I had three ideas for this week’s piece.
Dave Stringer, Martin O’Neill or tenuous Canary links with Euro Championships and World Cups. And believe me, some of them are so beyond tenuous, you’d need to stick them into CERN for evidence that they ever occurred at all.
But all of those can wait. For now.
Because I am drawn to my piece last week and the response it has drawn from the great and good of MyFootballWriter.
So I’m going to pick up on that, toss it around a bit with a little vinaigrette and send it right back out there for further comment from you all.
The gist of the piece was that we are all, rightly or wrongly, conditioned to demand and expect what we want for ourselves, and in all forms of life, almost as soon as we’ve decided we want it. In other words, we are living in a ‘right here, right now’ society.
In terms of material goods of course, the availability of easy credit has made that easy for everyone. I’d been in paid employment for precisely one week when I decided I wanted a decent hi-fi system. The one I wanted cost a fortune. The one the salesman decided I should have cost even more.
Sign here, here and here, Sir.
And there it was – mine to take home.
Whereas my dad would lament about how if he or Mum had wanted anything ‘nice’ at my age they’d have to save up, week after week, month after month, year after year even until, finally, they had enough money to pay for whatever it was. In cash.
And, with apologies for yet more metaphors to try to illustrate a point, that is where I felt the game was going.
Immediate demand, quick delivery and instant satisfaction.
But, despite how much we want it and expect it, we can’t expect it to go on like that indefinitely.
In many ways and with that in mind, Paul Lambert was exceptionally lucky when he was appointed as the manager of our club. Lucky that is, in the time when he was appointed.
Because our expectations were fairly low at that time.
We’d just been relegated to League One and, in our first game back in that division for 50 years had been turned over 7-1. At home.
Everyone had a good chuckle about it, even Mark Lawrenson.
It was all a bit bleak.
Gunny had spent the previous summer trying to recruit players. Amongst those who he managed to sign were Michael Theoklitos, Matt Gill, Owain Tudur-Jones and Goran Maric.
Amongst those who he almost signed were Michael Bridges and Steve Guppy.
We weren’t fussy. No-one was particularly complaining about the quality of these players. Far from it. We looked for the positives in each one. Gill came on a free from Exeter City.
He’d played in a play-off final. OK, it was the play-off final for the Blue Square Premier play-off. But it was at Wembley.
And, without wishing to disrespect either the player or the club he had joined us from, that was asnlow as we had sunk.
Getting players in on a free from Exeter City.
Put all of that together with a team that loses its first game of the season 7-1 and expectation is going to be at a very low level indeed.
Who looked back at the carnage of the Colchester game and thought he or she would be happy just to see us survive that season and not go down again?
Knee-jerk maybe, but I know I did. Just get a team of fighters and battle for every ball, every point. Top ten finish? I’ll take that right now.
Lambert didn’t, in terms of the club’s infrastructure and finances, have very much to work with when he joined. Indeed, we all travelled down to witness the FA Cup tie at Paulton Rovers blissfully unaware that, even as that day dawned, the club was as close to going out of existence as it has been at any time in its history.
Thank you Alan Bowkett.
No-one was expecting very much at all really. Not even then when, through Lambert’s sheer force of will and personality, we’d dragged ourselves up to 5th place in the league by the time of that game.
Promotion was a hope right up to the last day of the season. No-one demanded anything, no-one threw their toys out of the pram and everyone was happy that we had a team and club that seemed to be going forward again.
The pressure and expectation was minimal and in direct contrast to the enjoyment we all felt at that time with our football. Time and time again fellow Norwich supporters have told me that the 2009/10 season was one of the most enjoyable they’d ever gone through as a Canary fan.
Despite the fact we were skint, despite the fact we were in League One, despite the fact that amongst our trips on the road we had visits to Stockport, Yeovil and Tranmere to look forward to and despite the fact that our roll call for the season included such names as Jens Berthel Askou, Oli Johnson, Anthony McNamee and Simon Whaley.
Because no-one was really expecting anything at all.
Less expectation = more enjoyment?
Now compare that season to last time out. Premier League.
Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United. Stephen Naismith, Robbie Brady and Timm Klose.
Nail biting, bitching, sweating and swearing from the off. 40 points, the magical 40 points.
The manager being questioned. Likewise the board and owners. Questions asked, complaints raised. The sudden resignation of a popular chairman and the even more sudden and bizarre resignation of David McNally. Somewhere, in amongst all of the politics and boardroom chicanery, games of football were breaking out.
More expectation = less enjoyment?
I’ll leave the final word to you. Did you enjoy that season in League One more than any other recent season played at a higher level?
And if so, why was that? Was it because we weren’t expecting too much?
Does expecting too much, demanding it even, take the fun out of football?
Would you have enjoyed our recent day out at Wembley even if we had lost to Middlesbrough?
And, finally, is there any way you can see yourself enjoying next season if it doesn’t end with us being promoted? Is that the be all and end all for Norwich City for the 2016/17 campaign?
Over to you…