Robin Sainty: Here we go again – it’s one extreme to another for Norwich City fans
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
So much for my career as a clairvoyant.
Let me start by putting my hands up and admitting that following the Arsenal game I wrote that we could be on the verge of something special, whereas in fact we have seen results spiralling downwards into what is, dependent upon your viewpoint, a slump, a crisis or the end of the world as we know it.
The AGM was hardly a cause for optimism, but contained few surprises either, given that the financial information and its implications had been widely disseminated and commented upon in the intervening period since the publication of the accounts.
Students of body language have focused on the fact that Stuart Webber’s post AGM interview was considerably less upbeat than those he gave in August, but then again, should we expect anything else, because if it had, I suspect he would have been pilloried for fiddling while Rome burnt, given the current winless run?
What’s more concerning is the return of the almost annual divide amongst fans with “bedwetters” and “happy clappers” trading insult for insult on social media after the latest setback at Cardiff at a time when everyone really needs to be pulling together.
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Differences of opinion are inevitable, and not in themselves unhealthy, but it worries me that we are again seeing extremes developing whereby those who want a change of ownership refuse to accept that anything less than adherence to their agenda equates to a lack of concern about the club’s current state, while those who don’t think an eight-game winless run constitutes a significant problem dismiss the genuine concerns of others as implying a lack of support.
I’m hardly in a position to sit in moral judgment because I’ve been guilty of wading into the argument on occasions, but I’m trying not to because it’s clear how damaging this split is becoming at such a critical point in the season.
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As at Nottingham Forest, City started well at Cardiff but failed to make their undoubted superiority count in the first half before losing out to a resurgent home side who, in all honesty, could have won by more.
Whilst it’s always hard to try to pluck positives from a defeat, one thing that did strike me is that City showed a greater willingness to use the long ball in the first half and, as a result, created more in the way of chances than we’ve seen for a while.
However, a combination of lack of composure and an act of extreme selfishness by Nelson Oliveira, whose increasingly indolent performances are doing nothing to help a team already shorn of key players by injury, meant that City led by only a single goal at the break when their overall play probably deserved more.
It had always puzzled me why Benfica sent a player as clearly talented as Oliveira out on six separate loans around Europe while playing him themselves only 12 times in seven seasons. It also seemed strange that none of his loan clubs appeared keen to sign him permanently, until City took the plunge just before the close of the summer 2016 transfer window. I’m considerably less puzzled now.
Somehow, Daniel Farke has to find a winning formula because there is a growing apathy amongst fans which is being fuelled by the lack of entertainment value as much as the poor results, and with this week’s developments regarding Block A of the Barclay unlikely to improve the atmosphere in the ground the last thing the club needs is another poor home performance.
That’s why the growing divide in the fan base saddens me, because whether or not people believe that a cataclysmic failure on the pitch will ultimately get them what they want, the realistic likelihood is that if the club’s current strategy fails to bear fruit over time every single one us who love City will be losers.