A TNC RUSS RALLYING CRY

13/07/17

Club captain Russ Martin recently spoke to our friends over at Talk Norwich City. Jon Punt reviews the interview and gives his thoughts on the skipper's role moving forward, and the club's new approach to communication.

Rewind 12 months. Norwich City made a bad decision in appointing Jez Moxey, the rest is history, but it's worth reflecting on the way in which the club communicated with its fans during his tenure.

Staged in-house interviews, an admirable yet blinkered loyalty towards a manager and most of all, an environment where transparency was perceived to be in fairly short supply.

As fans, what we have experienced recently is almost unrecognisable in comparison. Webber's thickly bristled broom of change and Steve Stone's affable, friendly favourite uncle type demeanour have started to repair old wounds. The Yellow Army is beginning to come together once more.

Honesty is the order of the day. Webber has been keen to foster better working relationships with local media outlets, he was even good enough to give frank and forthright interviews to both ourselves at AlongComeNorwich and our colleagues over at MyFootballWriter. It was an unorthodox move, yet his candour and common sense approach won many over instantly.

Since that time the club have gone on to sell arguably their best player for a fee less than that received for Lewis Grabban, while also releasing a goalkeeper on a free transfer who was once deemed worthy of a full international cap with England. An outsider looking in could be forgiven for thinking things are about to go south fairly soon.

However, communication of the vision has been key. The fact the majority of the fanbase have stayed onside among all this turbulence is testament to the PR machine at the Carra.
Consultation with fans is now recognised as a crucial ingredient, demonstrated recently when individual fans and supporter groups sat down with the club to talk about how to ramp up the atmospherics. Watch this space on that one.

And in case you missed it (although with Jack's full on and savvy social media campaign I doubt you have) Club Captain Russell Martin has just given an accomplished and refreshingly human interview to a fan channel, our friends over at Talk Norwich City.

What other league club is taking such an approach and opening its doors and assets to fans? Norwich are ripping up the conventional rule book and shoving it down Jez Moxey's old-school, perma-tanned wrinkled neck. Well played Jack and Chris. Well played Russ. Well played Joe Ferrari. Well played Norwich.

When Martin put pen to paper on a new deal extending his stay until 2019, I dabbled with the idea of writing about how his signature could be City's most important signing of the summer. I bottled it, for fear of haterz giving me the ultimate hate, or just because I have two small children and a feisty wife to take up a large portion of my time. I'll let you decide which one of those reasons is true. (Trick question, they all are).

The thing is, Russ' interview just reaffirmed my view. In a period of flux and potential instability, some level of constant is a prerequisite. Martin appears to act as a perfect conduit between the playing staff and management team in an understated and capable manner. In a new and excitingera when harmony and communication is of paramount importance, Martin should be our go-to guy. He many not play every week, but my bet is he'll be around the starting eleven more often than not, and he'll always leave everything he has out on the pitch.

He alludes to this in his chat with Jack and Chris. The sense is it's something Webber has recognised too, and is altogether sensible in giving us the best chance of coming through the next few months with a chance of the top six or beyond.

It's also clear last season's sporadic yet understandable levels of support from the terraces transmitted to the players. As much as these vastly paid stars should be able to block it from their minds, Martin was keen to stress we as fans do have an effect. We can make a difference.

"I look at a game - Derby a few years ago - that's the best atmosphere I've ever played in at Carrow Road, it was amazing. At 2-2 nothing's really going to happen, but the atmosphere was unbelievable. It can work the other way as well - you go 1-0 down and the place starts going a bit apprehensive and tense.
We're going to be playing a different style of football this year that's for sure. People are going to have to be patient, it might take a little bit of time.

Marley Watkins asked me the other day in the ice bath 'What are the fans like here?' I just said 'If the place is rocking it's one of the best places to play'

From speaking to players who've come and played here they don't enjoy it. It's a partisan crowd and the club's a massive part of the community - that's how it should be"

You heard the skipper. You can make a difference in the stands "if" you're rocking. If. Be patient, listen to the club's message because their stance has changed. This is no longer a closed shop. You can have your say, you can help the players, and together we're all better off. OTBC.


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