Let’s see Brown play before we judge him

Sorry to get all heavy on you this week, but the issue of 'citizen journalism' has popped back on to the radar over the past few days.

Sorry to get all heavy on you this week, but the issue of 'citizen journalism' has popped back on to the radar over the past few days.

Whether citizen journalism is a good thing or not has been discussed elsewhere and at great length, but I can't see any way of halting its progress. And - perhaps more importantly - I'm not sure that we should be TRYING to stop it, anyway.

For the benefit of the two of you who haven't already been bored to death over this subject, citizen journalism (at least as far as football is concerned) is a sort of catch-all phrase that encompasses internet message-board postings by 'amateur' writers - ie, fans - and people who don't fit the bill of being professional, full-time journalists.

I suppose that I'm a kind of citizen journalist when I write this column because although my day job is being a 'proper' journalist, I am not a sports reporter and I don't pretend to have the insight into the daily goings-on at Colney and Carrow Road that my sports desk colleagues do.

When I write this column, I'm subjective and I spout opinions that many of you may consider unfair and unbalanced. And my view is of no greater consequence than the views of those of you who write letters to the papers or post your opinions on the internet. The only difference between me and you is that I have somehow managed to convince my editor to let me post my ramblings here once a week.

But although I'm well aware of the potential danger that citizen journalism poses to professional journalists, that is no reason to stop people from having their say.

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Technology moves on, and life is full of examples where 'progress' for the many has resulted in pain for the few.

As a business journalist, I come across tales of woe on a daily basis. People's livelihoods are often at risk, and that is obviously no small matter.

But should we abolish cash machines in order to protect the jobs of high-street bank cashiers? Should we abolish cars in order to protect blacksmiths? And we should abolish message boards in order to protect journalists? No, of course we shouldn't.

And I'm a great believer in letting the fans have their say.

Notwithstanding the fact that Andrew Cullen and the board have done a great job in keeping ticket prices relatively low compared with many other clubs, we still pay handsomely to watch our team. And that gives us the right to criticise what our club and our team does (even though such criticism is often regarded as being deliberately obstructive by some people at Carrow Road).

Internet message boards are not always populated purely with bona-fide supporters who put their money where their mouths are, but on the whole the internet is the vehicle of choice for many people who have every right to express their honestly-held views.So why am I banging on about this citizen journalism thing if I think it's all so wonderful? Because I think it's gone a bit too far on this occasion.

Chris Brown has just signed for us from Sunderland and he could make his debut today in an extremely-winnable game against Plymouth.

We haven't yet seen the wisdom or otherwise of Peter Grant's dealings in the transfer market - the luckless Luke Chadwick has played less than one game for us - and he might have the Midas touch when it comes to spotting untapped talent.

What's more, we've been crying out for some new blood to give this sorry season the kick-start it so badly needs.

And yet Brown has been lambasted all over the message boards before he's even kicked a ball for us. He may turn out to be a bad signing - goodness knows we've had enough of those in the past few years - but equally he may turn out to be just what we need.So let's give him a chance, shall we?

We all have the right to express our opinions, whether that is on the terraces, via the internet or in newspaper columns.

But if we all start off with the default opinion that our new signing is rubbish, the chances are that he will prove to be rubbish.

And if that happens, who suffers? We do!


Last weekend's performance and result at Tamworth deserves a lot of credit.

I am not speaking purely with the benefit of hindsight when I say that I expected us to win comfortably - I thought we'd get through without too many problems.

And on the face of it, beating a team struggling in the Conference by three goals (even away from home) is not really something we should crow about.

But the fact is that many teams have come a cropper in these sorts of matches - and our own record in cup competitions in recent years has been about as distinguished as Eddie the Eagle's Olympic career. So let's not underplay our achievements in getting this far.

It was a thoroughly professional performance, and although Tamworth came at us with everything bar the kitchen sink for the first 15 minutes or so (as expected), we weathered the storm and our class ultimately shone through.

Although I thought it was a little harsh for Peter Grant to haul off Lee Croft for doing a fancy back-heel, at least we now have a manager who takes this kind of thing seriously and - even when we're winning 4-0 - wants his players to stay focused to the last.

On Monday this week, a fellow EDP columnist correctly predicted that we'd draw Blackpool away in the fourth round (although, to be fair, he did Gedge his bets by opting for Bristol Rovers, too).

But let me make a prediction of my own: Grant's team will safely navigate their way into the last 16.

If we'd drawn Blackpool at home, I wouldn't be so confident. There would be the danger of complacency. Similarly, if we'd drawn Barnet away there would be the risk of over-confidence.

I see Blackpool as being another Tamworth, and just wait to see all the pundits predict an upset at Bloomfield Road.

It'll certainly be a tricky tie because Blackpool are riding high in League One, but the national focus on the match as a possible banana skin for Norwich should mean that our players will be well aware of the pressure that is on them.

And if they put in as professional a performance as they did against Tamworth, then we can all look forward to the fifth round.