I write this to you as our joint majority shareholder in the hope that I can give you some perspective from the point of view of the “whingers and boo-boys”.
I do not doubt that since Norwich City first appeared on your radar you have endeavored to learn as much as you can about this club and the way English football works.
However, following on from the AGM I’m concerned that you may be getting a false impression of the fanbase and their concerns.
Delia and Michael have saved our club on more than one occasion, and this will never be forgotten. Like us, they care very deeply. And the vast majority of the fanbase would like nothing more than for them to enjoy a well-earned retirement and have a peaceful and celebratory handing over of control to you.
However, in the past few years, they have become increasingly insular. In lockstep with Stuart Webber they have minimised their engagement with the media and fans, and the previous mantra of “ignore the noise” has seemingly extended to ignoring anything they don’t like, regardless of how true or relevant.
While I do not doubt that Delia will still speak to fans, I would question whether these are a full spectrum of the fanbase, or groups of people she knows will reinforce her own opinions. The conversations in the stands from the majority attending a game will be, I would suggest, a lot different to those more affluent attendees in the various lounges around Carrow Road after a game with a glass of Pinot and a wish to not upset their genial hosts.
While I’m sure you’ve been brought into many of these settings as part of your introduction to our club, I would urge you to look outside of that echo chamber and cast a wider net when you’re looking to gauge how our club is performing.
While Delia may believe that 20 percent of our fans just want to whinge and complain and the other 80 percent are fully on board, this isn’t reflective of reality.
Our fans follow a club that charges the highest season ticket price in the Championship and go to away matches that, because of the distance we are from anywhere else, cost more in travel than virtually any other team too. One in every five of those fans isn’t paying that money in a time of great financial difficulty just to get some cheap thrill from complaining about an organisation they’re not invested in. They do it because they desperately want to see this team play and do well.
So please don’t dismiss our fans as she has.
When fans boo, chant negatively, or ask for heads to roll, it’s not because they’re naturally negative people looking to cause trouble. It’s because they’re concerned, they want to see a solution to a problem with their club, and their opinion as to how that problem should be solved has not been shared by the manager, or the board, who have gone a different way, and subsequently been found wanting.
Joining together in a chant with other fans gives you a collective voice. A chance to have your opinion heard by those who may otherwise refuse to listen. (However limited this may be by fitting your particular take to the lyric meter of Sloop John B.)
And there are a lot of reasons to complain. There are many things our club does that no other club of similar stature would do.
We are known for being loyal to managers and giving them time, even when things aren’t going well. Loyal to a fault. Loyal sometimes to the detriment of the club. And the fans will buy into that loyalty if they can see the direction of travel is positive.
In Daniel Farke’s first season, we finished 14th, and at that point the fans were on board because we could see a plan. Even when we sold our best player in James Maddison, he left with an understanding from the fans that it was necessary financially to keep Farke and Webber’s project moving forward.
Give us a plan that we can believe in and we’ll all follow. We know how powerful it can be when the club, the players, the fans, and the media are all on the same page.
But belief has to be earned. It can’t be demanded as a virtue in (and of) itself. This is a football club and not a religion.
We can’t will David Wagner into being a successful manager just because he’s a nice guy. Rewarding previous good performance with loyalty is one thing, but barring a handful of good results at the start of the season, we’ve been a car crash, this season and last, and Wagner’s one tactic has been figured out and its weaknesses exploited by every halfway decent coach and team in this league.
Yet still we continue. Exhaustingly.
And there’s so much more. Allowing Stuart Webber to spend the summer signing players in their 30s only to now state in November that this is a problem and we have to make the squad younger in January is insane by any metric.
Then there’s not having a starting defensive midfield option in the squad, which is another thing no other team in the league is without.
It’s like putting your golf clubs in your bag and not taking a wood, and then wondering why your tee shots are so much shorter than everyone else’s.
Or assembling a baseball team without a catcher.
Or in our terms, it’s why our centre-backs look hopelessly exposed as the opposition runs right through the middle of us every game.
It’s crazy. And it means that it’s a problem for any manager who follows Wagner too.
I could go on, but I won’t.
Suffice to say we’re making repeated errors off and on the pitch. And most fans won’t mindlessly clap and back a club or team that continues down that path. They will tell you where you’re going wrong. And it doesn’t mean we don’t care. It’s a sign that we do.
We want our club to thrive as much as you, Delia, or Michael. And we want to work together. But we can’t believe in a manager who is losing game after game and not changing what he’s doing, or an off-field structure that is setting us up to fail.
Please give us a fresh start and something we can all believe in and get behind together.
A member of the ‘noisy 20 percent’.