“Impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things.”
― Janette Oke
I stumbled across this quote the other day and instantly drew parallels to Norwich City.
The current calls for patience from the more measured amongst us who are prepared to give the current set-up the time it deserves, aimed at those (like myself) who are getting frustrated with watching the slow progress of our ‘work in progress’.
Whilst not naturally blessed with either patience or wisdom, I do understand that to abandon the masterplan at this stage would be extremely foolish.
It’s like trying to mow the lawn, five minutes after laying the grass seed and then saying “stuff it, I’ll have a patio instead”.
Some of City’s performances this season have had all the entertainment value of watching grass grow, but last Saturday’s victory over Villa might just represent a few green shoots emerging.
Next season will be my 40th of going to Carrow Road.
Over the first 29, I saw City get relegated four times and promoted three times.
The following ten (including this one) have seen three promotions and three relegations.
Across the last decade, we’ve become accustomed to battling at one end of the table or the other. It’s exciting. It’s addictive. And there is a generation of City supporters who know nothing else.
It’s little wonder therefore that some feel despondent after two years of mid-table mediocrity and having ‘nothing to play for’.
This isn’t what football’s about, right?
But it was.
When reminiscing about the past, I’m always reminded of Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch.
Those of a similar vintage may remember it, but it’s true that “when I were a lad”, things were very different.
There was no internet to immerse yourself in the latest comings and goings. I was reliant on MFW’s very own Rick Waghorn and waiting for Dad to nip down to the newsagents for a copy of the ‘original’ Pink ‘Un on a Saturday evening.
No such thing as Sky Sports and their 24-hour coverage spanning umpteen channels. The launch of Channel 4 in 1982 brought the sum total of channels up to… (you guessed it). I still remember our first television that came with a remote control and the wonderment of changing channels without having to haul your backside off the sofa.
No mobile phones with their sports apps. Ceefax page 302 was the place to go to for latest scores and football news and waiting for its pages to scroll around.
No Twitter. The only means of gauging the prevailing mood of the fanbase was at the matches and hearing the blokes behind me shout “thass a load of rubbish, buh”.
Over time, we have become a society which expects things instantly and exactly to our liking.
Where we complain if we ‘can’t get a signal’ or the WiFi is too slow.
Where we watch sport ‘on demand’ and can pause, play and rewind as we see fit and from all manner of camera angles.
A society where we converse, argue and make ‘friends’ with people on social media that we’ve never met face to face. Follow, block and mute to tailor the content on our timelines to mirror our way of thinking.
It’s a mentality which spans all aspects of life, including football.
Despite what Sky would like you to believe, football wasn’t invented with the birth of the ‘Premiership’ in 1992, and it remains the same game of 11 v 11 with a goal at each end.
What has changed is the amount of money that has flooded into the top tier. Huge media deals have upped the ante and attracted further investment from millionaire owners.
Demands and expectations are at an all-time high.
We want success and we want it now.
It’s why so many managers are given their P45s after a string of bad results. And why so many promising youngsters struggle to make the transition from the elite club’s academies into their first-team squads.
Why take a chance and the time developing your own talent when you can throw cash at the finished articles and ready-made alternatives?
City’s slow-burning, self-funding, sustainable approach flies in the face of all that. It takes time and patience; things that are in such short supply in today’s society.
Some supporters applaud the approach and have bought into the long-term aspirations.
Others demand a quick fix. If the current regime can’t deliver instant success, then replace it with one that can.
When it comes to the latter, I’m as guilty as anyone. The sort of person who pays the premium for next day delivery or priority boarding, and overly uses the phrase ‘life’s too short’.
Despite, or maybe because, I’ve watched so many seasons of mediocrity in the second flight, the prospect of ‘watching the grass grow’ and writing off the next couple of seasons is not particularly appealing.
There is no right or wrong, but as I started this piece with a quote about wisdom and patience, it seems apt to finish with one too.
“The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time.”