Chris Goreham: Why it's best to wait before airing an opinion on Norwich City's new boys...
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Football is all about opinions, or at least that's what we are told, and it has never been easier to broadcast your own.
Radio phone-ins rely on the premise every week and many threads on social media start with an honest opinion being posted before degenerating into exchanges of spiteful put downs when anyone decides to reply with a different point of view. Another old adage that usually rings true in the Twitterverse is that empty vessels make the most noise.
The past week has been a real test for Norwich City supporters.
Never is a snap opinion needed more quickly than when a club makes a new signing.
Players can be written off as a complete waste of money or hailed as the missing piece of a jigsaw without kicking a ball for their new club but what about if you have never seen them play?
Step forward Onel Hernandez, Dennis Srbeny and Moritz Leitner, the three amigos who arrived in Norfolk from German clubs just in time to be part of the squad for the superb win over Brentford at the weekend.
It’s impossible for most of us to pass judgement on whether these are sound investments or not because we simply don’t know.
I realise that a shrug of the shoulders doesn’t work particularly well on the radio or generate a stack of online ‘Likes’ but that’s the way it is with these new Canaries.
I probably shouldn’t admit it given that one of the basic requirements of my job is a grasp of what’s happening in the world of football but it’s not the first time a gap in my knowledge has been exposed by Norwich City.
I still remember the feeling of panic on that morning three years ago when a chap called Alex Neil suddenly raced to the top of the betting to be City’s new manager.
He may have been doing a great job just over the border in Scotland but the insular nature of coverage in this country meant that his Hamilton success story had pretty much passed me by. That bolt from the blue worked pretty well for Norwich, at least in the short term.
It’s clear from the first two transfer windows of the Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke regime that keeping half an eye on the four divisions of English football isn’t going to be enough.
The Canaries’ continental keep net looks set to be used to capture more potential hidden gems like Mario Vrancic, Christoph Zimmermann and the latest new recruits. I should have paid more attention in those German lessons at school.
The good thing about not rushing to express an opinion is that you can’t be proved wrong at a later date.
All of us have waxed lyrical about new players only to see them fail to cash the cheques that their reputations have written once they actually play in yellow and green.
So I’m determined to keep my powder dry on Hernandez, Srbeny and Leitner and just enjoy the intrigue that always comes with a new signing. After all, I’m glad that none of those were around to pass judgement on my first few radio commentaries.
I reckon we should give them a chance to settle in to a new country, new surroundings and find their rhythm. Hang on, I think that might be an opinion.
As that wise old sage that is Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy likes to say ‘Opinions are like backsides. We’ve all got them but that doesn’t mean they need to be aired in public’.
East Five 4 Forfar...
I missed Norwich City’s win at Brentford. If I was a promising young footballer there would be all sorts of conspiracy theories about me missing the final match in January but I am not and there isn’t.
Thankfully at BBC Radio Norfolk we have an academy system that means the excellent Phil Daley, our own version of Jamal Lewis if you like, can take the microphone whenever I feel like being rotated out of the squad for a match.
While hanging on his every word and enjoying the always sweet sound of Norwich City winning away from home I was also keeping an eye on the other scores as they came in. The match that really caught my imagination was the one in Scottish League One between East Fife and Forfar.
Fans of the Two Ronnies know what’s coming but I wondered if this might be the day that the mythical tongue twister created in a sketch actually happened. Sadly not, Forfar struck with 13 minutes to go to win the match 2-1 and, while that’s a fine result for them, it doesn’t quite have the same joy as ‘East Fife 4, Forfar 5’ would have done.
Given that Scottish clubs play each other four times when they are in the same division I wondered whether such a result had ever actually occurred. Pleasingly, in January 1964 Forfar did edge a nine-goal thriller against East Fife at home.
In the summer of 2014 I covered the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It meant an enjoyable Saturday afternoon covering the hockey in late July while sitting next to a man called Richard Gordon, who was presenting the afternoon sport show on BBC Radio Scotland.
We were getting on well until I overheard him running through the afternoon’s scores from the wonderfully named Petrofac Trophy, a cup competition for lower division sides, which was already under way for the season. You can guess what one of the fixtures was that day. East Fife were 2-1 winners over Forfar.
During his next break I chirped up about it being a shame that it hadn’t ended 5-4. On reflection it was the Scottish radio version of saying “I don’t believe it” to Richard Wilson or “I want that one” to Little Britain’s Matt Lucas. I think he might have heard that one before.
The good news is that we still have another chance this season. The two sides are due to meet again in March.