Punished for a crime we did not commit

The Man In The Stands THE Man found himself sliding into a morose state of mind during Wednesday's defeat to QPR. Although it is by no means unusual for me to lurch towards depression while watching Norwich, this time there seemed to be an even greater feeling of futility.

The Man In The Stands

THE Man found himself sliding into a morose state of mind during Wednesday's defeat to QPR.

Although it is by no means unusual for me to lurch towards depression while watching Norwich, this time there seemed to be an even greater feeling of futility.

My dark thoughts were not solely the result of the lacklustre performance, but a combination of other factors which have been gnawing away at me since the start of the season.

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The Man doesn't really blame anyone for these factors; they are seemingly just the realities of football in 2008. But that does not mean I have to like them.

So forgive me for this sulk, I really hope I'm the only one childish enough to feel like this…

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The first thing that bugged me was all the loan players. Loan after loan after loan. Maybe that's why Mr and Mrs Debtbuster Loans had to leave the board, because the FA had said we'd reached our maximum?

Three out of the back four against QPR were loans players, and the front two were as well.

I'm sorry, I really am, but how can we form an affinity with this team if half of them don't even belong to us, and in all likelihood won't be here next season?

Has it really got to a stage where Norwich City Football Club has to beg Wigan, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough to lend us some of their reserves, just so we can avoid League One?

Yes it has. And that gets right up my snout.

Do not get me wrong, The Man thinks Roeder has done brilliantly to get a decent starting XI ready for this season, without his shrewd use of the loan market we would have been in real trouble.

Neil Doncaster would also point out that players (and their agents) are increasingly career-minded, and that getting people to commit to four-year stays in Norfolk will become harder and harder - even if the club had the money to do it.

But just don't expect The Man to like it.

One or two quality loans are a great supplement to a side, but when you've got half your outfield made up by them it undermines the identity of the club, in my eyes at least.

It's like borrowing a girlfriend from one of your mates, because you are too sad to get one of your own. Or like trying to get excited about a courtesy car, while your old banger is in for an MOT.

I'm not questioning the loan players' commitment to our cause during their stay here - Ched and Berty in particular were outstanding last season - it just isn't the game The Man fell in love with.

Another thing that annoyed me was that it was a near full house on Wednesday; but that such support means absolutely nothing.

There could be one man and a dog at the Carra - or there could be 100,000 people - but it doesn't matter because a poxy little team like QPR can just buy success. The Man knows the XI the New Fulham fielded against us was hardly a multi-million pound line up, but their muscular back four and talented Argentinean would not have been in the blue and white hoops were it not for the cash.

And yet we are just supposed to sit there and take it as our club falls another peg down the food chain. Again, that's not the game I fell for - it just feels like being punished for a crime you did not commit. Like the A-Team.

There used to be a chant: “Norwich 1, cheque book 0, do dah, do dah…” We just don't get to sing it anymore because those teams come and beat us 5-1 in pre-season friendlies, before kindly loaning us one of their reserves.

Sure, I'd love us to have some cash, but it appears we've chosen the dawn of a recession to put the club up for sale, and the only Norwich fan with the money to help us seems to have got up Delia and Michael's nose.

Another dark thought - yes, I was on a roll as I stewed in my plastic yellow seat - was the fact that our youth system is seemingly so infertile that even in these chronic times, when we are begging and borrowing players, none of our youngsters can even get close to the first team.

Our best two recent prospects have had to be loaned to Luton, the most desperate club in the Football League, to try and wake them from their complacency.

While the one genuine bit of class to emerge from the youth set up was justifiably sold to Peterborough to raise some cash.

Yes, our fen-dwelling A47 cousins - routinely watched by four to five thousand people - have more money than us too. Keep up.

But perhaps the most tragic sight on Wednesday night was Fozzy, our one-year contract captain, falling over in midfield during the second half, I can't remember precisely when.

MF is doubtless a top fella, whose attitude last season went a long way towards steering us to safety.

After our win against Plymouth last week he even spoke about Norwich becoming the “perfect team” this season…

If anything characterises how The Man feels about Norwich at the moment, it was the sight of Fozzy going a**e over t*t in the centre circle. It was the Fozzy Flounder. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

In the grander scheme of things, the sad fact is that we have been one of the biggest victims of the football boom.

Before the Sky money started to trickle in Norwich City had been a proper top-flight team for a while, with a decent youth team, and a great scouting system. But like the ugly kid at the party, we've been left in the kitchen to go through the CDs on our own, while the good-looking guests play spin the bottle.

Again, I don't blame anyone for that - but I think fans' frustrations at the way the game is changing are completely valid. I bet Michael and Delia would tell you the same.

The Man is genuinely sorry for being so negative, hopefully a win today will have lifted my spirits, it normally does…OTBC

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