As the saying goes, as a football fan you have to endure the bad times in order to fully embrace and celebrate the good times.
All true I guess unless you’ve opted to be a fan of a random ‘big club’, in which case you’ve given yourself some control over the good/bad ratio. But the point still stands.
There’s also the classic ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ line to lean on, when the brown stuff and the fan come into full-on contact.
Again, true to a degree, and we all know what Friedrich Nietzsche was trying to say, even if we didn’t know who Friedrich Nietzsche was until we just Googled him.
But all of that nonsense becomes one big, steaming, pile of bulls**t when you’ve just watched the football club you love succumb, with no resistance whatsoever, to the most feeble, the most gut-less, the most passion-less, the most ineptly handled relegation campaign ever.
Quite how inept it’s been is tricky to convey in 1000 words but I’ll start with reeling off the scores of our last three home games: 0-3, 0-4 and 0-5.
At a time when other relegation-threatened teams are scrapping for their lives, we do the opposite. Instead of scrapping, we fade and fizzle. Even with our fate already sealed, we could have at least expected professional pride to kick in and produce some fire and brimstone.
That 20,000+ fans have been there for every home game, all itching to have something to cheer and roar on, yet have been given absolutely *nothing* to get behind has been nothing short of a disgrace.
Goals for: Zero. Goals against 12.
How utterly pathetic is that.
And imagine also just shrugging, and thinking, ‘oh well, we go again in July’.
Now I have to be a little careful as my own season fizzled out quicker than City’s.
Although I didn’t realise it at the time, my Carrow Road season ended on 23 April, when we were spanked 3-0 by Newcastle. Since then, ill health has prevented me from making the trek, so it’s all been viewed through the prism of a PC screen and I’ve been unable to tap into the general feeling around the place.
But I gather that apathy rather than anger prevails, and this appears to be backed up by only the smattering of boos that have been audible at every half-time and full-time whistle.
I honestly cannot think of a single club in the other 91 where this level of inadequacy and hopelessness would be tolerated. Not one. And, yes, I do believe that emanates from the very top.
Name me another club that would end the season with a -61 goal difference – the second-worst in Premier League history – and whose fans still be willing to applaud their efforts?
Name me another club whose owners are so accepting of failure that those within the club who have been tasked with delivering are not under even the slightest hint of internal pressure?
In fact, on that subject, name me another club who while undergoing the season from hell, would still be happy to run without a chief operating officer (or CEO) or chairman?
And yet we question why there appears a lack of leadership and why everything has gone belly up off the pitch as well as on it.
As it transpires, the behind-the-scenes clinical efficiency that we were told made us smarter and more innovative than the rest has fizzled out quicker than Dean Smith’s honeymoon period.
Speak to anyone who either works for the club or who knows someone who works in the non-football part of the operation and you hear the same word over and over. Shambles.
All of that could be overlooked if, in spite of the off-field chaos, good things were still happening on the pitch. But, of course, they weren’t.
The sheer ineptitude of the footballing side of our football club is somehow trumping the chaos off it.
A club with (at the moment) no redeeming features.
While Burnley and Watford were quick to tweet out apologetic messages to their fans at the end of proceedings yesterday, our club said ‘here’s what Dean Smith had to say about today’s defeat’.
A minor thing maybe, and I can’t believe there won’t be a statement, or at least something, over the next couple of days, but it just felt another opportunity missed to convey how the club does at least understand how the fans are feeling.
But I’m not sure they do.
I suspect Delia and Michael think if they batten down the hatches, keep their heads down for a few weeks and allow enough time to pass for City fans to start looking forward instead of backward, then slowly the fans will come round just as they always do.
Throw a couple of new signings into the mix, sell a couple of our best players to fill the inevitable financial black hole, and off we jolly well go again.
And the sad thing is, they’re probably right.
We’ve fallen for it before and we’ll fall for it again, especially if somehow we manage a couple of wins by mid-August.
But so dire has this season been and so dire is the future under this current model, why the hell should we all just sit back and await the return of the good times as if they’re a somehow god-given right? This model denies the head coach a squad that’s good enough to compete
I decried the efforts of the players at the start of this piece, and I do still seriously question the heart and desire, but ultimately we’re asking Championship standard players to keep us in the Premier League.
It may work in a one-off campaign if the planets align and literally everything goes right, but as a model, it’s wholly incompatible with producing a team that can sustainably compete in the top flight. The stats don’t lie.
Of course, the usual suspects will come after me for asking the question, but are we really all content for more of the same?
Even if there is *literally* no one out there willing to inject some cash into this football club, even if the *only* option is for it to be self-funded, even if we have no choice but to only spend the revenues we raise ourselves, then I still believe this club would be better off with a change of leadership at the very top.
Delia and Michael are not, however many times I’m told otherwise, the only two individuals in the whole world who are worthy and capable of owning this football club.
I’ve given up on the idea of new money coming in. Every time I mention it, it becomes ever clearer there’s no appetite for it from those who matter and far too many obstacles are put in the way for it to ever happen, but at the very least it needs new voices, a new direction and fresh ideas.
Who knows, then maybe we would be a more attractive proposition for someone or something.
And I know (before anyone reminds me) that’s the wrong way to view it.
I know football itself should be looking at a self-funding model rather than taking the billionaire route, but if Norwich City is going to hang around waiting for football to finally agree that its way is the only way, then it’s going to have a bloody long wait.
As the curtain closes on the most miserable season imaginable, never before has this club been more in need of a fresh outlook and new ideas.