Your Posts: We’re Norwich City, we’ll sing on our own
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
'Your Posts' is a series where Norwich City supporters get their say. Next up is Canaries fan Stanley Stearman, who feels City don't get the credit they deserve.
I want to preface this thought piece with the statement that this does not come from a place of pity nor “woe is me” mentality.
As a Norwich fan for most of my life and a season ticket holder between 2003 and 2015, it’s fair to say I’ve seen a real arch of emotion following the Canaries.
One thing that has always struck me is our ability to go under the radar and seamlessly avoid the adulation and praise a lot of other teams are afforded during their periods of success. It’s a careful narrative to navigate and one I’ve often spoken with friends and family about and come to no real conclusion.
In a season when it is looking likely we will return to the Premier League, I have been left feeling like our achievements have once again gone under the radar.
That’s not to say we should be constantly searching for validation from the national media but for a team to be eight points clear in the Championship, a league often heralded for its competitiveness and difficulty in maintaining form over the 46-game campaign, it seems curious to me we are not being championed more.
As when Brentford went top after their win at Reading in February, there was a media outpouring, lauding them reaching their zenith in first place. I understand the support, perhaps as they have never reached the Premier League, they also play very good football, they were so close last season, and there is also intrigue about their consistent recruitment, especially of strikers which has reaped reward over the years.
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Since that point, at the time of writing, Brentford have only won three of their last 11, including a 1-0 loss to Norwich, in which by all accounts, I think Brentford were very poor. I am conscious not to use this as an opportunity to criticise Brentford as I’d very much like them to reach the Premier League as I think they deserve it, but I am more interested by the dichotomy in reactions to their success compared with Norwich’s.
The standout explanation is the fact Norwich are now the official “yo-yo” team of the Premier League having been relegated five times from the top tier. I imagine fans of opposition teams are bored of seeing us reach the promised land only to fall back down within a season as we have done three times.
Yet, it’s easy to forget 2011-12 and 2012-13 where we finished 12th and 11th respectively in our first seasons back since 2004. The football under Paul Lambert was enterprising despite always struggling against the bigger teams. Granted, the football under Chris Hughton was a touch negative, but we did beat Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City across the 12-13 season.
We also went 10 unbeaten that season, we are also a founding member of the Premier League, finishing third in 1992-93 with an impressive negative goal difference.
Some of the more recent Premier League campaigns have been increasingly difficult as with our lack of investment we have tended to struggle to compete. A graphic that did the rounds on social media last summer highlighted the net spend of Premier League clubs over the last five seasons, which ranked us 20th, having actually made a £25m profit, the only club to do so, with Southampton the next closest having spent £22m net.
A team like Sheffield United were endlessly praised last season for their innovative overlapping centre-backs and their rise from the lower leagues, but even they had spent over £50m net getting there. The same for Leeds, who have by all means been an interesting watch at times this season having finally been promoted, but they spent just shy of £100m if you are to believe Transfermarkt.
I think the closest we have been to being viewed as positive by the media was last season as Farkeball swept the league, as sadly, most teams swept us aside, except Manchester City, which was a beacon of positivity in a predominately bleak season.
We did very well to keep most of the squad intact, and we have retained the great football, and are conceding fewer goals, with less reliance on late winners or equalisers. I guess your viewpoint on the latter depends on your disposition.
In an age where football Twitter likes to seek out the hipster’s choice, for example Brighton’s inability to score or win games they should despite having a top-five worthy xG, it surprises me that we aren’t more popular amongst fans of other teams or the media.
We are the only professional team in Norfolk, we have no external investment, we promote and develop young players and often compete at the highest domestic level in England, all while endeavouring to play great football.
I guess where I’ve meandered towards is why don’t Norwich seem to get the same praise that teams like Brentford, Sheffield United and Leeds yield? I think it’s a bit ethereal and I certainly don’t have the answers as it’s always a minefield to traverse the argument without sounding bitter.
In conclusion, I think I quite like how we seem to slip under the radar of the media on the whole, and it’s certainly not in the psyche of Norwich fans to wear our perceived irrelevance as a badge, like some fans would do in terms of “everyone hating us” because I don’t think anyone does.
Well, except our increasingly distant neighbours across the county lines and perhaps even they hate us less seeing how far we are apart in terms of league positions these days.
This definitely comes from a place of curiosity rather than resentment as there are plenty of teams in a way worse position than Norwich and I am thankful we are run in a great way, play attacking football and every few years we get our season in the sun. Which is either a title-competing season in the second tier or a battle against all odds in the top tier, depending on how full you fill your glass.
That’s not to say we aren’t privy to great support and content on social media as channels like Talk Norwich City, Michael Bailey’s work in the Athletic, the team at Radio Norfolk, as well as the Pink Un and the EDP always covering the Canaries in a brilliant and effervescent way.
Perhaps we should mind the danger of being too present in the limelight as the fall from the top is a lot harder. We’re Norwich City, we’ll sing on our own.
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