Jonathan Blathwayt: Why are fans feeling underwhelmed by Norwich City?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After 10 games into a season, I feel you generally get a good idea of how things will pan out by the end.
Obviously, there are always an exception or two that spring up with either a great escape or a late surge into the top spots, but by and large, you know where you stand.
This season, with this Norwich team, I really can’t say with any confidence I can tell where Norwich will ultimately end up.
With the Burnley game being delayed, Bristol City and West Brom were going to be the strongest tests Norwich faced in this first part of the season and Norwich have come away unbeaten and with four points under their belt. Add to this the fact they sit second in the table and have gone on a six-match winning streak, then everything should be feeling very positive.
However, it is impossible to escape that nagging feeling that something isn’t right.
As Norwich fans we have witnessed almost all the possible outcomes of a Championship season in the last 10 or so years.
From a disappointing relegation, midtable nothingness, play-off pushes, with victories and defeats and titles, both nervy and comfortable. There is always a comparable season we can pull out of the memory to use as an example of where the current one may end up.
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For me, this season is on a bit of a knife edge, it could go the way of 20/21, where Norwich weren’t actually that convincing in the early part and in the first 20 games only secured wins with more than a one goal margin twice. They really found their feet later in the season and coasted to an impressive title with 97 points. On the flip side, this could be a season like 16/17 where Norwich sat in second place after 10 games, but then collapsed away in October.
This comprehensive memory bank I think is also why many fans are finding the success of the season so far hard to really enjoy.
The Championship is often described as a rollercoaster, with plenty of thrills and spills, but is it really that thrilling when you’ve ridden it numerous times?
There is also the painful knowledge that being successful in the Championship is tempered with the prize of the Premier League looming. Norwich fans know all too well the chasm in quality between the Championship and Premier League and any sign of weakness now, means should promotion happen, another horror season could just be around the corner.
Add all these things together and it may give some clue to why so many fans feel so flat at the moment.
On paper everything seems great, lots of wins, lots of goals to celebrate and exciting new signings. Any rational fan should be delighted and with the current season. Unfortunately, ‘rational’ and ‘football fan’ generally are not two things you normally see together.
There are some who long for the silky Farke style football (although I think the memory is probably a bit better than the reality, there were plenty of fairly scratchy performances in both of Farke’s Championship wins). I think there are some who feel it hard to connect with a team that is still full of players who have failed to impress in the Premier League too many times.
I hope this is just still fans (and I include myself in this) suffering a hangover from last season and snap out of it; winning games should never be taken for granted, even in the Championship. Maybe the international break will give everyone a chance to take a break from the frenetic pace of the Championship and pause to reflect that being second is okay, even if the performances aren’t quite where they should be just now.