Time for Norwich City fans to unite – and work out exactly what they want

The Cardiff game is both regrouping time and delivering time which might keep everyone happy for at

The Cardiff game is both regrouping time and delivering time which might keep everyone happy for at least a few days. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

For some reason, the handful of hours after Norwich City’s defeat at Arsenal last Saturday took me back to the dividing line between 2000 and 2001 – and what was probably my first published prose in the Norwich Evening News.

It wasn’t a story or a poem – it was a letter. In fact, as I remember, it was a pretty angry letter. And it was published with a picture. I’m not going to lie – I kept the clipping.

The words launched into a defence of why Nigel Worthington was the right man to permanently take up the rather stodgy situation left by Bryan Hamilton.

It was an example of the singular focus that most football fans own when they hold an opinion dear. Especially a passionate one. You can listen to the counter arguments – but you still feel incensed that someone actually believes they’re right.

And I will be honest. Saturday night brought a taste of those old feelings – something us journalists are regularly required to either ignore or put to one side.

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The fall-out from defeat at Arsenal was clearly not about those compelling 90 minutes.

A game where City had to feel their way into the game and will still be disappointed with a few chunks of their defending.

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A game where City boss Chris Hughton perhaps didn’t choose the best moment to really go gung-ho, given the Premier League leaders are among the best at exploiting any spaces laid bare in front of them.

But also where City caused Arsenal problems – especially from midfield. Don’t forget all those ‘not one shot on target’ away trips.

Where City kept the ball pretty well and got forward in numbers.

And ultimately, where they played their part in an entertaining game that yes, they lost. But in the context of City’s Premier League fixture list, a defeat at Arsenal is the default. Points at the Emirates are both a bonus, and reliant on the hosts not being at their best.

More likely, the stream of fall-out from a significant portion of the City support was based on the context. The situation. Bottom three. Few goals. Fewer wins. No favours.

The reaction I was exposed to on Saturday – and I’m sure it was similar elsewhere – was what I expected after defeat to Aston Villa. And without wishing to sound negative, it’s what I would expect should the Canaries fail to beat Cardiff tomorrow. City need points – and quickly.

But it feels like some fans have made up their mind on certain matters, and certain people. That can be understandable – but I’m not sure the time for that has arrived yet.

For those same fans, there may well be a big elephant in the room (or ground) at the weekend – a former City skipper sitting in the away dugout. But you’d hope it’s just a hypothetical distraction – and that everyone inside Carrow Road focuses on what’s happening in front of them.

Because for me, the last two games have seen a growing maturity in City’s play. Braver possession, better quality going forward and a noticeable improving cohesion between players.

The fact is if City play against Cardiff as they have been in recent games, they will win. More than that. If they stretch that level across the campaign, they will outdo what they achieved last season.

I know this is Norwich we’re talking about – and there is a big test for the players and coaches to repeat the performance level, attitude and forward play against a newly promoted side.

They may not manage it – and if they don’t, the following criticism and question marks would be justified. But that hasn’t happened yet.

We’re now at early season crunch time. Three home fixtures to potentially define a season – and time for every City fan to will Saturday’s result in the right direction.

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