Chris Goreham: Why it’s worth giving City’s ‘moaners’ the benefit of the doubt
Emi Buendia is either a gem of a footballer plucked from relative obscurity to light up what has turned into one of Norwich City’s most remarkable seasons or he’s a cheating little so and so. It depends which set of supporters you listen to.
Our commentary position at Rotherham United was in amongst the home crowd.
It’s only when you see fans of other teams up close that you realise quite how ridiculous football supporters are.
Each decision that went against The Millers was met with howls of derision from a series of increasingly ruddy-faced men who looked like they had come from central casting, answering an advert in The Stage for ‘stereotypical northern football crowd’.
It’s hard to imagine that Buendia ever had to put up with howls of “This is football not bloomin’ diving” from the terraces every time he was hacked to the floor during his time in Spain.
This isn’t meant to single out Rotherham fans, it’s the same everywhere.
The passion for a club, the desire to watch them win and the worry that they might lose means that impartial judgements are impossible to find during a match regardless of the club involved.
The ‘Sunderland Till I Die’ Netflix documentary which chronicles their relegation from The Championship last season is the perfect example of how wilfully delusional fans are.
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In spite of a consistently calamitous campaign almost every episode contains at least one miserable Mackem clinging to the sort of hope that has kept us all going about our club at times.
There is no sadder sentence to hear a supporter utter than “if we can just get three points on Saturday, it might be the result that turns it all around”.
Norwich City’s current season is at the other end of the spectrum and the Championship but that doesn’t mean that everyone in yellow green is feeling cool, calm and rational.
Much has been made of the reaction towards City goalkeeper Tim Krul during the 3-2 win over Hull City after a poor kick from the Dutchman led to a Hull goal. A handful of fans sarcastically cheered when he kicked one long during the second half.
Sporting director Stuart Webber was keen to point out that playing the ball on the ground to the goalkeeper has been a regular feature of the Canaries’ tactics this season and given their lofty league position it’s churlish to criticise that approach.
It’s not risk-free and Norwich were bound to concede a goal or two in that manner but, like most things in life, it’s all a compromise.
Most of us would prefer to watch that than the constant hoof-ball that some teams employ as their best route to Championship success.
The goalkeeper barely ever gets caught in possession but with the ball in the air for so long they stand little chance of constructing a cohesive passing move.
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That’s the calm and collected way of looking at it but, as those Rotherham and Sunderland fans will testify, it’s not easy to be so reasonable during the heat of battle.
The jeers at Krul didn’t feel like an attempt to undermine him, more an outward sign of the nerves fans feel during a match with so much now on the line.
We all say and do things in the heat of the moment that we regret.
I know that I have blamed players for giving away a goal during commentaries in the past only to watch it back the next day and notice several mitigating circumstances.
Let’s not write-off those fans as pure ‘moaners’ I’d prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt that it might be down to a nervous disposition. We’re all going to need to stick together over the final eight games of the season because there will be more nail-biting moments if this campaign is to get the glorious finale that it deserves.
If we can just get three points in our next game, that will set us up nicely. Hang on, where have I heard that before?