Not every dire Norwich City away day can come with promise of a refund
06:30 12 November 2014
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If there’s one criticism that cannot be levelled at Norwich City so far this season it is that they lack creativity.
Hot chocolate wasn’t worth all the hassle
The worst moment at Middlesbrough was when the floodgates opened.
This isn’t going to be another rant about the generous nature of Norwich City’s defending that night, that’s all been said. My own personal battle to stem the Teesside tide occurred after the game in the Press Room.
It was a cold night so I decided a post-match hot chocolate might lift the mood a little.
I confidently prodded at the button marked ‘hot water’ on the coffee machine and let out a little sigh of anticipation as I watched the boiling liquid splash all over the dark brown instant granules in the bottom of the cup.
It had that lovely reassuring steam puffing out and I could almost taste the warming cup of chocolaty escapism as the water reached the top of the cup. Only, it didn’t stop.
The hot water just kept coming and coming and, as it dribbled out of the top, it began to turn the tablecloth an unattractive brown colour.
The machine then started beeping frantically and I felt as panicky as a Norwich City central defender attempting to deal with Middlesbrough’s strike force that night.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, there was an audible cough at the front of the room. While I had been drizzling hot water into a cup and onto a table cloth I had failed to notice that Middlesbrough’s manager Aitor Karanka had taken his seat, ready for his press conference.
He felt he couldn’t start until someone had shut up the annoying bleep, by which I mean the coffee machine, not me.
As a fully signed up la-dee-dah media type, I don’t really know how to handle faulty machinery. So I was grateful to the gruff northerner who muttered something which I didn’t quite catch but I have a feeling might have been about me as he reached round the back of this blasted boiler and unplugged it. The bleeping and the drizzling both stopped immediately.
The drink wasn’t even for me. I was trying to do a good deed for my Canary Call hosting colleagues who were sat out in the cold still chewing on that 4-0 defeat.
Still, at least one person managed to inconvenience the Middlesbrough manager that night, if only for a minute.
During the past week the Canaries have managed to come up with two very different ways of losing Championship football matches but both defeats left the travelling fans dumbfounded and heartbroken.
The 4-0 loss at Middlesbrough last Tuesday night was an outright humbling. On a chilly, chastening Teesside night Norwich never really looked like getting into the game. Whereas at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, with five minutes to go they were 1-0 up and on course for a much-needed win just as long as they didn’t do anything silly. They did do something silly – twice. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. Two very different games but equally gut-wrenching for City.
The midweek mess at Middlesbrough had some supporters wondering about the possibility of a Riverside refund. The suggestion was understandable given that more than 500 fans gave up the time and spent the money to make one of the longest trips of the season on a Tuesday night. Seeing your team lose, however badly, doesn’t automatically justify a refund.
Yes, you’re right, that is very easy for me to say considering I’m lucky enough to get paid for watching Norwich City lose 4-0 at Middlesbrough, so I’d better explain myself to avoid any awkwardness the next time I bump into a battalion of the yellow and green army at a motorway service station.
Going miles and miles and then seeing your team lose heavily is all part of the fabric that makes up the resolve of a football fan. Being awful away from home is a long standing Norwich City tradition. Virtually every Canaries season, no matter how ultimately successful, will include an away battering.
In 1992/93 City managed to finish third in the Premier League with a goal difference of -4. The night we went to Middlesbrough and lost 4-0 hurts now, but will become a badge of honour and a much told story for any of those hardy, committed souls who were there. If only buying a ticket for a football match guaranteed a good performance and a win, Norfolk’s collective blood pressure would be much lower.
None of that can or should disguise the bitter disappointment of seeing Norwich City languishing in 10th place in the Championship. Perhaps ‘languishing’ isn’t the right word because, if I’m really honest, I expected to see Norwich in about this position in mid-November. But by now I was hoping they’d be on the way up.
I had resigned myself to a tough old autumn given all the upheaval that follows relegation. Having seen previous City sides struggle to come to terms with life outside the top flight it seemed wise to brace for the sort of start to the campaign that Fulham and Cardiff, our relegation relatives, have endured.
In my grand plan, as the nights draw in, Norwich are supposed to be finding their feet and looking upwardly mobile. Tenth is ok if you’re on your way up the division but City’s mid-table momentum is alarmingly downwards.
They’d started so promisingly. Four second-half goals at Cardiff, a swashbuckling 3-1 home win over Blackburn and a commanding 3-0 victory at a spirited Brentford seemed to bode well for the winter and underlined the potential of Neil Adams’ squad.
I suppose if these players could turn it on like that every week they probably wouldn’t be playing for Norwich City. Nothing says ‘The Championship’ like a bunch of inconsistent performers from whom managers and fans are never quite sure what’s going to be delivered.
Considering that Neil Adams and several of his players openly stated in the first couple of months of the season that an average return of two points per game was the target for this season, 10th is not good enough. By their own yardstick they should be on 34 points, not 26 at the moment.
They really need to focus those creative juices on recapturing that early season form rather than finding new ways of throwing points away.