Canaries legend Iwan Roberts on the day he faced up to angry Norwich City fans
14:44 05 December 2014
For probably the first time this season the Norwich City faithful turned on Neil and the players as well as the board of directors.
Nathan Redmond got involved in an exchange with fans, John Ruddy took to social media to say how disappointed he was with supporters’ reaction and there was a protest outside the directors’ entrance after the game.
In my seven years at the club I’ve witnessed these things more than once, and as a player it’s not nice when you’re taking a bit of stick for playing poorly, but you’ve got to get on with things and not let people beat you. It’s time for you to roll your sleeves up and show how strong a character you are. It’s the only way you can get through it.
I remember in my first season when I had a shocker I was walking out of the main entrance in the Barclay End with my son Ben, who was only six at the time. We’d lost another home game and once again I was dreadful. As Ben and I turned left down Carrow Road there were about 50 Canaries fans to greet us who had been venting their anger outside the main entrance to the City Stand.
I stopped for a minute and thought what was the best thing for me to do? Do I go back into the safety of the players’ bar or do I face the music? It would have been easy for me to hide away but instead I headed right towards them, knowing I was going to get slaughtered, and boy was I right. I’ve taken loads of abuse and stick in my 21 years of playing but that has to be worst I’ve ever had.
What made it harder for me was the fact that Ben was with me and had to witness it. I walked straight through them while they booed me, told me what they thought of me and told me in no certain terms where to go, and believe you me it wasn’t pleasant. It was such a relief to get to my car. As soon as we sat in the car Ben asked me why those men were shouting at me? I just said it’s what happens when you don’t play well and lose and we drove home.
Looking back, it was the best decision I made in my time at the club not to go back into the players’ bar. It made me so determined to prove people wrong, as I never wanted to go through something like that with my children again. My advice for players now is to not go on social media and get into arguments with supporters, as it never looks good on anybody.
Show the mental strength and character you have and once again prove to the few fans that doubt you that you are still a very good player.
I totally understand fans’ frustrations as they pay good money to watch football, and they reasonably expected that the team would be in a much better position going into December. But the players need you now more than ever. It’s at times like this when things aren’t going to plan that players need you to get fully behind them and show what fantastic fans you are.
• DEFENDING JUST WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH
Having won just one game in 10, losing three of their last four, you can understand the fans’ frustration with what’s happening at the football club.
It really isn’t good reading and no wonder there was a lack of Christmas cheer down at Carrow Road last Saturday.
For the second consecutive Saturday, supporters witnessed poor defending which gifted Reading three points, meaning that Norwich City had just the one point to show from two winnable home games. That, quite simply, isn’t good enough for a team which is meant to be one of the front-runners to win automatic promotion this season.
Reading’s goals were identical, and it doesn’t matter who your manager is if you defend like that you don’t deserve anything from the game. Should Michael Turner have been out-jumped by rookie defender Jake Cooper for the first? I’d expect better from such an experienced defender if I were honest. Should John Ruddy have come for that first corner and dealt with it himself? Possibly, but he decided to stay at home, unlike his decision for Reading’s second goal.
I’m not a goalkeeping coach, but I think John comes for that second corner to make up for not being decisive enough and taking the pressure off his defenders for the first goal. But once he decides to come he’s got to make sure he gets something on that ball. He was nowhere near it and it was the simplest of tasks for Cooper to nod in his second. Mind you, I’d have to ask the question where was the man that was supposed to be picking him up?