The silence is deafening.
It appears they have pulled the coaches in close and have hunkered down. Not for the first time.
Which is, I guess, what you do when there is flak flying that you feel is undeserved and is being delivered by folk who simply don’t understand.
They feel that by sitting tight, answering to no one and ignoring the noise, the season will just fizzle out and they’ll have the summer months to go through the motions of a reset.
That’ll shut ’em up.
The contempt felt and shown by some people in the upper echelons of the club for its supporters – especially those who raise their voices and demand answers – knows no bounds. We have been for some time, and we remain, the enemy.
So I suppose, on that basis, the idea that someone in authority would front up and attempt to address the very loud calls for change is fanciful.
When you think you’ve done nothing wrong and when you believe it’s all of those doing the shouting who are in the wrong, then why would you?
So much for the fans being the lifeblood of the football club.
But, as difficult as it is right now, it does help sometimes to at least try and understand the opposing view.
In response to my article of yesterday, one comment stood out above all others. It was calm, measured, and took the opposite view to my own – namely that instead of lambasting Delia and Michael for their current management of the club, we should be grateful to them.
Quote: “I hold Delia and Michael entirely responsible for ensuring the club exists for my nephews and nieces to support and for maintaining the reputation of the club as a family-friendly place. Everything else is just football”.
It concluded with a stinging one-liner: “It’s the end of a cycle not the end of the world”.
All of which, I confess, was food for thought.
Regardless of the hows and whys, this certainly does feel like the denouement of a cycle that began when Stuart Webber walked through the door in the spring of 2017. Of that, there is no argument.
But this has been no gradual decline and slow return to the position from whence we came. This has come from a position where, at the start of the season, the club itself was talking up its chances of not only earning one of the two automatic promotion places but of winning the title.
That we’ve fallen so far short of achieving that clearly stated goal must surely call into question some of the decision-making that has led us down this path.
Because recent experience had shown us that it wasn’t an unrealistic target.
Okay, at some point the magic dust had to run out and three back-to-back Championship triumphs straddled across two Premier League no-shows was a very big ask, but the big questions have been asked because of just how far removed we are now away from that dream outcome.
We’ve not just dropped off a couple of beats, we’ve fallen off a cliff.
And it’s from there where this anger and exasperation has been borne.
This feels like an opportunity lost. One where we held some significant advantages over many of the teams around us.
We had a squad with some Premier League quality sprinkled among it. We had two seasons’ worth of parachute payments designed specifically to help us retain some of those good players. And, crucially, we had recent experience of what it takes to do well in this division.
But not one of those supposed advantages has been effectively utilised.
Yet, when we say this out loud we’re told we know not what we’re talking about and that we should at least be grateful for the journey we have been on.
To us, it feels like a stand-off. To the local media, with whom the club engages at the bare minimum level, it feels like a standoff. But to those in power in the club’s inner sanctum, this is cool. This is how they want it. All perfectly normal.
All of which is entirely within their gift, but which also does nothing for the general bonhomie around the place, especially when the fans feel they have something to complain about.
If Stuart Webber wishes to play the role of a pantomime villain, then he should be big enough to take it on the chin when it’s he who Carrow Road turns on. As it did.
His time here has drawn to its natural conclusion, but his bravado will only allow it to conclude on his own terms. So, I suspect, it will continue.
Damaged, fractured, broken even, but limping along.
The big concern for some is whether or not a meaningful summer reset can take place with him at the helm.
And that may be a question that can only be answered by the Attanasios.
If we want change we have to affect change, and bedsheets outside the City Stand won’t do that.
Delia and Michael are hardened to a lot of the dissent and in many ways that’s what’s made them such reliable custodians of the club. That they haven’t thrown in the towel whenever we grumble is probably one of the reasons why we have steadily expected more and more.
However, they are only immune to so much and if we want change we need to think about how it’s happened before: Gunny having season tickets thrown at him; Worthy having an entire stadium turn; Hughton being booed at home; Moxey being told where to go; Smith crossing a line that the fans couldn’t let him get away with.
If we want Webber gone, up the action, keep it clean and safe but very much make it clear. The Smiths do not like affirmative, visual action but it works.
Sax yellow says
There’s no passion left.
Webber the Pantomime Dame more like it.
He will only leave on his own terms that’s if he ever gets another promotion then he will walkway boasting a successful job done and dusted forgetting all the things that he has failed doing in his time at the club.
No one wants to see Smith and Jones drummed out of the club but everyday they look more and more like a milder version of the Oysten Family that stayed to longer at Blackpool 27years in total, Owen 5, Wife 4 and Son 19 years and it took a court judge to finally remove them.
Will our owners continue in place or will the Yanks pull the plug, for someone who so he says prides himself on openess, community Communication and supporters trust he’s either bidding his time or doesn’t want to get into S###housing with the current majority share holders either way as you say the silence is deafening from all quarters.
City might be on the extreme edges of the football in the UK and the media might ignore us but Delia even this late in her celeb status still has he friends in the media world that will not hear a bad thing spoken about her.
You can’t compare them the Oystons, that’s untrue and unfair and brings the debate down to a despicable level. They need to go but you need to think about your comparisons before making such ridiculous comments.
The Oysten started out with good I tension just like the majority share holders and wanted the club to be self funding and Ian Holloway said that they were the best owners he worked for.
My comment does say milder but in that I meant its been 26years of mostly stagnation and like the Oystens they have never built on any success to maintain it.
The Oystens had a great dislike for the local media and supporters which our owners also have.
The Oystens are/were much richer than our owners and used the club as a gravy train, while our refuse to either invest or look for investment until recently.
The Oysten had their own happy clappers just like our owners but gradually those diminished just like the ones at Norwich are.
I’m sorry you might feel offended by my comparison but I say again a milder version with so many similarities in the stubbornness of ownership and not having the commonsense to know when to sell up before it all goes toxic.
Protests and a court case over 4 years to finally remove Oystens no one wants to demonise Smith and Jones and it takes a lot for good Norfolk folks to revolt but it could happen.
The Oystens were what they were and yes the Smith and Jones aren’t like them my comparison was the ru nine of the club only so again sorry to offend.
martin penney says
I agree with you that there was something exceptionally unsavoury about the Oystons and their lifestyle choices were/are a million miles from Delia Smith’s and indeed my own, but I feel Alex is correct to make the comparison on one level at least: that of sheer bl00dy pigheadedness.
Delia seems to feel she is untouchable and beyond reproach in all she says and all she does and I find her lifelong avoidance of the local press just as indicative of her character as her devotion to God and her lower-case ‘S’ socialism – neither of which I remotely object to btw 🙂
There’s no running away from it I’m afraid, she really does know best in her own eyes and seems reluctant to consider the views of those outside her circle.
You make a lot of assumptions about someone you don’t know. Why have you focused just on Delia? Because of her gender? What about MWJ’s role in this? Your comments here (and some of your columns) have a distinct edge of sexism to them and as a female reader I find it all too depressingly familiar.
martin penney says
It’s simple and absolutely zilch to do with gender.
Delia hogs the limelight in that self-demurring way of hers while M W-J takes a back seat so it is perfectly natural for me to focus on her.
Conversely it would seem that I focus on Stuart rather than Zoe Webber, which is because he is more of a focal point than her as far as the media that follow NCFC are concerned. I have met Delia and spoken with her for a short while a couple of times – long enough to form a general impression anyway.
As for my own columns I certainly don’t knowingly create a distinct edge of sexism in them although I do refer to my partner and our children in a jocular way on occasions if that’s what you’re hinting at.
Maybe I’m insensitive. Maybe you are seeing something that isn’t there, which I obviously believe to be the case but then again I would say that, wouldn’t I? 🙂
Thanks for reading me on occasions and if you think I’ve written something sexist in future please point it out to me in the comments section as that is not the sort of persona I wish to portray.
Despicable? What an over emotional use of language, (frequently utilised by those in the wrong to get their point across). “You need to think about your comparisons before making such ridiculous comments.”
Opinions are just that Opinions
The use of words and how people want to take how its framed is just another opinion
My comparison was taken out of context or sadly I didn’t explain my comparison clearly for others to understand.
Oysten around where I live in Blackpool is still seen as a sex offending pariah who spent time in prison.
Most forget he stopped the club going into bankruptcy, built a new stadium with help from Latvia and go them from league2 to the premiership setting a new record of the only club to win promotion fromevery league via the playoffs.
He tarnished all that by staying to long thinking he knew better and snubbing the supporters plus blaming them for the clubs down fall now that all sounds familiar
I will say one more time. Sorry if I offended anyone but Opinions are only that my opinion.
Mick Dennis says
For clarity: Owen Oynston served a prison term for rape.
That’s a bit more than ‘unsavoury’’.
He also paid himself huge sums from Blackpool’s revenue.
Delia and Michael have never taken a penny.
The comparison is odious and reprehensible.
Gary Gowers says
First of all, Alex apologised for any offence his intial comment may have caused, and, secondly, he was not referring specifically to the character of the Oystons – which is indeed reprehensible – but to the length of time they had been at the helm at Blackpool, which is, as I understand it, comparable to Michael and Delia’s.
OWEN oysten prison term show have ruled him out of every taking charge of the club again.
He isn’t of good character as you point out and his Wife and son Karl held the reigns for a long period.
Inmy original comment I said Oystens as a collective and never mentioned money.
I know the Smith and Jones would harm the club but my intentions was to assimilate them with time at the helm and the perceived notion that they know best as did the Oysten family.
I also said that I had made myself very clear in other comment which you seem to have ignored.
Opinions are just than an Opinions neither odious or reprehensible.
You may not agree with mine and I don’t agree with yours.
I try and see my own faults and at 72 I have many but accept others views.
Thanks for the reply
If Delia remains how does she hope to rebuild the team with a £50million deficit?
If next season starts as this one has ended I don’t think she’ll find a deal of joy in clinging on.
Yes football is a cycle and clubs have ups and downs but this notion that we wouldnt have a club for our nieces and nephews or sons and daughters to support without Delia and Michael blocking all interest from others is just nonsense. The club ain’t that friendly at the moment either.
You name me another club of our stature that no longer exists or isn’t actually now not that far below us? Yes many have had problems and issues but eventually they get rescued and catch us back up and many actually manage to win things when the going is good whereas we fail to even stay in the prem for more than a season.
Excellent point. They all exist, but we are constantly told ours wouldn’t without Delia. What a nonsensical stance these people hold.
Tim Ball says
There is a really great saying Gary, “There are none so blind that will not see”
And this applies to our present predicament I am afraid.
For many years on here I have at times praised Delia and Michael for what they have done for the club. I still believe when they took over at the end of the disastrous Chase regime when we were absolutely broke, that they did have the clubs best wishes at heart.
Ipswich Town have gone bankrupt twice in recent years and too Delia and Michael’s credit they didn’t want local businesses going short or even broke because of the club and that is why they were borrowing money from everywhere (even fans who were all paid back) .
But just like a fading movie star ala Norma Desmond everything that goes with being an owner of a football club can be very intoxicating, the fame, the socialising 🍷 and the kudos. And it can be extremely hard to let go.
Then add Delia’s hatred, and I think that word is apt, of the EPL and all its wealth I think that is were we are today. A complete refusal to see any other side of the argument, whereas many of us can Gary hence your reaction to your previous article that you highlight above.
It must be so hard to let go, when in your mind you are the only person that can do this. No one else is capable.
As for Stuart Webber? Personally I do not think Stuart can apologise, why? because he sees it all as someone else’s fault. The fans, the local media and perhaps even the kit man.
The churn over of staff at Carrow Road also worries me as it seems all is not well, there is the touch of the Raab about him with his obvious short fuse. So many key people have gone, is the working environment a good place to work at present. I think perhaps not.
I took me less than four hours to break my promise not to bang on about the powers that be at our beloved club😂
Oh well que sera, sera.
We’ve got to put right out mistakes. I don’t know who could do that and I worry that the future of the club could be put in the hands of someone more interested in making money. We’re terrible spenders so I don’t see money as the answer. How can we buy big money quality players when, if they were that good they’d go to a Premiership club.
It’s interesting to hear certain views from ex players who are around the various hospitality lounges on matchdays. It’s an unhappy club for certain, has been for some time. Organizations only rot from the top down of course, football is littered with failed regimes.
Supporting Wrexham next term
Colin; re your last comment…..Why not Kings Lynn??
I’m a National League South fan with St Albans City but you make a very good point and both could be in National League very soon. Love real football.
Just to mention, since no-one seems ready to challenge the view that Delia and Michael are “clinging on” to their majority ownership: they’ve instigated and authorised a new share issue that will end their majority shareholding.
Technicalities (not from the Norwich end, as I understand it) have held up the formal announcement of who’s buying the new shares; we assume it’s the Attanasios.
To repeat: Delia and Michael are voluntarily and deliberately relinquishing their majority ownership.
I’d be all behind your comment if it didn’t include the word “majority”.
People want a fresh start.
John Mitchell says
Absolutely right, too many people are talking as if Mark Attenasio were not on the brink of owning a controlling shareholding.
Delia and Michael indeed saved this club from disaster and in time will hopefully be remembered more fondly than the current atmosphere suggests.
Football has now moved to a crazy place where only multi-gadzillionaires need apply. And even though Delia and Michael spent all they could afford on us, deeper pockets are needed even to be “top 26”, let alone top 17. And yes, notwithstanding compliance with FFP.
I just hope the current toxicity doesn’t scare Mark Attenasio away. If he can be as effective and caring owner for us that he is for the Brewers, we should be the well-run community-centred club that we have been in the recent past.
I must disagree with you about Delia and MWJ saving the club from disaster
Geoffrey Watling purchased all the shares owned by Robert Chase a much maligned owner due to selling players of and in reality tried to make the club self funding but also gave the club great European memories.
Geoffrey Watling sold all his shares a few months later to Smith and Jones who then continued to sell players to survive.
Chase had also purchased parcels of land in and around the club for future development and funding for the which again came to the Smith’s rescue when sold to stave of bankruptcy that city have been close too on at least 2 reported occasions.
Knowing they couldn’t fund a football club and still hanging on is fool Hardy at the best and reckless at its worst so please inform us how they have saved our club in the last 26years
Inside Right says
The club is highly unorthodox in many respects.
1. Majority Shareholders who invest nothing in the club, therefore superfluous.
2. The Sporting Director and his wife – who also is a member of the board and a massive conflict of interest – run the day to day business of the club.
3. No Chairman.
4. No Chief Executive/CEO.
I’m in business and this is not a way to run a company, especially the size of Norwich City.
The club has always had this myth that it was and is run well. Many internally know that it is not and some of it would make a great, if tragic sit com. The club claims it is a ‘Community Club’ but very much on their terms and when it suits them.
Delia and Michael have had a very good run considering they were totally unsuitable – in my eyes – for being majority shareholders in the late 1990’s let alone modern day. Yet here they still are, but for how much longer?
The club is a clique and that is the most unappealing and unattractive way a club can be, with the added hostility of our Sporting Director who is only here because nobody else wants him. He is taking a very long time to quote his own words ‘passing through’.
They are a very hard club to support and things will probably have to get worse before they get any better. And that could be a very long time indeed.
Mic Corbs says
I started to worry about MFW a few years ago, after reading a string of unnecessary comments about Gary Lineker. Previously I had been quite a fan of the Forum. At that time, I knew nothing about his personal views, I just admired him as a fine England and Spurs player. It slowly dawned on me later why he was so disliked. Now he is a cultural icon and divides opinion nationally. Personally, I have really enjoyed his off the football contributions e.g his documentary about his military ancestors. Delia and Michael are of course reviled by some for the same reasons, from the same world view (ref Brexit etc). I listen and respect criticism of the club if its not based on this parochial prejudice, if it’s based on a real concern for our club. The truth is a vocal minority hate our custodians rather than loving the club. I ignore these voices as one ignores the pub bore.
My criticism is based on my passion for the club, and frustration at a downturn in the last two seasons. There is a lot to put right here, as there is at Spurs Leicester etc etc.
My view is overall definitive, D & M saved the club, and in recent years gave the club exactly what fans wanted to a substantial extent. I mean a tough young external C.E (all those moans about costa del Norwich). I mean an exciting young manager from abroad (all those moans about easy options). I mean a foreign investor with the right mindset (all those lies about not selling).
Inside Right says
Delia & Michael did not save the club. That is not a matter of opinion, that is a matter of fact. The nearest anybody has come to that is Geoffrey Watling.
Everyone at any business – and Norwich City is a business – has to be held accountable when things go wrong and that means Delia & Michael as they ultimately sanction all decisions.
Nobody is enjoying what is happening to the club, but the board cannot deflect criticism and must be held to account. The five year plan is in pieces and the club just has to admit it cannot continue with this deluded and naive self funding model as the club will not only be out of The Championship, but out of the Football League if this stubborn and antiquated view of football is persistent with.
Mikey B says
Amongst all the inevitable noise around at the moment there are some inescapable ‘facts’ to be considered in relation to our current plight. I’ve been a regular supporter and ticket holder since 1960 so I’ve seem both sides of fortune.
1) The self funding model doesn’t work. It never did. The owners only asked us to be proud of it because it was THEIR only option and fitted their socialist principals.
2) £8-12m does not buy you an oven-ready Premier League player. It buys you a football lottery ticket. Some you’ll win, most you’ll lose.
3) Getting promoted and still buying players for the Development Squad in the hope of cashing in in the future is madness in terms of survival.
4) Running a football club and board of directors without a Chairman to control the meetings and ask the awkward questions and take the difficult decisions is not commercially viable. Unless power is handed to just two individuals who run things as they see fit with no accountability of course. Bring back someone like Ed Balls who oversaw the original Farke revolution.
5) Each cycle of player sales and borrowing against future income will produce a lower income as the quality and number of players for sale decreases.
6) The American involvement is unlikely to produce the ‘Sugar Daddy’ effect achieved at other clubs as his style is quite different. Indications are that he is cooling his interest anyway and who can blame him.
7) When we enjoyed a few weeks riding the crest some years ago Delia gave a full and frank interview to her favourite newspaper, The Guardian. In it she committed to hand the club over to her hapless nephew who had even less football knowledge than she had and less financial awareness. That interview set the scene for all that was to follow and somehow she now needs to fulfil her promise.
Change needs to start at the top and filter down sweeping away anything and anyone who has built this house of straw.