If you’ve not seen Robin Sainty’s EDP column of yesterday, then I strongly urge you to give it a read. As ever, he nails it and one sentence, in particular, stood out:
“What should be a pleasure is becoming a chore for many and that’s not good.”
Too right it’s not good, but it’s absolutely true. In fact, I’d suggest ‘for many’ could be swapped with ‘for most’.
And even amid the small steps forward we witnessed yesterday, and the moments of excitement within the 97 minutes, that overriding sense of apathy remains.
I didn’t feel as devastated and gutted as I should have when Teemu Pukki’s weak penalty was saved by Adam Davies. Nor was I out of my chair when Angus Gunn made that brilliant save from Oli McBurnie in the dying seconds to earn us a point.
And, while I was of course delighted that City somehow managed to engineer themselves a 2-0 lead, that delight was tempered; partly by the fact I’ve seen that film before (and it doesn’t have a happy ending), and partly because of said apathy.
I never want to see City lose of course – and I deplore the sentiment (as evidenced on Twitter yesterday) that a City defeat is deemed a price worth paying if it edges Dean Smith closer to the exit – but the joylessness that Robin describes seeps from every pore of our club.
No excitement; no anticipation; no buzz; no more sense of belonging.
My uncle and I were talking before last week’s game with Luton about how, (violins at the ready) back in the day when we both played football at weekends, everything that happened in the week was a prelude to the Saturday afternoon. In fact, the working week was a mere distraction.
And when things are going well for City, the same applies to us as fans.
Work is again a mere distraction and idle thoughts turn to the next Norwich game. Who will make the starting XI? Will Carrow Road (or the City away end) be bouncing? Etc Etc.
But there is little of that. It is, as Robin describes it, a chore.
What should be fun is anything but. Even a high-octane 2-2 at Brammall Lane fails to get the adrenalin pumping. And that’s not right.
I don’t believe it’s just a Dean Smith thing, even if he and Craig Shakespeare have failed to connect in the way we would like. It runs deeper than a head coach whose team plays an uninspiring brand of football.
The disconnect runs like a golden thread through the club. From top to bottom. To blame just Dean Smith is, for me, missing the point.
Part of the malaise, which has been discussed at length here and on other platforms, is the prize for which we’re supposedly competing. But there is no alternative.
If a football club is not aiming to be the very best it can be, then what’s the point? Yet, if we were to be successful this season, then we’d be without any doubt at all exposing ourselves to another nine months of pain, misery, and brutality.
And why would anyone do that? Yet the club’s accounts produced in the week suggest that promotion is an absolute must.
So, we’re stuck in this footballing hinterland of wanting to win games of football because that’s what you do while knowing that if we win too many we’re probably, from a footballing perspective, going to end up wishing we hadn’t.
(And, before anyone says it, yes, it is an English football thing, not just a Norwich City thing.)
But this feeling of being in limbo, coupled with the quality of fare on offer makes for a toxic mix when you also chuck in the obvious disconnect between the club and supporters.
It is, I regret to say, a proper old muddle.
And to make matters worse, those buggers down the A140 are cock-a-hoop, and with good reason. For once, their joy unconfined isn’t just borne of our struggles. Instead, they now have a team to be proud of and a sense of togetherness that, right now, we can only dream of.
It shouldn’t concern us but, of course, it does. Human nature and all that.
After well over a decade in the wilderness, we shouldn’t begrudge them their moment in the sun, but that it’s come at a time when things are so unsettled and uncertain in Norwich City world just brings it all home.
But anyway … on the pitch, there were some positives – namely in the return to the starting XI of Dimi Giannoulis and Isaac Hayden – but as both tired so too did City’s chances of winning the game.
The first half was good in places – and it was great to see Teemu Pukki’s endless chasing down of keepers eventually pay off – but there was little good to come of the second as we again demonstrated our inability to control the tempo of a match.
The last thing we needed was for the Blades to get a foothold in the game, for their crowd to get involved and for it to become chaotic, frantic, and end-to-end.
All of those things happened.
A draw certainly wasn’t obvious grounds for pulling the trigger on the head coach, but the way the second half was managed – both on and off the pitch – did absolutely nothing to further his cause.
That last half-an-hour was a muddle – and a good representation of our club right now.
Very fair piece, at times I wonder if you could write a generic piece to use after each game, as the games seems to follow a set pattern. Plus Smiff’s post-match comments. Bad referee decisions, Not getting in their faces, Not winning the second ball, yap yap yap.
I stayed listening to the first half, thinking we will not build on this, more than likely give it away. After getting tea ready to pop in the oven I turned the wireless back on to hear the penalty miss. thought that,s my lot. Dreading Tuesday’s game, think a mauling may be on the cards.
I know it is the Sun, there must be some smoke rising
According to The Sun, Norwich City are set to turn to former Canaries player and current Swansea manager Russell Martin if they sack Dean Smith.
I am not convinced by Russ as yet, but not being a Swans fan I would not expect to be, but the guy loved the club, had some guts to face the media, more often than not.
The question is not if bur when they pull the plug to many and I count myself in that number Tuesday just might be a game to far.
Would RM take the job and would city afford the compo would be question 2.
Hopefully RM would realise that he would be the sacrificial lamb to take the heat from the owners and Webber.
With RM we would see the return of Gill another ex city player and coach with his little bit of blue.
Game sumed up the last few weeks totally in control at 2 nil chances to kill the game
Sharpe take a swip at the ball going out for throw in, instead fall straight to a blade 5 yards out, second if you had had a fit Byram the guy at the back stick would never had a free header and even then mcburney does not make a clean contact and it goes in!
Norwich are such hard work at the minute, is it the football or just life in general no one has clue what’s happening in 3 days let alone 3 mths.
MYSTIC KEV says
Good piece Gary that summed up my feelings to a t just a big worry that this defence can’t keep it together for 90mins and thank gunn for being in right place in injury time . Standard of refereeing again poor could have been nine against ten would have been had it been Premiership but I now beginning to think that is wishful thinking on recent evidence.
I am looking forward to Dean using his stats to objectively discuss this game. It’s come to my attention that he is obsessed with referencing them – to try and display his amazing knowledge…
Yesterday, ‘We should have been out of sight after 65 mins…’
Shots: 22 Utd; 9 NCFC
On target: 8; 5
Expected goals: 2.59 (very high) v 1.21 and that includes a penalty!
Now on a subjective note – Some interesting highly developed ways of creating chances I see… 🤔; ‘Give it to Max. He will have no idea what to do with it, dribble inside and smash it with his left foot for them to go gift us a goal.’
The one stat Smith never gives is the one that counts most that the opposition have out scored us in the last few games.
Saying stats prove we were the better team is nit picking the only thing that counts is how many goes in to the big onion bag for either side the team that does it the most wins the game so stuff his stats
Of course it is not just the manager’s fault but he is the one who takes responsibility for the results(and gets a nice pay off if things go wrong).It’s no good blaming people, you have to look what changes to make to improve things, you can’t sack everyone who’s made a mistake.
Under a bad coach players’ values will deteriorate and that’s what has happened, sending expensive players out on loan is an admission of guilt. Stopping players from moving on for our short term gains is going to cause problems. We wanted to get 100 points and for Pukki to score 40 goals but that just shows why we’re a yo yo club- or were. For me the worrying things are:
The manager can’t get the best out of the players
The long term plan has been abandoned.
We didn’t strengthen problem positions when we had the chance.
We have still got time to put things right but it needs to happen soon.
Good account of where we’re at Gary.
At the moment I have less enthusiasm for City games than I did pre Lambert days. I think the reason for this is due to the way the game has continued to require more wealth than ever to sit at the top table and therefore City have gone as far as possible under the current regime. We are now on a downward slide which is obvious to all apart from our majority shareholders.
We can change the manager (my personal preference would be Mark Robins) but this would not change matters in the long term.
Self funding has run it’s course and demonstrated it has no place at the top level but unfortunately our owners hold on to power in the tragic belief that any alternative would be disastrous for the club.
The only glimmer of hope is an eventual sale of the club to our recent investors.
No complaints from me, good game, sometimes one has to accept the fair, and ponder on that post match pint.
I was settling into my pint in Sheffield when I was surprised to see a lady with a blue and white scarf. Surely not an Owl. I overheard he saying that someone appeared to want to spit on it. She unraveled the said item, a lovely NHS scarf, a colleague no less.
A good read on a wet and dull day in Blackpool.
Wasn’t it another of the columnists said manageable debt is how most clubs survive but the art was in managing said debt, For a self financing club that must be even more important that those that have a sugar daddy.
Well with the last set of accounts being released it seems the person or persons that are responsible for managing said debt have really made a muck and fuddle of it that could put city on the brink of a financial dooms day, I did read since these owners have been here there has been 3 times before it nearly happened.
Once is bad luck and you should learn from it but if the others are true then they really aren’t fit to run a newspaper kiosk on Great Yarmouth seafront.
Let’s see what Tuesday brings
There is a malaise. No doubt about it. We lack characters and we lack players who will be excited by promotion and would give it a right go. There is the basis of a good team there but in my view Dean Smith is not the man to take us up. I am sick of the excuses. The only question for me is whether to pull the trigger now or later when the likes of Cooper at Forest may be available who would be a good fit for us. The problem is now exacerbated by the latest accounts which show that we have a financial burden if we don’t make it this year.
The problems run through the club. Stuart Webber wanted to leave, and we are seemingly happy to let him try for another job. That doesn’t send good signals. Dean Smith is a Villa man who will never buy into this club. He is just wrong on every level. To remove him would require Webber to admit he was wrong. Tough ask. We have players who are miles away from Premier league level. What’s in it for them? I’d love to see us go for someone like the guy at QPR but I expect we’ll hang on, looking for another failed manager. We are in danger of being this year’s West Brom and Dean Smith has all the qualities required to take us there. No plan, no improvement of players and yes, those endless excuses.
As for those others, it’s all exciting for them. They haven’t done anything since the last century. I believe they have a glorious history, but they never mention it..
This is one of the best articles I’ve read the pleasure of reading on a City theme in a while.
As you say Gary, the club isn’t interested in being the best it can be. In its current guise there isn’t actually a point to us.
Promotion is already unlikely and as you rightly say, yet again the cook and her cohort have led us to the brink of financial meltdown.
In the name of all that’s holy stand aside and relinquish your grip on the club before it goes down the toilet woman.
Tim Ball says
Good evening, Martin.
I really hope you soon feel a lot better and can come of these accursed tablets.
I know how you feel, I am on so many tablets now I rattle😂and watching some of the games this season I do get worried I may have another heart attack!!!
Let’s be honest it hasn’t been good. My period of optimism is waning. I now accept it will be playoffs at best.
The financial news was really staggering. The money they were paying those young boy’s last season all I can say is …..wow. Nice work if you can get it.
And tomorrow night😱an early Halloween for the boys? Personally, I think Burnley will comfortably win the Championship so it could be tin hat time tomorrow. I always hope for a Along Come Norwich reverse but it seldom if never happens.
We do not look like we can ever keep a clean sheet.
It is strange that we now have our last Championship winning back four who were fantastic at keeping the goals down but now look really off it.
Max is not relishing working under Smith, that is plain to see he doesn’t look allowed to cross the halfway line, Ben Gibson as has been alluded to seems to have really been affected by long term injuries and a massive loss of form. Grant Hanley is still playing reasonably well but there is too much on his shoulders and finally Dimi, cannot judge, wouldn’t be fair after being out for so long.
But it was so interesting that the inclusion of Dimi and Isaac, at least until they understandably tired, made a big difference.
Now people like me and you Martin and many others on here are just supporters. In the words of Glenn Roeder “when was my last England cap?”
But we both said it seemed madness to let Bali Mumba go out on loan in light of Max’s possible transfer and Sam Byram’s injury record. Add the fact he can play on the left it made him a vital squad member for this season.
Back to Isaac, why oh why did we go for yet another attacking midfielder in Aaron Ramsey (who to be fair has done reasonably well) and not another holding midfielder to back up Isaac Hayden? Especially with Isaac’s injury record.
How many points have we lost this season by not keeping Bali and having another defensive midfielder? Perhaps Smith is right, get a proper left back and a screening defensive midfielder in there and the results will improve. So why haven’t the club helped Smith more in this position?
Look at Tettey and Skipp’s performances in the last two Championship wins. Having that kind of player fit and on top form would really help our beleaguered defense massively.
What happened to two players for every position. Lambert/Culverhouse and Farke had it in their pomp.
Like Gil I said to my wife once Sheffield United had wiped out our 2-0 lead that we needed the spirit of Millwall (A) Fleck 3-2. Unfortunately, we got Teemu’s pass back to the goalkeeper from the penalty spot. Too much indecision on who was taking the bloody thing.
My poor mate Marty is battling unbelievable work rota’s to travel away to support his team and I think it is about time he and the other 2,699 fans were rewarded with a really good away performance.
But what do I know, I have never played for England.
Great piece by Gary cannot add anymore as it’s been said already , will things get better I doubt it but if it did would I feel better I don’t think so as with going up you just know what’s coming , instead of a manager and sporting director ( gasp) would probably be better off with a Magician for the football team , and a few more for the board