THE PRICE WE PAY

03/01/20

Come rain or shine, Maddie MacKenzie is there, putting out and collecting flags. Last season we had the soaring highs. This season the crushing lows. As Maddie says; it's the price we pay for the connection we have

As Norwich fans, we’ve found ourselves in a strange and unenviable position. Our team is bottom of the Premier League – but it doesn’t feel like they deserve to be there.

For one thing, there’s been some truly outstanding individual performances. At the time of writing no English midfielder has scored more Premier League goals than Todd Cantwell this season (he’s one of our own, in case it hasn’t been said enough). Emi Buendía has created 62 chances and is rapidly catching the attention of the league’s big boys.

There are moments when the Farkeball of last season appears, and suddenly it’s sublime passes and flicks and tricks that make you think ‘how the hell did he manage to pull that off?’

Then there are the moments that leave you with your head in your hands.

The capitulation against Sheffield United.

Christoph Zimmermann, always the last man off the pitch, heading straight down the tunnel.

The loss to Wolves, which came in a game where we played some of our best football of the season.

Connor Wickham scoring his first Premier League goal since November 2016 to deny us our first three points at home since September.

But as fans, we’re not angry with the players or the coaching staff – which to outsiders looking in must seem a bit strange. Take Watford: four managers, including Hayden Mullins in a caretaker role, have graced the home dugout of Vicarage Road so far this season.

Everton, Arsenal, Spurs, and West Ham have also given the managers they started the season with the proverbial boot. Daniel Farke on the other hand doesn’t seem like he’s about to go anywhere. He’s not even backed by the bookies as the next Premier League manager to get the sack, an honour which goes to either Eddie Howe or Dean Smith.

The reality is the overwhelming feeling around Carrow Road isn’t one of anger (unless VAR is involved, but I’m trying to steer clear of that). It seems almost impossible to imagine looking down at the pitch and genuinely believing that these players don’t deserve to be playing for Norwich, or that Farke is no longer the right man for the job.

You’re unlikely to hear anyone say ‘he just doesn’t get what it means to wear the shirt,’ because we know they all do. We’ve watched this team rise up from being written off by their former clubs, by the media, by the fans, into deserved title winners. We’ve formed a bond with them.

That, of course, is what’s making this season so tough.

It would almost be easier if the players weren’t giving it everything. How simple it would be if we could point at the pitch and say ‘well, he clearly doesn’t fancy it.’ If we could claim ‘Farke’s lost the dressing room.’ If this team had never shown they were good enough to stay in the Premier League.

This is not a team full of new faces, untested at Carrow Road. Instead it’s the same familiar players who gave us so much joy, who provided us with moments we’ll never forget. It’s those dizzy highs that are making the current lows sting so much more. It is the relationship and the bond we’ve formed with this squad that makes seeing their heads drop at the end of another gutting result that much harder to take.

The same bond that makes every low point feel like a punch to the stomach also makes the high points that much sharper. Teemu Pukki’s hat-trick. Emi Buendía making a mockery of the Man City defence. Vrançic celebrating his long-awaited return to the starting eleven with a goal against the Champions League finalists. It is the fact that we’ve seen these players grow from relative unknowns that makes their triumphs that much sweeter.

This isn’t something we can take for granted.

Granit Xhaka, Arsenal’s captain, found himself being booed off the pitch in a draw against Crystal Palace, and turned to swear at the fans.

Manchester United fans seem to relish complaining that their players ‘will never understand what it means to play for United.’

Everton fans sung ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ to their own manager after losing against us in November.

At Carrow Road, this team are clapped off the pitch regardless of the result. The flags in the Barclay still fly. On The Ball, City, is still sung loud and proud.

There is little doubt that the lows of this campaign would not cut as deep if we didn’t care about the players or the manager. Seeing the looks of despair on their faces after a VAR decision (sorry), or a goal conceded, or a match lost would mean less.

It’s the price we pay for a connection that is so unique in English football. Maybe it would be easier if we could all leave the ground complaining that our players don’t care, our manager hasn’t got a clue, our owners aren’t interested. But they do, he does, and they are.

We’re lucky to have this team and this manager, to appreciate them before they move on to bigger and better things. One day the individuals who have given so much to this club will be gone, and we’ll be left with the memories they’ll leave behind for us.

Yes, it’s difficult to see our team rock bottom of the league when we know they shouldn’t be. It’s not easy to feel the pain of defeat, but under the circumstances if we didn’t feel the lows so keenly, the highs wouldn’t mean so much.

All football fans want to believe they can influence the result of a match. Wearing lucky socks or walking a certain way to the ground isn’t going to do it. For now, all we can do is back our team until the very end, and hope that they start getting the results we know they deserve.

Comments

  1. Richdik says:

    We love supporting Nodge. We have some very good players, but the board are to blame for not supporting the manager. That’s why we don’t blame him or the players. They needed a few extra experienced players from the outset and this season would of been completely different. Using the prem as solely a debt repayment scheme everytime is a farce.

    1. Keith Bradley says:

      Very eloquently put.

    2. David Easton says:

      100% correct

  2. Timbo says:

    But unless Delia and Michael sell out to someone with billions behind them (which I hope they don’t) it will always be like this.

    We are a self-funding club.

    That is the stark reality that as Nodge supporters we sign up to.

    FWIW I think the vast majority understand that reality and back the players, the management and the board.

    The season is not over yet. But if we do go down it will be with heads held high.

    1. Alan Mitchell says:

      When did we sign up to this reality?

      It feels to me we were never given the choice.

      I’d like Delia and Michael to give someone else a go now, they can’t afford to own a club, and making fans pay for it all is not sustainable nor fair.

  3. Nick Newton says:

    I think article is spot on.
    Watched my first game in 1956 and have been through it all but wouldn’t change anything.
    You guys calling for spending on “more experienced players” are just as dedicated as me but don’t seem to grasp the essence of what we are and how we have achieved it. I would rather be relegated than go bust – watch Villa. Had a friend who was a Man City fan. I pitied him when their billionaire owner started buying rather than earning success.
    Always tell my sons supporting City is 10 years of misery one year of joy. They reckon I won’t survive for the next 2018/19 but I wouldn’t change it for any other clubs fans experience.
    Still intend going to every home match until they won’t carry me in any longer
    Nick Newton OTBC.

Nick Hayhoe on that thing that's ruining football for us all. No not the football, or the results. That stupid, joy (and despair) sapping other thing.

At Along Come Norwich we're big fans of our owners and not impressed or excited by money. Not all Norwich fans are like us though and we get the occasional anti-Delia piece sent to us. So, as if we're the BBC and compelled to show every side, here is a for and against from Jon Punt and Ian Woodcroft