Lee Payne: Time for fans to lay off McGovern
All my life I have suffered from a lack of confidence.
The voice inside my head has always been my biggest critic. I convince myself that everyone else is better than me at everything and when I’m in that frame of mind I don’t exactly feel like expressing myself or pushing myself, preferring to stay quiet and in my comfort zone.
I can’t quite imagine, then, what it must be like to not only have to carry around that self-doubt but to be told you’re no good by hundreds of other people too. Worse still, hundreds of people who are supposed to be on your side.
Norwich City goalkeeper Michael McGovern is the latest target for a noisy minority of the club’s supporters who are only happy when they are moaning. His presence in the starting XI is met with such an outcry that you’d think he was the worst keeper ever to play professional football.
He isn’t, of course. Far from it. In 2014 he went 437 minutes without conceding a goal for Hamilton Academical in the top division in Scotland, a record for the club who were managed at the time by future Norwich boss Alex Neil. He has represented his country, Northern Ireland, for a decade and was their number one throughout Euro 2016. His fantastic performance against Germany in that tournament caught the eye and may have had something to do with his transfer to Carrow Road, his first club outside Scotland, a month later.
McGovern’s is a solid career, not spectacular, but then he’s not Gianluigi Buffon. Most footballers who make it in the professional game have careers like his. At the age of 36, as far as I am concerned, he can look back with a good deal of pride at his achievements.
I think the issue these Norwich supporters have with McGovern is that he’s not Tim Krul. In Krul, City have a goalkeeper with over one hundred Premier League appearances. He’s been the star of a World Cup penalty shootout victory for the Netherlands. He’s capable of brilliant saves and has great command of his defence. Crucially, he has an affinity with the fans and seems to really ‘get’ what it means to play for Norwich.
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That is why Krul is the first-choice goalkeeper. I am not here to claim that Michael McGovern is better than Tim Krul, because he isn’t. But when Krul strains a muscle and can’t play, I am certainly here to claim that McGovern is a more than adequate stand-in.
Since Krul came off during the first half at Stoke two weeks ago, McGovern has been City’s keeper for three games and on all three occasions his place in the team has been derided on that misery pit of negativity, social media.
What are these people trying to achieve? If they claim to be supporters of the club, shouldn’t they be – you know – supporting the club? I just can’t get my head around what good they think they are doing by ridiculing and complaining about one of our players, and one who plays in a crucial position at that.
I know if it were me facing that sort of criticism, I would be terrified of making a mistake, knowing the reaction that would generate. I just hope that McGovern doesn’t read the nonsense that is written about him and takes comfort in the undoubted support he gets from his manager and his teammates. They clearly like having him around the place – he’s the typical ‘good professional’ who might not get in the team that often but doesn’t complain about it and is always ready to go when called upon.
I would say to that noisy minority – you know what? Daniel Farke and the Norwich squad probably know more about the game of football than you do. Get off McGovern’s back and support the team. It’s our job.