“The closer he looked, the less he could make out, the deeper everything sank into the twilight”
Kafka, The Castle
Two murky themes to address today, with some odd similarities: Norwich City’s squad and Brexit.
We continue to be bombarded with varying versions of the impact of Brexit, how we should manage it, and even – now somewhat academically – whether it should happen at all.
Similarly with City’s post-window squad: a continuing stream of views on the impact of our summer business, how should we deal with the players now at our disposal, and even whether we should ditch those in charge.
There’s another similarity. We speculate on the impact of these events for the future of our country/club (delete as appropriate) – but none of us actually has much idea.
In predicting football, at least, it doesn’t much matter that experts are out of vogue. There simply isn’t much expertise.
Some of us try to be a bit better armed – studying history, reading Accounts and talking to people who understand the business of running clubs. But in truth we’re no better equipped to make predictions than anyone else.
If I need a reminder, all it takes is a quick look at my predictions of a year ago (Leicester to go down) or just last month (Huddersfield to go down).
So, by any objective standard we’re not experts – but in our own minds, of course, most of us are. Modesty might be the appropriate tone for our pronouncements – on City matters, just as on Brexit – but instead they’re characterised by a level of conviction Margaret Thatcher would be proud of.
That’s perhaps not the best preface for my two-penneth on the City squad, but here goes.
With the one well-publicised exception, there’s good competition and options in most areas of our squad. We have a better back four than two years ago, and two genuine goalkeeping options. Perhaps most strikingly, we have outstanding midfield creativity.
Though he knows the value of options, judging by his previous approach in the Championship I’d expect Alex Neil to be looking for a pretty settled team. What will it be? When Martin Olsson is fit, does Robbie Brady have an automatic place further forward? Does Graham Dorrans’ passing keep him in the side? Where does Jonny Howson play?
Wes or Pritchard? Or both? There’s certainly a case for trying to integrate both – if players are good enough they’ll generally find a way to play together – plus at least one Murphy, while Howson is most effective with a licence to attack and Sergi Canos is an exciting talent. But five into three won’t go.
And that’s not mentioning Steven Naismith, who showed his ability at Blackburn and could be a big help to the young players if his head’s right.
I just hope the person leaving in front of me on Saturday and muttering about Jacob Murphy is in a small minority. We’ll need different ways to break down opponents this season, and the Murphys have a special ability to take on defenders which Alex has told them to express.
It won’t work every time. I know it’s repeating Gary (Gowers) here, but if I have one plea to City fans, it’s to encourage the twins. They’re confidence players: their success rate will increase if they’re encouraged, it’ll go down if we get on their backs.
It’s a bonus that they’re home-grown; the main thing is they’re shining young players clearly committed to City. Perhaps we can switch some of the love that seems to be reserved for Kyle Lafferty to the deserving Jacob and Josh.
There’s one more Norwich-Brexit similarity, I think: we can be misled by social media. Reading Twitter, one could conclude that Leave voters are angry, insular and narrow-minded, while Remainers are arrogant, haughty and bad losers.
Similarly, one could decide that City fans divide into two camps, shouting at each other across the divide “Miserable Moaners!”, “Happy Clappers!”
I hope and believe it’s not quite like that. However they voted, I reckon the majority of the public want to get on with – or allow Theresa May to get on with – leaving the EU on the best terms for us.
And the vast majority of City will get on with supporting the team. They won’t pretend to be thrilled by the transfer window, but they have far too much sense to join protests and the like.
That’s why I remain optimistic. Yes, it’s down to the team – inspired by the manager – to lift our spirits. But a slogan from another referendum can come into play here. Almost everyone recognises that, in the Norwich City community, we’re Better Together.
el dingo says
“And the vast majority of City will get on with supporting the team. They won’t pretend to be thrilled by the transfer window, but they have far too much sense to join protests and the like.”
Sums it up perfectly.
I also agree that the Murphys’ need every bit of encouragement they can get. Maybe it’s because I’m in the Barclay but I’ve never heard anyone yell anything negative. A few rumblings sotto voce maybe – but I don’t think any one of my little lot would have Nathan Redmond back in place of them – the fact they’re twins and so similar in ability is awesome – it really is “two for the price of one”.
Anyway with Martin Olsson back I’m feeling really confident and looking forward to tonight. I hope Ryan B keeps his place. I wonder if Wigan will bring enough to sing the Will Grigg song:-)
H. Clapper says
That Kafka quote sums up Roy Hodgson’s time with England to perfection (or Glenn Roeder’s at NCFC).
The breakthrough of the Murphys into the first team is something to really be applauded and proud of as a club. Ironically, that’s one positive aspect of undergoing re-adjustment (relegation is an ugly word) as they would never have had the same chance in the PL. Almost certainly, they would have been sent out on loan again.
The pace, energy and goal threat they bring is so refreshing – of course their form will dip in and out on any given day, but given backing from the fans they may play a huge role in our fortunes over the coming season and beyond.
Pritchard and Wes in the same team seems a stretch – with the ravages of 46 games, AP is a natural intermittent replacement for Wes’s lovely but ageing legs.
I was a remainer and suppose I am a happy clapper but with reasonable expectations/reservations about the club’s present & future. Let’s get on with activating article 50 and roar on the yellow & greens (whoever owns the club or is on the board).
Tony Brown says
Brexit forced the death of TTIP, so if for no other reason, it was the right decision.
Dave B says
Brexit and NCFC – One similarity is that in both cases those with the money tell those without it what’s good for them. Ignore symbiotic relationship.
Stewart Lewis says
Dave B (4) – Re Brexit, I trust you’re referring to both sides of the argument.
Economic institutions certainly advocated Remaining. But the Brexiters were hardly ‘have-nots’: extremely rich (and in many cases tax-avoiding) newspaper proprietors; Boris Johnson & Michael Gove; Aaron Banks and his sidekick, the millionaire commodity broker Nigel Farage.
Not sure where you see the Norwich analogy there. Personally I’ve never been, or felt, told by the Norwich hierarchy what’s good for me. They’ve sometimes spelled out the financial reality of being a club in our position, but that’s not quite the same.
Dave B says
FWIW I am an immigrant in the US, didn’t vote in the Brexit, and would have been incredibly torn had I.
Still, you’re wrong about Brexiters being extremely rich. Demographics clearly show the millions voting to leave (not just the your selected few) were on the lower end of the social scale.
The ‘listen to the experts’ argument is also among the most spurious I’ve heard. Across the country people ignore experts in most aspects of their lives every single day:
Global warming – Know anyone who ditched their car to help fight it?
Driving safety – No one speeds, right?
Lung cancer – Smoking was eradicated. Wasn’t it?
Obesity and food hygiene – We’re all asking for kebab vans to be shut, no?
The idea that all of a sudden everyone should stop and ‘listen to the experts’, those experts who have failed to create a fair society (Oxfam consider the UK one of the most unequal countries on the planet), failed to identify or stop the recent recession, and failed to control bankers, is, well, absurd. Largely those voting for Brexit voted against a system that has consistently worked against them for decades.
52% of the voting community felt they weren’t getting a fair deal. The 48% have two options:
1) Listen and be empathetic.
2) Call them stupid, racist, chavs and ignore them.
Sadly, I don’t see much of (1).
How is this related to NCFC? I don’t know, ask the author.
Stewart Lewis says
Dave B (6) – Thanks.
This isn’t a forum for politics, so I won’t pursue the arguments. Just to say:
. on wealth, I was responding to your assertion about “those with the money telling those without it what’s good for them”. I assumed you were talking about campaigners rather than voters; forgive me if I misunderstood
. if you lived here (or for instance followed me on Twitter) you’d see plenty of Remainers accepting the result and trying to facilitate its implementation. The dirtiness of the Leave campaign still sticks in the craw, but that’s not sufficient reason to reject the result.
How is this related to NCFC? Well, you prefaced your post with “One similarity….”