Michael Bailey: It seems Norwich City remain some national pundits’ worst nightmare
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It’s happened before. Sure, back then the industry was two presenters, four pundits, one channel, two mediums and no social media. But it happened.
In fact, it never goes away. Norwich City supporters’ relationship with the national media comes up every season. Some of it justified, some not.
As a club in the Premier League in recent seasons, that exposure is now huge. Global. Almost too big to worry about – unless it’s the Match of the Day running order, which never has a hope of satisfying more than 20pc of fans across the country.
But this is the first time City have spent consecutive seasons in English football’s second tier in pretty much a decade, and that editorial difference – away from the excellent Norfolk media machines of course – has already been visible: Fewer live games for City on Sky Sports and almost nonexistent national previewing commentary away from Wolves and Boro spending a lot plus John Terry joining Aston Villa.
In truth, this is far from a City affliction. So much of the EFL coverage that attempted to fill probably the only Championship weekend of the season without Premier League action alongside it, was mumbling thoughts based on nothing more than what the subject caught once about whatever team they focused on.
James Scowcroft told BBC 5 Live that the City players all ran to Daniel Farke to celebrate Nelson Oliveira’s equaliser to show their unity to the new, unknown boss – one of course, that Ray Wilkins has taken so much offence to given he’s not Alan Curbishley or Alan Pardew.
Someone tell Ray that Norwich have had an English manager for little more than one of the past 19 years – and he’s not remembered in the best way either.
Meanwhile, Tony Cottee is still demanding on Sky Sports that the Canaries solve those goal-scoring issues from last season.
Now this isn’t a blanket issue. Channel 5’s coverage of the EFL with Colin Murray was excellent. There are national journalists like the Guardian’s Paul MacInnes and Paul Doyle who do a great job of either knowing the EFL stuff, or at least finding out.
But just like the way Alan Shearer and Ian Wright used to look scared when they had to work out which City player was in which position when offering some Match of the Day analysis, the weekend exposed the big issue.
When footballers retire, a lot want to be a pundit.
They already have a name. They already ‘know the game’. All they need to do is turn up and talk about it.
With so many national channels and media outlets in need of faces to push their coverage, the jobs are there. It doesn’t matter if they are any good. They don’t even have to get better. They just have to make themselves available.
Ultimately when supporters watch, they will know if they’re getting anything out of what the pundit is saying.
I’m lucky enough to sit next to Darren Eadie on the PinkUn Show every week. He knows his stuff and offers real insight. As does our columnist Iwan Roberts and so many ex-City stars that take on both our PinkUn coverage and that for BBC Radio Norfolk. But we’re lucky – and all too often, those wanting someone without a connection to Norwich to give an informed view, are left wanting.
Don’t expect it to change either. Once City do start flying, it will all be Huddersfield Town comparisons anyway.
• It really has been a strange summer for Nelson Oliveira. The Portuguese striker looked so happy when he was travelling with the squad in Ireland and I know for a fact how happy he was to be at Norwich last season, finally enjoying a club he can call home.
The problem is, staying put doesn’t make much money for his agents and advisers – and all the signs this summer suggested they want to make some money.
No doubt Oliveira hasn’t gone about things well since he came on at Fulham. No doubt there is so much more not in the public domain, that would mitigate some of what has gone on.
But what needs to happen now is a swift resolution that ensures everyone can move on and City still benefit. Hopefully that’s Oliveira’s inclusion in Sunday’s squad, an appearance and even another crucial goal. Then we really can move on.
• Ultimately it was job done on Tuesday night – much more successful than the second round draw anyway. Safe Carabao Cup progress from a strong side named by Daniel Farke.
Sure, the set-piece defending left a fair amount to be desired – but what is more concerning for me so far is the way City are defending crosses in general.
These things take time to sort, but it would be comforting to see an improvement come Sunday.
Otherwise it’s going to cost more points than the other end of the pitch can win back.