SIX THINGS: 6 – Style of the essence if Norwich City fans are to keep the faith

PUBLISHED: 18:37 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:37 14 May 2018

Norwich City fans taking part in a friendly pre-derby match march in February. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Norwich City fans taking part in a friendly pre-derby match march in February. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

Continuing our Six Things Summer Special, we look at you, the fans, and what you deserve for the price of a ticket – CHRIS LAKEY believes the answer to that one is ‘more’.

The score board flashes up a message to the Norwich City fans.
Picture by Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd The score board flashes up a message to the Norwich City fans. Picture by Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

The season is barely over, but you don’t have to cup your hand to your ear to hear the lingering criticism of Norwich City’s campaign.

It’s been a constant accompaniment as City lurched from one mid-table position to another. To say the Stuart Webber-Daniel Farke plan has divided opinion is an understatement.

Rarely has the accusation that City play boring football been used so regularly. And whilst hysteria is the currency of many a social media mouth, in this case it has often been true. For fans who have been used to a few years of meaningful engagement, this season has been far too Ipswich-like.

The minute a football club charges someone to go through the turnstile, they have an obligation to keep them satisfied. And once you lose the fans, it is extremely hard to get them back. It is one of the main reasons football managers lose their jobs. Bad results don’t help, but when the crowd refuses to accept the manager’s reasoning (good and honest though they may be) and they turn against the man in charge, the writing is on the wall.

Daniel Farke masks on one of the Norwich City fans' coaches bound for the Emirates Stadium and the Arsenal match. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Daniel Farke masks on one of the Norwich City fans' coaches bound for the Emirates Stadium and the Arsenal match. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Which is why, despite the breadth of feeling towards Farke and Webber stretching all the way from complete and utter rose-tinted-spectacles devotion at one end to a worrying seam of complete and utter disillusionment at the other, there is cause for concern that patience may be in short supply.

In any normal season – and the past one has been anything but normal – there would have been more calls for the manager’s head. Fans can be unforgiving, but even among those who are wringing their hands in frustration there are many who are holding fire, keeping their powder dry in case things turn. Farke has had a stay of execution of sorts.

Managers rarely admit they are swayed by public opinion (Mick McCarthy’s two-fingered response to his own team’s supporters at Carrow Road was proof of that) but there does come a time when you listen to their discontent, not their advice on your substitutions, or tactics.

As a fan you will probably have welcomed the openness and honesty from Webber and Farke – no punches pulled, no excuses shoved into faces. Among the disappointment of the season, they are trying to improve things in difficult circumstances. This is a line which really does need taking into account every time their work is discussed. Circumstances aren’t normal; every pound is a prisoner and it is their job to rebuild.

Happy Norwich City fans ready to head by coach to Chelsea for the FA Cup match. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Happy Norwich City fans ready to head by coach to Chelsea for the FA Cup match. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But it won’t stop the fans revolting. City is a changing club – one thing it must change is the level of entertainment. Fans pay, they have a right to make demands. And at the moment, City need to listen very, very intently to avoid anything revolting. Cut out the boring stuff, give the fans something to make a noise about and the team will benefit.

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