Chris Goreham: Asking the burning City questions is a big responsibility

PUBLISHED: 12:10 29 January 2019

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke is always a man in demand after each game. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke is always a man in demand after each game. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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It never ceases to amaze me how popular social media is with footballers.

It’s great that so many like the idea of being accessible to their own fans but it’s surprising that by now the novelty of filtering out fruity messages from supporters of other teams to find the nice ones hasn’t worn off.

The build-up to Saturday’s breathless 2-2 draw between Norwich City and Sheffield United highlighted the extent to which the mind games have now moved into the Twittersphere.

The Blades casually posted some pictures from inside the away dressing room at Carrow Road which revealed they had brought enough paper to cover the pink paint on the walls of which so much was made earlier in the season.

Once the phony online war ended and the match began we were treated to a spectacle that lived up to its top-of-the-table billing.

Sheffield United’s approach was best summed up by the fact that ‘Basham’ is not only the name of one of their defenders but also, one suspects, the final instruction given to the team by manager Chris Wilder before they ran out at Carrow Road.

Norwich City managed to dominate at times but also struggle to hang on at times which suggests a draw was a fair result.

At full-time there was some understandable disappointment from City fans who had seen their side work so hard to take the lead twice and yet allow the Blades to hit back both times.

The main talking point among those using the ‘ncfc’ hashtag was whether Daniel Farke had waited too long before shuffling his pack by not making a substitution until the 88th minute.

On match days in particular it can be the commentators and reporters who become the social media target men and women. This paper’s very own Michael Bailey recently picked-up some new words from Portsmouth fans after Norwich’s FA Cup defeat.

MORE: Six things we learned from Sheffield United draw

The most-often read complaint for those of us in the press box is that we are not tough enough when questioning Daniel Farke or whoever the Norwich City manager happens to be at a given time. It came up again on Saturday.

There are 26,000 people in the ground who would love an opportunity to speak to Farke after the match so doing it on their behalf is a responsibility that can’t be taken lightly.

For the sake of clarity there are no official time constraints on how long we are allowed to talk to the manager and they don’t get any idea of what we are about to ask them.

My job is to record the interview (which usually happens at around 5.20pm after a Saturday game) get it sent back to our studios and played out on air in full before the end of the excellent Canary Call at 6pm. So, for practical reasons, these interviews tend to last around five minutes.

It’s not enough time to go the full Frost/Nixon or invite them onto Graham Norton’s sofa. There’s just time to cover whatever big issues have emerged during the game and, as we may not get to speak to the manager again until just before the next game, ask any burning questions about the club or season in general.

My approach has never been to steam in and tell a manager what I think they should have done.

Even a relatively successful career on the Championship Manager computer game doesn’t provide me with the confidence for that.

I have always thought it best and fairest to give managers an opportunity to explain their thinking when it comes to team selection and tactics before following up with anything that might have been more forcibly expressed from the stands during the afternoon.

It doesn’t always go well.

Most weeks I think of a really good question I should have asked five minutes after Mr Farke has gone off to be interviewed by another outlet and I know I will never have covered the ground that every listener was hoping for.

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