In Michael Crichton’s novel Sphere, scientists discover a spacecraft on the seabed. It’s made of unknown materials and clearly has technology well beyond our capabilities.
As they open it, will they find any kind of language inside that might help us understand its origin? Yes, predicts one of the scientists: they’ll find a lot of English.
And he’s right. The craft isn’t from an alien present, but from our own future.
Which brings me straight to conspiracy theories, and eventually to Norwich City.
A word of preface, probably unnecessary to regular readers: for the most part I’m a paid-up, infuriating, rationalist. Rationalism is defined as “the practice of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than religious belief or emotional response”.
As such, maybe I‘ve no place on a football forum at all. One of the commenters on a recent article here suggested that my “optimism and blind faith” had become a medical condition.
To be fair, he was arguing that my hold-off-for-a-few-games view of the Norwich manager situation was irrational. He may be right – as I’ll return to – though I’m not sure I need to bother our hard-pressed doctor.
If you anticipate me being sceptical about conspiracy theories, you’re right. Most of them fall apart at the least application of science or logic. The moon landings weren’t faked, and (sadly) Elvis really died.
On the other hand, a proper rationalist should keep an open mind in some cases. I don’t know who or what was behind the assassination of JFK; all we can say is that most of the theories have gaping holes.
Whatever crashed at Roswell, it seems highly unlikely to have been a weather balloon, but just as unlikely to be an alien spacecraft. My money would be on advanced technology – not in this case arriving from the future, but from a contemporary experiment.
Don’t get me started on alien abduction (though some of our political leaders do give me pause for thought…)
So we come back to Norwich. Frustrating times give rise to wild thinking – perhaps illustrated in some of this year’s electoral behaviour, and surely by some of the things fans are asserting about our club, even on this usually relatively considered site.
We’ve heard, for instance, that:
– Delia & Michael have syphoned money from the club and don’t want it promoted back to the Premier League
– The Board “takes delight” in going against supporters’ wishes
– Alex Neil “got lucky” with our promotion in 2014-15
– Louis Thompson was dropped for Saturday, with the account of his injury being faked
– Martin Olsson deliberately got sent off on Saturday to boost his chances of leaving in January
And many more.
Some of these have been rebutted with fact; all of them are piffle. They may get called “great points” on Canarycall, but they shouldn’t get the same indulgence here.
If I left it there, though, the accusation of being a blind optimist would be a fair cop.
There is a genuine case for the Board now letting go of Alex Neil. It’s just been made by Gary Gowers, a true fan who thinks things through with as little prejudice as anyone I’ve seen.
Since I’ve criticized one or two commenters to the site, let me redress the balance. Among the mixed bag of responses to Gary’s piece, the case against Alex Neil is made clearly and powerfully by Cyprus Canary (comment number 35!).
Like Craig Revel Horwood vis-à-vis the possibility of Ed Balls winning Strictly, it wouldn’t be my choice quite yet to part ways with AN, but I’d have no complaints if it happened. For whatever reason, the manager isn’t able to inspire belief and cohesion in the players as he once did.
For most of the last eight years, we’ve seen City teams achieve more than could reasonably be expected of them. It’s a nasty shock to see a Norwich team out there under-delivering its potential.
Personally I’d still wait through at least the Derby game, to see if the spirited last 20 minutes at QPR can be carried into a full match. Another insipid performance, though, and it would be tough to argue against change.
Change may, of course, happen before then. I believe those who think the Board doesn’t care as we do, and is mainly concerned with fobbing off supporters at the AGM, are wrong. For better or worse they’re under pressure – some of it from their own passion about Norwich City.
One regret I’d have about Alex Neil being replaced is that the problems don’t start and finish with him. It’s clear that January needs to see a significant turnover of players, whoever’s in the manager’s seat.
We’ve been a little spoilt recently with two Championship seasons leading straight to promotion, and the instant impact that Alex Neil had when he joined us. I hope we haven’t forgotten that it’s not guaranteed.
Just to complicate things further, I’m only ‘for the most part’ a rationalist. The biggest and best decisions in my life were made from the heart rather than the brain.
Make of that what you will.