The context of a defeat

Something has gone a bit wrong with some Norwich fans. I don’t quite understand it but there is an overriding feeling of dissatisfaction that has crept onto Twitter in recent weeks. I’ve had the feeling at some home games this season as well (Fulham, Leicester), despite our incredible season, there are still grumblings, which leads me to ask a simple question, why?

The context of a defeat is vital. As with many things, football being no different context has a huge part to play in how we should view a situation. I sat and watched Norwich lose at Blackburn from the comfort of my bedroom via a stream on the internet. I found the game largely frustrating. We passed the ball well to begin with, had some half chances the best of which fell to the standard surprise selection, which today was James Vaughan who snatched at his chance like a man who hadn’t played much football, which isn’t entirely surprising as he hasn’t played much football.

There was effort, Vaughan was running around like a young child who had been shut in a classroom all morning on a sunny day and had just been let out of the door at break time. It was good to see him on the pitch as he’s spent most of this season struggling off it with injuries. Blackburn to their credit stayed in the game, defended well (which has been rare this season) and created the better chances. Thanks to some horrible defending they took the lead and after the break with a great bit of quality and with the help of some more horrible defending, doubled it thanks to a great strike from Hoilett.

Norwich never really looked like getting back into it. Something was missing today, that was there in abundance against Spurs. It was that desire to change the game, that fight and spirit and determination not to get beat. It’s those often hard to define qualities that are often so apparent during the 90 minutes but can be lost amid the highlights.

Fired up: proving they were able to match and beat Spurs clearly meant far more to the Norwich players then battling past Blackburn.

Steve Morison came on, didn’t do a lot and was apparently subjected to abuse, to which he allegedly responded quite firmly, letting the so called fan in question know exactly what he thought. Of course this could be a work of internet rumour and fiction but it’s depressingly believable. Here is a list of various points I’d like to make:

  • Abusing players is stupid.
  • Silence is a powerful statement that should be used more often.
  • Norwich are going to stay up.
  • At the start of the season we’d all have taken the position we’re in now.
  • Blackburn really REALLY needed the win today.
  • Away games in the Premier League are ALL hard, without exception.
  • There is a difference between criticism and abuse.
  • Keep your criticism to yourself.

It is often the case that the people who are most vocally critical at football matches are the people who are the most clueless. If you are a loud detractor of players at a game and think this doesn’t apply to you, then it doubly does, with sugar on top. I was frustrated by the game today. I moaned on twitter. The people who follow me on Twitter had to endure this, but that’s what you get when you follow someone and it’s easy to un-follow.

If I’d have gone to the game, I might have moaned to the person sat next to me (if I happened to know them) but I certainly wouldn’t have shouted abuse at the players. I play football, not at any good standard, but the point remains that sometimes it’s flat and you have a bad game. Now in a perfect world this wouldn’t happen, but it does. If you shout abuse at a player, they can’t choose not to hear it, they can’t walk off the pitch, they are supposed to act as if it doesn’t affect them and with the calm serenity of a Buddhist monk continue with the game.

Here is a team of Buddhist Monks, but please don't abuse them either.

The fans who paid and travelled to Blackburn can be disappointed, but over the course of the season it’s a minor disappointment and that’s football. Get used to it, if you pay your money to go and watch a game and expect never to be let down or disappointed then I’m sorry, but you’ve only yourself to blame. Were Norwich deep in a relegation battle or going for a place in Europe and had turned in a display like we did today then there would be far more cause for complaint. A relegation battle followed by a last-ditch escape to survival would have been a great achievement for this team, so as it is we’ve far exceeded even my wildest expectations.

Now I know there is still money and positions to play for and I know that it is important. But today was such a rarity this season, where we didn’t perform well that I don’t think you should be too harsh on the players. There have been games where we could have picked up more points and games we’ve been lucky to get anything from, but far more often than not this season, the team has accomplished more than I expected of them.

So if you are one of those fans that constantly gets on at players, then shut up. If you think that because you’ve paid for your ticket you’ve a right to shout abuse at the players, then you’re wrong. Buying the ticket lets you watch the game, that’s it, if you want to gob off and shout abuse stay in the pub and shout at the TV, it’s cheaper, the players can’t hear you and you can continue to drink all through the game.

Steve Morison isn’t playing well at the moment, but we know he can play well, we’ve all seen it. He knows he can play better, if anyone really thinks he’s playing badly on purpose then they need to take a look at themselves.

So to sum up, it’s fine to moan, it’s OK to grumble and it’s acceptable to expect a lot from your team, especially if you pay a not inconsiderable sum of money and travel a long way to watch them. But you need to remember the context, one poor away defeat in the season we’ve had is nothing. A few poor performances from a player who scored valuable goals for us and was a key component in our early season successes doesn’t matter. For all most of us fans know Morison may still be carrying an injury, give the man a break!

The Blackburn fans were being criticised for having a go at Steve Kean. He’s made a good team worse, taken a mid-table side into a relegation battle and they had lost their last five games and are still in the bottom three. The owners have no relationship with the fans and the fans feel they are struggling to be heard as they watch their club falling towards the clutches of The Championship, so it’s no surprise they protest and that some of that spills over into abuse. How’s that for context?

In contrast, regardless of today’s result Norwich are riding the crest of a wave. If you are a Norwich fan and you can’t take a step back and enjoy the fact that since Lambert took over we’ve been on an incredible and unbelievable journey then I pity you. If after back to back promotions and Premier League safety you’re still the same old miserable moaning moron shouting “get it forward” almost incoherently then there is no hope for you. My only hope is that you get fed up and stop going to games so I don’t have to listen to you.

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