being attached to many of the games administrators merely add to the feeding frenzy.
The financial rewards for being in the Premier League next season are enormous.
Yet, relatively speaking, things won’t have changed that much from a quarter of a century ago. In the summer of 1991, Norwich might have had a transfer budget of, say, around £2 to £2.5 million of which £1.5 million was spent on Rob Newman and Darren Beckford; the latter for a club record fee of £925,000 from Port Vale.
Beckford was a lower league striker who’d been Vale’s leading goalscorer for four consecutive seasons during which time they’d won promotion to the old Second Division (now the Championship) and, against all the odds, stayed there.
You could probably compare him to Benik Afobe. Beckford made just 11 appearances for Manchester City before, aged 20, signing for Port Vale for just £15,000 in 1987 where he rebuilt both his career and reputation in the Second Division before joining a side in the top division in a deal that constituted a club record fee for the buying club.
Afobe joined Arsenal at the age of 17 but in a five year spell at the club failed to make a first-team appearance for the Gunners. He eventually signed for Wolves for £2 million in 2015 where he went on to rebuild both his career and reputation in the Championship before joining a side in the top division in a deal that constituted a club record fee for the buying club – in this case, Bournemouth.
Using, admittedly, back of fag packet accounts here, Norwich’s signing of Beckford in 1991 for £925,000 might have accounted for around 40 per cent of the club’s transfer budget that summer.
Had we paid the asking price for Afobe last summer, might Wolves asking price of around £10-£12 million have constituted around 40 per cent of our overall transfer budget at the time?
Like I said, fag packet economics. But it might not have been far from that.
More money in the game, more to spend on transfer fees and player wages? Sure. But it’s all relative. And, as far as economics in football is concerned, a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Except, that is, for our own expectations and demands that our club delivers.
And delivers now.
Hmmm…this has been a long time coming, hardly a sudden expectation on our football and your maths are very, very questionable at best. Its not about spending money, you’ve missed the point. Its about making the right moves at the right time. Cutting off the deadwood and signing ambitious players, not retaining has beens like Whittaker, martin, bassong and ruddy. This summer is not about spending millions and and going straight back up, its about getting fans back on side with players who actually look like they care. Retaining the aforementioned players simply switches more and more fans off. It’s not complex, it’s football after all and to point the finger at ‘impatient’ fans who show incredible loyalty watching largely turgid performances only serves to exacerbate the problem. We’re a stubborn bunch as you know!
Ha, morning Jeff. It is fag packet economics, remember! Good points-mine was that we’re all impatient, its a footballing trait & I include myself in that bracket. Yet, despite all the money floating about now, nothing has really changed, its all fairly relative in that sense, the only thing that has changed is the expectation that goes with it. Interesting times and more gossip and spectulation this morning (will leave that for others to write/comment about) means we’re all on high alert and now likely to stay there until the end of August. And stubborn? Damned right!
We’re definitely all impatient, but it’s quite understandable that fans might especially be this particular transfer window: (1) how important it is to bounce back at first time of asking and right what went wrong last season; (2) how by our own self-admission our previous summer transfer window was less than successful, partly due to getting started late; (3) that Alex Neil needs a good transfer window if he’s going to have a chance to prove himself, which we’d all love him to do. Without the right players, he may not have long especially as his results on the pitch that will make the case for remaining in his position to a new chief exec.
I’m not panicking yet or lambasting the board, but until things happen I’m nervous… we’ve just got to get it right this time. I just hope that AN isn’t hampered in any way in terms of building the squad he wants.
I completely take your point about taking time to make the right appointment of chief exec. The stakes are very high in this decision, they have to get it right. But I would very much hope it will be addressed before too long as there will inevitable be some instability when the new person comes in.
John Page says
You are well aware that our suggestion that in general our individual Board members are not well equipped to run a football Club is based on far more than the protracted appointment of a new CE. The strange departures of both Alan Bowkett and David McNally only adds weight to the argument.
If you have anecdotal evidence to the contrary lets be having it and in the interim please refrain from condescending comments regarding the Norfolk accent suggesting a certain lack of understanding/intelligence…..it does you no credit!
(4) Point taken John, but mine is as broad as they come so it would include me!
Agree that the sudden departures of AB and DMN suggest somewhere along the line there has been, politely, a difference of opinion at board level. Whether or not we find out what it was about remains to be seen…
Bob in Diss says
Jeff(1) – one moment you say “switches more fans off” and then “show incredible loyalty”?! Supporting a club is all about loyalty through thick and thin, whether you think the right decisions are being made or not.
Whatever the line up which kicks things off in August, it is the duty of the fan to get behind them positively and not pick on and barrack individuals which has been a curse for the last couple of seasons.
We have a core of players who clearly weren’t quite good enough for the PL but have proved more than good enough in the division we find ourselves – be madness to ship out wholesale that experience just to pacify a few angry and vociferous supporters.
John Page (4) – the situation at the top is far from ideal but Ed Balls’ comments in the EDP today on the approach to CEO appt. and contracts seem very sensible. The last thing we need is for a panic decision to get someone in who turns out to be a bad fit (pitch and board level).
I didn’t feel condescended by the accent thing – meant as a light hearted joke. If a Norfolk man (such as Ed) does it, it’s fine – it’s when an ‘outsider’ takes the piss that there’s a problem surely?
Andrew Brewer says
A great piece Ed. You’ve really nailed it. I get so bored and frustrated by the constant whining especially in comments in Facebook with demands and complaints that the club is not showing ambition.
These comments usually come from people who’ve never run a paper round much less a multi million pound company. Replacing a CEO is a major operation and as you rightly say, any appointee will have to serve a lengthy notice period because his or her employer will need to secure a replacement. I doubt we will have someone in post much before the end of the year.
I don’t object to critics if the club or the board but I do object to the sneering, jeering comments of many alleged fans who seem to delight at having a go.
On transfers, again some fans seem to confuse it with shopping at Aldi. Choose your goods and just pay at the checkout. It is much more complex than of course and we have to persuade players to join us. But, there are still complaints about the signing of Brady, still fans who are embarrassed by our negotiating and who presumably would rather we paid the £12m straight away rather than the £6m because the club shouldn’t always “go for the cheap option”.
It is a ridiculous lack of perspective and realism plus as you rightly say, excessive self entitlement.
Keith Burt's Chin says
With five metaphors to begin your piece it sounds as if you have as much faith in the readers ability to understand a point as city fans do in the club getting it right this summer!
After the playoff final, if you had told fans what the totality of our summer business would be just a year after lessons were supposed to be learned, there may have been a march on Carrow Road. For a club supposedly serious about staying up the word pathetic doesn’t really do it justice.
Early signs don’t look good. O’neal turned out to be a very important player, gone! Now the talk is of extensions for Jerome, Whittaker & Turner, only one of which featured since autumn and couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo. And you’re seriously wondering why people don’t trust!
Keith burts chin. Nail on head. The issue is trust. The Smith family’s history of ownership is littered with decisions ranging from crass to the downright bizarre. Messrs Bowkett and McNally were the last vestiges of common sense in the corridors of power at the club. I’m frustrated, angry and concerned.
Dave B says
I don’t think your analogies are correct. We don’t want our dinner at the same time as the menu, we just want it at a reasonable time and to have some indication it’s being prepared. Oh, and this is the fourth year in a row I’ve come to this restaurant and the food has been late and hard to swallow. The ingredients poor, the service rude, and despite ongoing promises by management that they’re committed to change, we’d just like to see a signs of it. That’s all.
Cosmo P. says
Dave B. – anyone that unhappy would chose another restaurant surely? Presumably, the last 4 years of misery include promotion via a playoff win at Wembley? Did you get no measure of pleasure from that experience?
In the summer of 2013, we had a stable board and CEO, were looking forward to a 3rd PL season on the trot and were splashing big cash on ‘exotic’ foreign players – didn’t hear too many complaints back then, and yet we got relegated. The moral is..
Same restaurant. Just a different cook.
I should have stayed off the metaphors!
Dave B says
@11 I’m not saying there haven’t been an odd course here and there. But are you telling me there’s any aspect of this club, apart from the bank balance, that’s in better shape than when Chef Lambert walked out the door 4 years ago.
John Page says
Our selections to replace Board members has been a little like Labour’s selection for a new leader of their party, and we all know where that is going to end up!
Dave (14) That’s a very fair and valid point-have we progressed in that time, certainly as a football club? Or did Lambert reach a glass ceiling and we could go no further-hence his eagerness to move on and not that long after his “I’m happy here and will stay for as long as Delia wants me” quote.
Worth a closer look I think.
Sid in Holt says
(14) ‘Chef Lambert’ – currently emptying the bins of a fast food joint somewhere. He realised his limits and may well have taken us the way he took Villa.
They were great years under PL, but why constantly flagellate us and yourself with the past and the mistakes made. Embrace the now and show some support to the club.
Dave B says
@17 “Embrace the now and show some support to the club.”
People have been saying that for years. Sometimes supporting the club isn’t supporting the owners or board. Should we have continued to embrace the now and shown support for Neil Doncaster? Or did wholesale change back then help?