Ian Clarke: It’s more a case of Mattress Carrow Road than Fortress Carrow Road
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Remember when we talked about Fortress Carrow Road?
Teams used to fear coming to NR1.
Norwich City was a friendly club but behind the warm welcome off the pitch was a less easy-going streak on the grass.
The home points were racked up and the ground was bouncing.
There was an expectation City would win. There was a buzz among the fans and those wearing yellow and green loved going.
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During this week – as we have contemplated that desperately disappointing draw against Barnsley and the defeat at Forest – so much discussion has been about what has happened to the atmosphere at the home of the Canaries.
Too many season ticket holders, an ageing fan base, complacency, supporters going for an afternoon out rather than to roar on their heroes.
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The number of reasons for Carra resembling a library have come in thick and fast on forums and social media.
I can see an element of logic in all of them.
Many supporters I know have been going for countless years and there is a routine in attending home matches.
We go with the same people. We sit near the same old friends.
However, that is nothing new.
When we were winning game after game the same was true.
Bring back the clappers. Limit the number of season ticket holders. Offer cheap tickets to get more younger supporters in. Have a designated singing area. Introduce safe standing.
Lots of solutions have been put forward to raise the decibel levels.
I don’t particularly disagree with any of them.
All of those ideas, though, relate to things off the pitch.
In my mind the only thing which will get the juices flowing and volume up is what happens when the players cross that white line.
Remember when that late equaliser went in against Hull?
Apart from me standing on my seat, the stadium went mad. People miles away heard the euphoria.
The amazingly loyal yellow and green army can make plenty of noise but have to have a reason to raise the roof.
The stalemate on Saturday meant the Canaries have gone six home games without a win, which is the first time that has happened in the second tier since 1998-99.
Just two wins from nine games at home is simply not good enough. City are 19th in the home form table in the Championship. Only lowly Birmingham have scored fewer goals.
At the moment Carrow Road feels so far from being a fortress and in fact is more like a mattress.
There is far too much sleepiness and lethargy. There’s very little urgency or tempo or excitement or cohesion.
Things are spiralling and the lacklustre home performances are generating more frustration and apathy in the stands.
I have delved into the record books to see how bad things really are compared with previous seasons. And the stats certainly back up the underlying feeling among supporters.
I looked at the first 17 games over the last 20 seasons to compare home and away form. This campaign is the least successful in all that time for success at NR1 compared with on the road.
By this stage in 2001/2, we had bagged 22 points on home turf and in 2003/4, there was only one point fewer.
Even in the years in the Premier League, we were doing better at Carrow Road.
Just think where we’d be without those wins at Sheffield United, Reading, Middlesborough and Ipswich.
Saturday’s visit by Alex Neil and his Preston charges is now massive for so many reasons.
The rot has to be halted and we must get points on the board.
Daniel Farke’s men have to see the ball moved quicker, the energy levels raised, more fight and less desire to create the perfect goal.
Let’s put the mattress away and rebuild the fortress. OTBC.
Talk of change is ridiculous
I’ve spent most of this column taking a fairly gloomy look at the current situation for Norwich.
However, I think talk of changing the management team is ridiculous.
In absolute basic economic terms, City wouldn’t be able to afford to get rid of Daniel Farke and his support staff, even if the board was so inclined to do it.
The latest City accounts laid bare the cost of parting with previous managers.
Far more than the cash issue, is the fact that we have to stick with Farke and the players.
We knew it was going to be a season of massive transition and most fans realistically didn’t expect promotion.
We need things to improve with the leadership they have.
Farke has made some good decisions after some poor performances.
He now faces a real challenge to turn things around and end the barren spell.
For me more upheaval would serve no purpose at all.
So it’s over to you Daniel.
We need more than words
There were certainly plenty of eyebrows raised, fingers busily posting on social media and people ringing into Canary Call when Daniel Farke said he felt the defeat at Forest on Tuesday was City’s best away performance of the season.
A 1-0 loss in which the Canaries didn’t do anywhere near enough to trouble a fairly average home team hardly shouts out as an example of how to do it on the road - especially when the showings at Sheffield United, Ipswich, Middlesborough and Reading were so positive.
Of course the head coach is entitled to his opinion and I love so much of what he has said since he arrived.
After the Barnsley game he said: “I don’t want us to wait for a win - but to force one.”
Absolutely, we all shout in unison.
Farke never backs out of an interview or dodges a question.
But we have to start seeing the action from his troops speaking louder than his words.