Robin Sainty: The current situation at Norwich City is toxic
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Over the years I’ve gone through nearly every emotion watching Norwich City, but last Sunday I experienced a new one - utter disinterest.
As City meekly submitted to a West Ham side that barely had to get out of first gear, I found myself constantly checking the clock, not because I thought City had the means or spirit to produce any sort of fightback, but because I felt totally disengaged and was thinking about all the other things I could have been doing.
I suspect that I wasn’t alone given the exodus well before the final whistle, and therein lies the challenge for everyone at the club going forward.
As Chris Sutton correctly said in his column earlier this week, it would be unrealistic to expect anything much better from the remaining games as Wednesday evening’s routine surrender after a decent first half demonstrated, and the sooner the season is over the better so that the inarguable problems can start to be addressed.
The current situation is toxic and can only become more so, and while peaceful protests are perfectly acceptable, abusing players and attempting to follow them home, as was the case with Brandon Williams last Sunday, is way beyond the pale and shames those involved.
Williams may be very much a work in progress, which is why he is on loan from Manchester United in the first place, and has some technical weaknesses, not least his tendency to misjudge the flight of high crossfield balls, but his commitment has been unquestionable and such behaviour from 'fans' will only make it harder for the club to attract future loan signings.
Inevitably, this awful season is creating divisions that will become harder to heal the longer they are left to fester and while there are wide differences of opinion about the way forward, it is safe to say there are few, if any, fans who don’t feel deeply unhappy with the current state of affairs.
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However, while there may be a broad consensus that changes are needed, there is none on what form those changes should take.
Many remember that just five years ago the club needed to sell James Maddison to survive, but that since then, whilst City have experienced two poor seasons in the Premier League, they have also had two exhilarating Championship title-winning seasons while clearing old debts and avoiding new ones.
I’m in no way trying to minimise the current issues at Carrow Road or the urgent need to address them, but the reality is that the fans of numerous Championship clubs, all with richer owners than City, would readily swap that for their own experiences over that period.
Equally, it must be recognised that there are those who demand significant change at all costs. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen fans on Twitter saying they would like to see Mike Ashley buy the club, despite all the damage that he did at Newcastle, and there are plenty that would happily see it run up potentially fatal liabilities if it meant the chance of becoming established in the Premier League.
At the moment we’re all angry, which isn’t conducive to rational consideration, and there are plenty of potential scapegoats to rail against, from the players, Daniel Farke and Dean Smith, to the owners, the sporting director and the set-up whereby the main board effectively leaves day-to-day running to an executive board.
However, either the club is metaphorically burnt to the ground and rebuilt from the ashes, which could take years to come to fruition, or some more limited changes are brought in to try to turn things around more rapidly.
Whatever happens in the summer, I think nearly everyone will agree that the club simply saying that this season has been a crushing disappointment but then changing nothing going forward is no longer a viable option.