City fans second in league despite troubles

Norwich City, despite the current woes, is still the second-best supported team in the Championship. An average of 24,096 fans watch City play at home, beaten only by the 25,055 who watched Sheffield United play at Bramall Lane.

Norwich City, despite the current woes, is still the second-best supported team in the Championship.

An average of 24,096 fans watch City play at home, beaten only by the 25,055 who watched Sheffield United play at Bramall Lane.

More than 500 Canaries supporters made the long trek to Plymouth on Saturday where they made a pretty significant impact on a crowd of just over 11,000. Had City been doing better you feel that figure would have swelled by a few hundred, even though the round trip is nigh on 700 miles.

Support is clearly still there - but that doesn't mean to say they are happy.

The event of the past year and a bit have kept internet message boards buzzing - this season even more so.

Take, for example, the PinkUn message board: in September, when City were clearly beginning to show their true, fading, colours there were 615,000 page impressions; the following month it had increased to 1,152,000, helped no doubt by the sacking of Peter Grant and the consequent hunt for his replacement.

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The day that Glenn Roeder was appointed, October 30, the PinkUn site received 255,000 page impressions and November, to date, has seen 408,000.

It's clear proof of just how strongly Norwich City fans feel about all things Norwich City.

The weekend debacle in the south-west didn't make them feel any better either, with only the promise by Glenn Roeder that new players will be brought in appearing to be appease many.

What doesn't help is events down the road at Ipswich. For every goal Norwich were conceding at Plymouth, Ipswich were banging in two against Bristol City at Portman Road to move up to the sixth and final play-off position. And if that's not bad enough, they've got businessmen banging down their doors trying to invest in the club, clear the debts and make them a Premier League team. All while Norwich fans are crossing their fingers that they don't have to travel the length and breadth of League One England next season.

John Tilson, chairman of the Norwich City Supporters Association, doesn't mince his words when it comes to talking about his club.

“We own our own ground, which is a magnificent stadium; we own our training ground, which is 'Premier League' quality. The debt is a horrible debt but it is not as bad as half the clubs in this division. We are told it's under control, that it's manageable. So why are we so unattractive to investors? There are clubs who have the bank manager talking to them every day of the week, so why do people want to put their money there instead?

“Why do people want to go and chuck their money at Ipswich Town?

“We shouldn't be waiting for people to come to us, we should be going out there and getting them interested - is that being done?

“No one is asking Delia to leave the football club. What she has done has been marvellous. But it's gone stale and it needs refreshing. What we are asking is that she steps aside with dignity.”

Tilson's anger at City's situation isn't confined to the boardroom - the league table and City's position in it is the be all and end all for Canaries fans.

But did anyone ever envisage it would be as bad as this midway through November?

“I didn't,” he said. “Not for one moment, I don't think anyone did. Even the most pessimistic fans thought we might be lurking around mid-table. I don't think anyone thought we'd be five points adrift with three of the five clubs having a game in hand.”

And does he have faith in Glenn Roeder's ability to turn it around?

“With what he has got? No. I don't wish to be all doom and gloom, because it's breaking my heart what is going on, it really is. But the reality of it is, yes, we could go down. As the weeks go by it's getting worse and worse with no sign of a recovery.”

Ian Russell, chairman of Capital Canaries, is another who expected more. A lot, lot more.

“It's a bit surreal, to tell you the truth. It doesn't feel right - you have to prick yourself to see if it's all a bad dream. It's pretty depressing I guess.

“I thought this season we would finish mid-table and that would be fairly good and something to build on. I had no idea we would be where we are now.

“It needs a big turnaround and some new blood to get us out of this. I suppose you could say it's only November and Glenn Roeder at least has time. It's not as it it's late in the season, but he still needs to change a lot of things very quickly.”