For the 12,479 who were at Carrow Road it sounded like an enjoyable afternoon. And good for them.
That I wasn’t one of them was a personal choice based on matters financial and of the conscience but for those who didn’t regard those same matters as pertinent, or chose to see past them, then fair enough.
There is enough discontent and discord around the place without City fans taking chunks out of one another for either opting to attend or not attend a game of football. But for me it was a no.
My view was formed around the pricing and how it belied the words of Delia and Michael in what has become known as ‘that’ interview.
£25 is a lot of money for everyone – including struggling writers – and post-Christmas it was simply too much, but the way it flew in the face of Delia’s “I really do feel for supporters. They’re treated so badly“, was what really stuck in the craw. (And before I’m reminded, I appreciate the board don’t specifically set ticket prices but equally they’re in a position to intervene if they consider it appropriate).
Sadly it was Delia’s “But there’s always whingers” line in the same interview that seems to have prevailed.
Last season at the same stage of the FA Cup we played Manchester City. Off the back of an actually pretty decent festive period, with a reasonable level of bonhomie in the air and with adult tickets priced at £20 – which from memory didn’t create much of a ripple – the crowd was a thoroughly decent 24,507. And I was there.
Typically the place was full of new faces and children attending Carrow Road for the first time – the next generation. And while there were of course those of a similar ilk yesterday – one the son of a MFW team member – there would have been more if it felt like Jez Moxey and those involved in the price setting actually gave a stuff about the fans.
Because right now it doesn’t. We’re the enemy. A bunch if irritating malcontents who, and here we go again, do nothing but whinge.
Except we don’t. Not really. Not unless we really feel there is something to whinge about. In fact, some of our number perceive the majority as ‘too’ accepting of the way the club is being managed.
There were of course those who stayed away yesterday not just as a result of the ticket pricing (“what’s a fiver” was trotted out by some) but because of the above, yet that stance had been diluted a little by the small steps of progress on the pitch. But it’s worthy of note that some of the 14,000 empty seats were so for that very reason.
Again I suspect the reaction from up on high will be one of scorn rather than concern.
For what it’s worth, those of us involved in the Chase Out protests did not have the benefit of social media to unite and propel and, back then, direct action was the only way to make the collective voice heard. It’s different now. The Board know only too well the strength of feeling – they’re just choosing to ignore it.
But as of 17:00 yesterday said 14,000 empty seats were history, so I’ll leave it there.
As far as matters on the green stuff were concerned, it sounded like a thoroughly decent cup tie – one of the old school if you like – and for City to earn a replay against a Southampton side that included a commensurate number of changes to our own made the result all the more creditable .
Significant too was that Steven Naismith was again central to all that was good and for almost the first time since he’s been in Norfolk seems to be playing with a smile on his face (amidst the frowns and growls). And he looks a better player for it.
In truth he was one of those I’d pencilled in for a January departure – and it may of course still happen – but the signs are he’s fully fit, is finding something like his ‘Everton’ form and is contributing in a positive way. Long may that continue, even if it means the cash-releasing departures will have to be found elsewhere.
Which brings me neatly on to Timm Klose, who departed the ground in a protective boot. The Swiss international is another, whether we like it or not, who will free up some much needed cash were he to depart, so it did seem a little odd to risk him in an FA Cup tie. Similarly if he is now perceived to be Russ’s central defensive partner for the foreseeable.
But Alex chose to play him, possibly to gain some match fitness, Timm proceeded to get injured and then proceeded to incur the wrath of the manager by getting treatment off the pitch as Saints took the lead for the second time. A proper Norwich City type cock-up on an afternoon that was, for once, largely free of them.
That Steven Whittaker also emerged as something of a hero merely added to the quirkiness of an afternoon that was beyond the Carrow Road norm, but credit where credit is due to the Scot who throughout his prolonged spell on the sidelines has been the consummate professional.
By all accounts he was decent yesterday in addition to his well taken penalty and with Russ now seemingly a shoo-in at centre-back it’s important that Ivo Pinto has some competition. He’s derided in some quarters but at Championship level Whittaker is more than capable of doing a job in this team.
So, still small steps of course and Rotherham away next Saturday will be a real acid test but while results veer clear of disaster territory there is zero chance, or reason to be fair, of there being a change in personnel in the management team.
As things stand Alex is getting something of a tune out this squad. Only time will tell if it’s a temporary or more permanent tune.
If it’s the latter I’d best make room for a big ol’ dollop of humble pie.
Michael D says
Well this graph says it all, only Chelsea and Man U had higher home ticket prices… The £25 was really unnecessary and I’m afraid another black mark for Moxey who impresses me less and less with everything he does and says.
As for our performance… congrats to the two Scots for showing real commitment and dedication and for getting us a draw. It seems extremely unlikely it would have happened without their efforts…
Jim Davies says
I was one of the 12479, though as a pensioner, my ticket only cost me a tenner. However, I totally agree that a more sensible pricing structure would have a) improved the revenue, and b) vastly improved the atmosphere. Having said that, the Barclay did manage some choruses of On the Ball City, and the noise level did significantly increase in the last five minutes or so, as people sensed that it was still possible to get something from the game.
I’d hate to see so many empty seats on a regular basis, though. I almost felt sorry for our neighbours down the road, as that’s what they get all the time.
A good result for us but no escaping that Southampton were poor. Good to see Whitaker score a pen but he was out of position and beaten far too many times. Jerome didn’t offer much up front but both murphys were excellent. Time will tell but still not convinced Alex Neil has what it takes to get us up this year. I would be very happy to eat some of that pie though!
What is bothering me is the public criticism of Klose over the second goal, according to a nasty little scotsman he was off the pitch with an injury. He chose to lambast the player in an interview . After watching the highlights Klose is clearly on the pitch, yes out jumped for the ball not off the pitch , behind the goal or anything this idiot says.
Someone in the media needs to highlight this, has he a personal thing against the player to darn right lie
Michael D says
@sixtiebarclay boy, it is interesting to compare AN in interviews now with those he did a year ago. He is much worse now… He comes across as much more niggly and less certain, his sound bites are introverted and focused on himself rather than outward focused on a larger audience and with more strategic messages in mind. He went on and on about Klose.. and yes to have the basic fact wrong is appalling… This being critical of specific players is a new thing for him… If he really is going to improve as a manager for the remainder of this season, and regain our support as well as more fully that of the players.. he’d better stop it.
More concern all along is that he does NOT have a decent deputy there. He seems to be carrying the whole present burden alone on his shoulders, and it would seem that no-one else there is giving him any really sensible advice. That’s the problem he really can and should fix.
It was Martin who was out jumped for the goal. Klose was in front of the city stand on the replay from behind the goal.
sixtiebarclayboy- Klose is off the pitch with the physio. Russel Martin is outjumped by Yoshida. Think Neil was probably right about this one.
Good piece, Gary although you seem uncharacteristically gloomy! I agree about Naismith, he does seem to be happier and finding a bit of form – I hope it’s not because he knows he’s off soon!
Not sure what highlights you’ve been watching sixtiebarclayboy, but Klose definitely was off the pitch and it was Martin that was outjumped for the second goal. Probably best to get your facts straight before calling people idiots.
Norwich city fc are painful to be part of. Money, deadwood (particularly someone who isn’t good enough to be a right back getting shoehorned in as our captain and centre back when he’s as incapable as Neil trying to do the right thing), embarrassing form and a totally rotten board who smack of dickensian bureaucrats unable (or unwilling) to listen through their early trumpet.
@give-it-tovarco- what other facts do you need to call Neil an idiot? Just because sixties got this one wrong, he still has plenty in the bank to call the man an idiot.
Ps. Many people I know have said they have lost the NCFC buzz and no longer care for the yellas. That’s very difficult to do to any supporter, and a damming indictment for the board who, as you say, are not there for listening. The only way things will change is once the smiths are removed. We need hope and they offer nothing but disappointment and embarrassment.
And…a decent manager would find a way to keep their best players on board. Not isolate them and sell them and go all smug saying you made the right choice which is why you had to publicly abuse him. All those suggesting Neil is right couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t do that in public, no matter what. You back your players and abuse the ref for not stopping it anf go at timmy behind Klosed doors.
I just watched it again and on the close up yea saw Klose in background, my apologies.. need my eyes tested. still any mention should be made in the dressing room.
See give it to varco some can apologise. got a better copy now too. Still think he is a idiot
Michael D I think he is drawing close to showing more narcissistic traits
Super stuff Gary, just about spot on again. I find it incredible that only Chelsea and Manchester United charged more for the privilege of attending than us.
Some of the other prices ranged from £10 to £15. You rightly point out the obvious hypocrisy in smiths trilled nonsense about “worship” and the accompanying rant.
If the maligned and aforementioned Robert chase had pulled such a stunt he would rightly have received dogs abuse for it. I recall paying nothing for the uefa cup run during his tenure as the cost was included in the season tickets. Be careful what you wish for indeed.
The complete lack of atmosphere didn’t help a decent effort by our side, particularly as you state, Naismith. There is a good argument that southamptons flaky goalkeeper should have been dismissed for two yellows for his bizarre performance.
Klose was indeed off the field, in some discomfort and clearly unable to continue for about two or three minutes. During which time the ball was in our possession and out of play, throw ins, a corner, all defended with ten men. The referee even ran across to tell Klose to roll further away from the pitch so Southampton could enjoy their corner ! During this time I was calling for Bennett to come on with immediate effect as fit or not, it wouldn’t have been worth the risk to,Klose to carry on. Notwithstanding the obvious need for parity of numbers.
With the exception of Jerome, penalty apart he was atrocious, fair play to the team, decent fighting draw in the circumstances that might have yielded a win with the addition of another ten thousand Voices roaring them on.
Er. Sorry everyone I’m going to be positive here. Look away now.
I took my 4 yr old son yesterday and it was the best atmosphere I’ve experienced for a while. Ok it was quiet but there was none of the bitching and whining that has been so prevalent since Lambert left. There were lots of families having fun just watching a game of football – a half decent game of football at that. Granted, nether team gave more than 75% but NCFC worked their way into it after 20 mins of almost total Saints domination and those who were there enjoyed it, cheered for the team, sung songs and appreciated what was there.
It doesn’t change the bigger picture – and kudos to those masses who didn’t go, the vast empty seats certainly made the point – but for those of us who did it was a surprisingly pleasant experience that reminded us of the value of just turning up to watch football for the football.
As always Gary, an excellent piece.
My wife and I have season tickets, but were 2 non-attendees yesterday, mainly due to the price which, let’s face it, based on recent performances except Derby, was extortionate.
Last season for the Man City tie we did attend, and took our grandson, who has now switched allegiance from Chelsea! The price was lower, and (no disrespect to Southampton), with Man City’s squad we knew we would see some world class players.
Well done to those who DID go yesterday, well done to the players to have got a replay after the draw which seemed to be a fair result.
But then why oh why does Mr. Neil have to ruin it all with his very public condemnation of Timm Klose’s action?
O T B C
Bob in Diss says
Michael D – pedantic maybe but that’s a table not a graph. Less pedantic, the person who put it together was https://twitter.com/ffion_/status/817668943418707969. Credit where due.
What the table shows me is that the only Champ sides at home to PL sides were us & Preston. Preston charged £24 i.e. not out of line with us. They had a 22k crowd but Arsenal are a bigger draw than S’ton and Preston fans have seen much less PL opposition than us. Add in the general air of negativity about our club after a relegation & poor league run and Bob’s your uncle for our crowd of 12-13k. If we had drawn Arsenal, I suspect it would have been a 20+k crowd.
I have no problem with anyone choosing not to pay a price they feel is beyond their limit/means. However, some of the high-moral c**p circulating around on Twitter etc is tedious beyond belief. Those season ticket holders who did go are just as ‘true’ fans as those who didn’t but of course all the noise is generated by the stay-aways. I’m sure the board took note of the ‘statement’ that was made.
As for the ‘Klose’ criticism – yet another mountain from a mole hill of late.
I thought it was a great battling performance against a strong and good PL side – well played lads & Alex.
Gary Gowers says
Jeff (12) Not for the first time of late I find myself agreeing with you. To call out Klose so publicly did the manager few favours. Imagine Sir Alex or Wenger doing the same? Wouldn’t happen in front of the cameras but instead anyone but the players would be blamed. In the confines of the dressing room is the proper/only place.
Dave B says
I listened to the commentary. Usually between Radio Norfolk, the canary player highlights, and social media you have a good idea of how a game went. I’ll be honest, I have no idea if we played well against a good Southampton team, or we were lucky against a poor one. I guess we’ll get to find out at Southampton.
I’ll add my usual portion of realism.
The board still don’t have a clue, as Gary covered well.
As for current form, I’m still not convinced we’ve “turned a corner”. Perhaps beginning to straighten up after going in the wrong direction. But let’s face it, this ‘improved form’ is a draw against a very poor team, a win against a ten man team (who, yes we were beating before the sending off, but by 1 precarious goal), and a draw.
Wednesday are currently in the last playoff place. They are earning 1.68 pts per match. That’s 8.4pts over a five game period. So to stay in contention, over the next five games we need to win at least three and preferably four to begin to close the 5pt gap. We’re no where near that form right now. Our next five games are all against very poor, bottom half of the table opposition. If we can’t win four of these we’re in real trouble.
Dave H says
Interesting article, as much for the tone as the content. With regards to the point you finish with, I believe Stewart said something similar this week, however I disagree with you both. People were right to expect Neil to be sacked – the evidence was (and probably still is) there to justify that. If he can turn it round it would say more about the boards luck than their judgement so you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking he should go. The one good thing I’d say now is that the players don’t look like they’ve downed tools. However, the situation with Klose makes me feel uneasy and is a cause for concern.
I would agree with Dave. It’s clear that there is some substance in the story relating to the huge contract Neil now enjoys. Given his record this season is poorer than Adams before he was sacked, he can count himself lucky that the club hasn’t got the funds necessary to dispense with him as it did,his predecessor.
Cyprus Canary says
Klose is off the field and Martin is beaten to the header so how does Alex say Klose would have been preventing the goal. Good managers don’t criticise players in public.