Divided support is not helping City’s Premier League struggle
09:33 05 January 2014
The advent of the new year is traditionally accompanied by all sorts of resolutions and fresh starts.
Standing soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone at Selhurst Park on Wednesday I found myself fervently hoping that 2014 might see the divisions within the fanbase healed, without any real belief that they will be.
While differences of opinion are healthy it seems everyone is now expected to nail their colours to the mast as a Hughton Inner or a Hughton Outer.
In fact, I still believe that the vast majority of us continue to take things game by game and try to keep an open mind, but simply being a Norwich City fan doesn’t seem to be an available option any more.
When positions become as entrenched as they now are the mentality of “if you’re not with us you must be against us” sets in, to the detriment of all.
We’ve already had reports of fans coming to blows in the Barclay and an increasing amount of vitriol and invective directed against the manager and anyone who dares to argue an alternative case. Neither side can claim the moral high ground in this situation, but things are getting out of hand.
This is particularly noticeable at home matches. First of all we had the pantomime of treating any appearance by Luciano Becchio like the second coming of Christ as a means of cocking a snook at Chris Hughton.
However, that was the tip of the iceberg and now an increasing number of substitutions seem to result in a chorus of boos which clearly do nothing to help the mindset of the players. It’s poisonous and potentially very destructive. With tension that could be cut with a knife it can’t be much fun playing at Carrow Road at present.
On the other side of the coin, no one could justifiably argue that City have performed as well as many of us expected, and the Christmas period has been particularly unfruitful.
We would all love City to be sitting comfortably clear of the drop zone but the reality is that they’re not, despite chances to increase the gap.
My personal view is that (with the exception of the Fulham game) the team is starting to play with greater purpose and creativity despite the constant injuries, but I fully accept that there will be many who would argue the opposite.
However, one fact is inarguable. That is that we have no idea what happens at training or what instructions are given to the players before games. We don’t know what input the coaches have or what the players really feel about the manager.
Given that, I’m happy to let the board and the chief executive get on with running the club. If they feel that change is necessary they will make it; if they don’t, they won’t, and I’ll accept either choice. In 40-odd years of supporting City there have been managers I’ve loved and managers I’ve loathed, but I’ve always put my views on them to one side while a game was going on.
While we haven’t yet reached the levels of uncontrolled animosity that marked the end of Nigel Worthington’s tenure there are worrying signs that we’re heading that way, and that is doing nothing to help the players on the pitch.
I’m not expecting or asking people to change their views on Hughton, but regardless of where we stand on this issue, surely we can all agree to disagree for 90 minutes on a matchday?
Football, like so much in life, is all about opinions, but one thing is certain; further divisions amongst the fans will only increase the chances of relegation, not reduce them. If it happens there will be no winners.