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.