It’s time to trust David McNally and Co to act when action is needed on future of manager
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Here we are again in the midst of yet another break in the domestic football calendar caused by too many pointless international friendlies.
Am I alone in being frustrated by the stop-start nature of the Premier League's opening rounds of matches? That said, as a columnist, it's always provides a good opportunity to step back and take a more reasoned approach to how the club is faring.
I put the emphasis on the word 'reasoned', because in these last few topsy-turvy weeks of following Norwich City I've had the distinct impression some of the opinions spouted by fans on the many platforms to get their views heard have barely been based on reason.
It seems to be a factor of the modern world that every single manager is only ever as good as their last game.
Take David Moyes for instance. A few weeks ago he wasn't fit to lace Sir Alex Ferguson's shoes – a win against Arsenal and suddenly he masterminded the whole thing and has his players performing at fitness levels like never before.
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Closer to home our own Chris Hughton is manager of a Canaries squad that is striding forward one week, dead certs for relegation the next.
This incessant demand from fans for instant gratification and lack of patience in the face of defeat was a subject eloquently covered by Gary Neville in a newspaper column last week.
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To paraphrase, he described how the number of top-flight fans who are under 16 has fallen from 22 per cent to nine per cent since 1983. The average age of an adult Premier League fan is currently 41.
He puts this down to increased ticket prices and believes we are now in an era where we no longer have 'supporters' inside grounds, but 'consumers'.
And people who consume, demand to be pleased.
Neville adds: 'It's not exclusively a results business any more — it's an entertainment business, too. Your average diehard fan now wants goals, entertainment, high-energy action and incidents to lift them.
'People paying £70 for a ticket will demand more for their money.'
He goes on to speak of his fears that a generation are being priced out of the game and that this could have a devastating impact on the sport in the long-term.
He's got a point, but I'm not sure that's the only reason pressure is placed on managers so freely now. Some of it can be perceived pressure. The rise of social media means that after a game, thousands of supporters give their views.
In that raw moment of defeat do they always mean what they say or are they simply venting their spleen?
In the 1970s we used to hear the cliché of supporters going home to kick the dog. Now they type.
And I can't ignore the part media can play in this.
With so much popularity for the sport, more words are written and spoken than ever before. Has that created a culture of looking for problems when they aren't always there?
If you are chief-executive David McNally and his board, it must make it hard to step back and take a reasoned view on the progress of the club.
This is especially true when you might have thousands of your Twitter followers pleading with you to do one thing, which thousands more don't want to happen but haven't felt the need to express.
That's why we must trust them to do their jobs. Chief-executive David McNally has earned the right over the last few years to be trusted to be savage when there's a need to be savage and patient when there's a need to be patient.
I'll admit myself that it's hard not to get carried away when the mood turns ugly. At 6.15pm on Saturday I was sure Chris Hughton would be on his way. An hour later the world seemed pretty rosy again.
But I don't want to follow a club in the atmosphere where the manager is only regarded to be as good as his last result, yet at times that's how it feels at Carrow Road.
And when you look at the cold hard facts it's not that grim is it?
Eleven games, 11 points – we're in exactly the same position as last season, when we finished 11th.
Looking at the Premier League table I'd be much more worried about future prospects were I a fan of Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Stoke, Fulham, Cardiff and in particular West Ham.
The Hammers are below Norwich but have played just two of their games against either Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool – whom I'd regard as the big six. For Norwich this figure is four.
I certainly don't believe Norwich are a team on their way down to the Championship.
I also don't believe this is a team that has turned on its manager – as others have speculated.
What I do believe, however, is that if Hughton isn't the right man to take us forward McNally and his board can be trusted to take action to put that right.
City players show they have a heart
1: Well done to John Ruddy, Elliott Bennett and Steve Whittaker – who have proven you don't have to be aloof and out of touch to be a modern day footballer. I was at the Norfolk Sports Awards where Ruddy gave up his time to attend; Whittaker has shown a real human touch to help the family of a boy who died from cancer, while Bennett is helping a young lad with an injury and this week used Twitter to raise funds for charity.
Former manager has some troubles
2: I don't like to ponder for long on a certain Paul Lambert but what has happened to the open and attractive style of play he so mastered at Carrow Road? I've noticed several grumblings from Aston Villa fans about his style of play this season, have read at least a couple of articles debating whether they are the 'new Stoke' and Lambert himself had to go on the defensive recently after being labelled a long-ball merchant by Jose Mourinho. The grass isn't always greener.
More work to be done on racism
3: Thanks to those who responded to my previous column on the subject of racism within football grounds. It would appear lots of people have been through a similar experience of hearing something said in the stands which they know is not right, but not speaking up, for whatever reason. As sad, however, was several who said they spoke up, flagged the issue to police or a steward and little was done. We all have a duty to do more to tackle this issue.
Let's give referees some more slack
4: My praise for Mike Jones and his 'common sense' approach to the Leroy Fer goal that wasn't didn't receive the same positive reaction. Norfolk ref Derek Richardson took great umbrage at his actions, claiming he had no right to 'bend the rules' as he pleases. I still think we can't have it both ways; we either trust referees to deal with unique situations how they feel best, or demand them to be robots who see everything in black and white.