When is a fan not a fan?

I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. Nobody likes to hear that, but if I were to use a phrase to describe Norwich’s performance versus Liverpool it would be just that.

Individual mistakes are always costly, the better the team you are playing against, the more severe the punishment. Norwich made three mistakes that led directly to goals. For each goal Suarez produced an extraordinarily good finish, but on each occasion the chance was gifted to him, which is disappointing.

Perhaps the players are tired, maybe motivation is a problem now Premier League safety is assured for next season. If that is the case then again it’s disappointing. Norwich could actually still finish below Bolton, QPR, Wigan, Villa and Stoke. Were results to go against us in truly ridiculous fashion it would only be our goal difference keeping us out of the bottom three.

It’s been a fantastic season and baring some kind of horrendous misfortune Norwich should finish around about 14th which I’d have taken at the start of the season before you could have even asked me the question. So why, you may ask, am I upset by the Liverpool game? Why am I disappointed? Surely it’s acceptable that given the season Norwich have had for them to throw in a couple of no shows. You might be right, but…

At Anfield Norwich had so much to prove and put in a remarkable effort and performance to ensure a 1-1 draw and a good point. It meant a lot to the players, you could see playing at Anfield was a dream for some of them, who had grown up in the 80’s watching Liverpool dominate English football. The Liverpool team of now is not what it was then, but regardless of recent form they still represent a big scalp.

Holt celebrates scoring at Anfield

Liverpool’s league form recently has been poor. They have the F.A cup final coming up. They should not have enjoyed coming to Norwich, it should have been it difficult for them, it should have been unpleasant, it should have been a real test and it simply wasn’t. Norwich rolled over and gifted them the points. I don’t have a problem with Norwich losing as home to Liverpool, the quality of their players regardless of how they have performed for much of this season is still unquestionably better than Norwich’s.

What I do have a problem with is Norwich not getting stuck in, Norwich not attacking a team, Norwich looking passive and to a large extent like they were all already on holiday. Where was the feeling that encapsulated the early part of the season when an occasion like this clearly meant so much to the players? It seems that having got used to Premier League surroundings, the buzz and the effort in light of the fear of relegation being removed has also disappeared.

The fans can sense it, the fans can see when the players aren’t giving it everything and this isn’t going to make them happy. When you are honest and you give 100% then only idiots will complain, but that’s what the fans expect, nothing less.

Now I don’t mean that people should start turning round and booing and abusing players, because that isn’t necessary and doesn’t do anyone any favours. But being disappointed, being critical, especially on twitter doesn’t make you less of a fan. It doesn’t mean you are taking for granted what has gone before. I think it pretty much goes without saying that we’d all rather see Norwich in the Premier League than League One.

Away at Walsall in League One

However, the players have set their standards, they have raised expectations, we know what they are capable of so to some extent they have made a rod for their own backs. Individual mistakes are frustrating, but it wasn’t the errors that annoyed me as much as it was that Norwich really didn’t have a go. You can blame the formation, but Norwich lined up in similar fashion against Arsenal and that man Steve Morison grabbed the opening goal, it was the intent and the desire that was missing.

The spirit was lacking, that Norwich attitude of “we don’t care who you are, we’re going to have a go at you and try and win the game” that has shaped so much of our season was nowhere to be seen. Norwich sat back, Norwich let Liverpool play and then Norwich made mistakes to gift Liverpool goals having never put them under any pressure. Instead of being brave and trying to pass the ball Norwich often hoofed it away. Instead of hitting hard in tackles Norwich often pulled away. Pointing this out doesn’t make me less of a fan, I’m still sat here writing this drinking tea out of my Norwich City mug.

I always get worried when Grant Holt doesn’t start, but this is lessened if we’ve got Hoolahan in the team. When neither of them feature in the starting 11 Norwich always lack something. Both these players are full of industry. They lift the players around them, they lift the crowd, they press the ball, they get stuck in, they don’t give the opposition too much time or respect, they don’t stand off, they are leaders and that’s exactly what Norwich were lacking against Liverpool at home that defined our performance at Anfield.

Wes after helping secure a 1-1 at Anfield, perhaps his best performance of the season.

It’s a trip to Arsenal next and I’m hoping Norwich can produce a performance like we did at Spurs. Spurred on by that display and by the plush surroundings of one of the nicest grounds in the country. If we get beat? Fine, it’s Arsenal away, but please let’s not just roll over, let’s show some fight and make it so that their quality and not our own ineptitude wins them the game. Let’s value the occasion and make it a game to remember not treat it like an end of season warm down. Then we finish at home to Villa, who may need points to stay up, they will be fighting for everything and Norwich need to match them.

I don’t really get irritated by people moaning on twitter, it’s totally different to moaning at the game and far easier to ignore. What does annoy me are the people who moan about moaners on twitter. Irony aside, blandly accepting what is before you and not questioning it doesn’t make you more of a fan. Showing loyalty isn’t about always putting a smiley face on everything.

I’ll still support Norwich when I’m old and wrinkly, I’ll still support them if they drop to League Two. I’ll still wear my Norwich shirt and I’ll still tell anyone that will listen about my team. I’ll never be happy unless the team gives it their best, because as a fan, I think that’s what’s fair and reasonable to expect. Sometimes it’s not your day, sometimes mistakes happen and I can accept that. Expectations are hard to manage, some fans got upset when Norwich didn’t beat Fulham at home, Fulham with their many star names and internationals. I didn’t, because the team worked hard and plugged away trying to get an equaliser and when it came it was brilliant.


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