David Hannant: Thank you for proving my point, Dennis Srbeny
- Credit: Moritz Müller/Pool/PA Wire
It’s always nice to have a point proven in a big way.
It’s even nicer when that point is proven by somebody like Dennis Srbeny, who I always had time for in his City days.
A few weeks ago now, when talk of behind closed doors football first started to rumble, I dedicated this column to musing about just how much I hate the idea.
With this now well under way in Germany, a former City striker proved one the main points of my argument – and went on to speak about how he felt the same way.
By now, most Norwich City fans will have seen Dennis Srbeny’s worldy of a strike for Paderborn against Hoffenheim on Saturday.
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The former City man pounced on a defensive error to curl the most perfect of long-range strikes into the top corner.
It was the kind of goal any striker would be proud of and one that would have produced just the greatest noise from the crowd.
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You can just picture it can’t you?
“Ahhh,” as the defender put his pass astray.
“Ohhh,” as Srbeny bears down on the ball.
“Wooooah,” as the ball nestles plum in the top corner.
Instead, it was just a round of applause from his team-mates after what was a stunning goal.
Speaking of it afterwards, the German said: “I looked at the goal later, it wasn’t bad but I would have loved to celebrate with our fans. Ghost games are vital for the clubs, but I miss the cheers - football is not possible without the fans.”
And there it is. After scoring what must surely be one of the best goals of his career, Dennis was yearning for more.
Yes, the goal ‘went viral’ and was widely shared on social media, but it still just felt eery and not right.
One of things I spoke of last time was Mario Vrancic’s special free-kick against Sheffield Wednesday and how that wouldn’t have been the same without the roars and the limbs.
Dennis’s wonder strike, which in terms of technical ability was of a similar ilk, proves that.
I must confess, I’ve not watched too much of the Bundesliga since it began, partly out of not wanting to feel a hypocrite after going in so hard on the notion of ‘ghost games’, but I must confess, I found myself taking in some of the Dortmund-Munich game whilst flicking through channels.
Some of the football was truly scintillating - two of the very best sides in the world, moving the ball beautifully and attacking each other with great aplomb.
From a purely footballing point of view, you couldn’t have asked for two better sides to watch.
But you know what? I found myself yearning to be watching Burnley against Palace with a full stadium of fans.
Without a stadium full, Dortmund-Munich was just about watchable, solely for the level of talent on display. But, honestly, give me two average sides playing in front of impassioned fans over a ghost game between two sets of footballing geniuses any day.
Obviously, I’ll take footballing genius or Norwich City (what’s the difference?) with stadiums as my first choice, but I just can’t see myself getting used to there not being supporters there.
I’m of course going to have to, but that doesn’t mean I will or can do so happily.
Through my 20 minutes or so of watching the crunch Bundesliga game, one thing did occur, though.
It was a moment late on when the hosts won a clear free-kick on the edge of Munich’s area. As soon as the referee blew his whistle there was a crowd of players barking in his face. The barks were short and sharp and it did quickly disperse, but even so, it was audible.
It got me thinking what on earth it will be like once the Premier League is back under way.
I don’t think I’m being unfair to suggest that players in England do not tend to have quite the same level of decorum as their counterparts in Germany. I’m sure television networks and regulators are wriggling nervously in their chairs at the prospect of the first contentious decision in a Premier League fixture.
Foul language and football are never too far away, but never before will it have been quite as audible to the armchair viewer - which for the forseeable will be everybody, it seems.
Maybe, just maybe, it could actually end up producing the one silver lining of the behind closed doors era. Certainly, if I were a footballer, I’d be a little more cautious about effing and jeffing at officials if I knew my every word would be caught crystal clear and not masked by enraged supporters.
I’ve made it well known I’m against behind closed doors, but if it is going to produce one positive thing, surely an age of more respect for officials will be that.