End of the world is not yet upon us
17:21 18 January 2013
I hardly need to watch a home game to tell whether Norwich City are playing badly because the guy behind me will invariably scream “You idiot!” at every City player who makes a mistake.
He was nearly hoarse by full time on Saturday. It really was a very disappointing performance, but for some people the last five league games seem to have eradicated all memory of the previous ten.
To some extent that’s part of the normal psychology of the football fan, for whom positivity tends to be tempered by a deep foreboding that something is bound to go horribly wrong, but it’s currently being exacerbated by the ridiculous artificial circus that is the transfer window.
While it might come as a surprise that Fifa could ever come up with a stupid idea, the window both allows agents to indulge in a feeding frenzy and forces clubs to make hasty decisions which they can then repent at leisure.
Prices are inflated and all the real action tends to happen in the last few hours, usually involving an interview with Harry Redknapp conducted via his car window. In a nutshell, it flies in the face of good business practice.
What it also does is to create massive stress and anxiety among fans. Indeed, the current lack of City signings has produced reactions in some quarters that would suggest that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been spotted galloping down Carrow Road.
I’ve read numerous comments to the effect that, as the club knew that the window was coming and where they needed to strengthen, they should have effectively been able to sign their chosen target on the first day of the window. If only life was so simple.
The reality is that unless you wield megabucks, which City certainly don’t, any player available for transfer at the start of the window is likely to be a squad player unwanted by his current club. Inevitably, the signature of such a player invariably results in expressions of disappointment, because fans want stars, not journeymen.
However, no well run club will consider parting with a star player without lining up a replacement, which further delays the process, and good players invariably attract multiple suitors, resulting in a great deal of time consuming bartering.
Of course, the closer to the end of the window we get, the more the pressure intensifies and prices are driven even higher, which is why Chris Hughton has repeatedly stressed that the club will only act if the deal is right.
There’s nothing negative in that sort of statement, just a message that City won’t be deflected from the sound business principles that have got the club where it is today.
Unfortunately the media circus that’s generated by the window creates a “kid in a sweetshop” effect whereby fans see numerous attractive names linked with their club, often when there has been no actual contact whatsoever.
However, once the spectre of a Gary Hooper or a John Guidetti is out there it takes on a life of its own, spread virally by social networks. All of a sudden something that was probably only ever a journalist’s fantasy has become reality in people’s minds with the inevitable disappointment when a signing doesn’t happen. I detest this process because it plays with fans’ emotions to sell papers and promote websites.
I genuinely believe that we will see additions to the squad in January, but I also accept that, despite the best efforts of the club, it may not happen. If that turns out to be the case, I’m not going to deny that I, like virtually every City fan, will feel very deflated.
However, I won’t be preparing for the end of the world either.