Those who know me will tell you I’m a sucker for an underdog. ‘Empathy’ could be my middle name and I know for a fact that I take it way too far.
In the odd moment of extreme weakness, I’ve even expressed begrudging sympathy for that stubborn, erratic-with-the-truth, vicar’s daughter who was charged (or perhaps should be charged) with delivering the fantasy that is Brexit.
Crazy right? But that’s how low I can sink when feeling sorry for those who are under fire. Over the years, this has made for a tricky time and some difficult moments in my City supporting lifetime.
Among those who have had my (almost) full support – often undeserving – are Tim Sherwood, Jean Yves be Blassis (remember him?), Victor Segura, Mark Rivers and Steve Morison, all of whom incurred the wrath of the City faithful at some point of their time in the Fine City. Hell, I even felt a tinge of sympathy for the beleaguered Andy Hughes for a few fleeting seconds.
This unhealthy trait has naturally caused the odd verbal ruck over the years and has extended to managers too, with my support for one Chris Hughton lasting far longer than it should have done… although in my defence I did see the light before the board 🙂
Why am I sharing this now?
Well, over the season I found myself at odds with some very nice people who reside near me in the River End who share a different view to mine when it comes to one Marco Stiepermann. They’re entitled to theirs, I’m entitled to mine, but this is one player on whose merits we’re never destined to agree on.
They see a player who’s all arms and legs, who does everything too slowly, who gives the ball away and who frustrates the $hit of them.
I see one who’s integral to Farkeball, who intelligently occupies that crucial space betwixt midfield and Teemu Pukki, who chips in with his fair share of goals, has a sound technique and who is always looking to make things happen. And, to be fair, I also saw a half-decent player when he was filling in at left-back last season – a position that was clearly not his chosen one.
The Stieperdude, as our Martin P christened him, didn’t feature in the Barry Butler top three, nor did he make any representative XIs, and nor will he be filling too many column inches over the summer as, out of begrudging necessity, the national journos familiarise themselves with our heroes.
But, for me, he is the poster boy of Farkeball, and which is why I was elated at the news he’s here for three more years.
Hopefully, there are many more weird, crab-like goal celebrations to come.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) May 28, 2019
It’s not Frank Lampard’s fault that the media adore him in the way they do. He appears a nice enough chap, but the way he’s portrayed and fawned over by the MSM is nauseating.
That Villa were ultimately just a little too good for Derby must have been crushing for many in the Wembley press box, but at least they had the consolation of Dean Smith’s managerial assistant being one John Terry – who incidentally kept an unusually low(ish) profile for once.
The debate that ensued before and after around who we would have prefered to win was a bit futile because (a) we didn’t get to choose and (b) both sides have owners with deep pockets who will spend the summer expensively assembling a new-look squad.
As it transpired, Villa’s win and pending spending splurge has already convinced the bookies that they are better equipped than either Sheffield Utd or ourselves to survive next season, even though City beat them twice and finished 18 points ahead of them.
But hey, we expected this and this is only but the beginning, with the football guru that is Noel Gallagher also proudly announcing in the city over the weekend that us going back from whence we came is a mere formality.
Let them. While we know it’s going to be tough, we also know we are in safe hands and will be managed better than (in my view) at least half of the Premier League. And let them ignore the fact we play with such fluency and precision; something that has barely warranted a mention since promotion was confirmed.
Instead of the soundbites and snipes coming out of the MSM, I prefer to listen to those that emerge from closer to home. Like Mr Trybull telling the Hamburg Morning Post, ‘We did not go up to just take mobile phone pictures in the stadiums as tourists … we want to do it in our style, it can be a nice season for us.’
Well said, Tom. That’ll do for me.