Why fans must show patience
PUBLISHED: 21:00 09 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 10 September 2010
In all my recent years of supporting Norwich City I've never been so unsure about the start of a new season. Following relegation from the Premiership my pre-season pessimism was well-founded when we started at home to Coventry with Simon Charlton and Andy Hughes in centre midfield, and the season descended into farce typified by the away losses at Crystal Palace, QPR and Luton, and the home win against QPR.
In all my recent years of supporting Norwich City I've never been so unsure about the start of a new season.
Following relegation from the Premiership my pre-season pessimism was well-founded when we started at home to Coventry with Simon Charlton and Andy Hughes in centre midfield, and the season descended into farce typified by the away losses at Crystal Palace, QPR and Luton, and the home win against QPR.
At the start of the season after, with Nigel Worthington still at the helm, we started well with three wins in the first five games, and I thought that we had turned the corner. How wrong I was. It took a change of manager and some Huckerby-inspired performances to improve City to a lower mid-table finish.
At the start of last season, I was wildly bullish about our prospects after an away draw and two home wins which featured seven goals. How wrong I was. It took a change of manager, and a Lazarus-like recovery from a first third of the season in which we accumulated only nine points.
Even before the season has started we've already ridden on the Peter Cullum “will he won't he?” rollercoaster. The timing of the story could be described at best as very unfortunate. Just as City were quietly going about the business of re-building the squad, a story hit the press that could have meant we were loaded. Or not loaded. No-one knew. But it was not rocket science to work out if City enquired about a player the price or wages demanded would have risen significantly.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the reporting, what Peter Cullum offered or did not offer, or whatever was declined or not by the board, come 3pm each Saturday, the supporters need to be focused on one thing - the team and nothing else.
Not which players might have featured had we had accepted Cullum's money. And not Darren Huckerby either.
Let's remember him for the legend he is, but for 90 minutes each week we need to realise that he's not playing for us any more. I can't see the players responding positively if City are struggling in a game and sections of the crowd start singing “Oh Huckerby”.
Despite Glenn Roeder's achievement in keeping Norwich in the Championship, I still sense that there is a significant minority of supporters expecting him (and also the team) to fail, and these supporters will be the first to vent their displeasure at the team, the manager and the board at the first opportunity they have. I am worried that if we play poorly today or at MK, next week's home game against Blackpool will be billed as a must win.
All I would ask of the supporters is that Glenn Roeder and the team are given time. I'm confident we have a decent squad this season but with many new players it will take a while for the team to gel, and for those on-field partnerships and player understandings to build up.
My two wishes for the season are simple ones. I want to enjoy watching my football team play in atmosphere of togetherness, not a divisive atmosphere of tension and waiting for the team to fail. And I also need a new hero, a player who will worry the opposition, get the crowd singing his name, and become the focal point of the team.
And if I get these two things, the chances are that City might get a few wins which will mean a decent season.