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David Hannant: The endless hunt for a scapegoat is really starting to get my goat

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:34 10 January 2019

Tim Krul of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ashton Gate, Bristol
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
14/12/2018

Tim Krul of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ashton Gate, Bristol Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 14/12/2018

Paul Chesterton

Social media has had a funny impact on the life of the every day football fan.

Dennis Srbeny of Norwich in action during the FA Cup match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
05/01/2019Dennis Srbeny of Norwich in action during the FA Cup match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 05/01/2019

The level of access we have to players is at an unprecedented level - those who opt into it anyway.

It also makes it far easier to see what fellow fans are thinking and - sadly - exposes a few of the more negative characteristics of the modern football fan.

From a certain perspective, it fuels debate, exposes you to different opinions and allows you to chat about your biggest passion with as many folk as possible - which is great.

But on the other hand, it also makes probably the worst trait Norwich City fans have all the more visible - scapegoatism.

Now I know this is nothing new and - to the best of my knowledge - predates social media. There was no Facebook or Twitter when Iwan Roberts was given the treatment in his first season.

However, it is just so much more visible nowadays, and not just to fellow fans.

For argument’s sake, once upon a time if two people are sat in the pub together having a little moan about a player, it would take a rather extraordinary set of circumstances for the player to hear of it.

However, with social media, the chances of the complaint getting back to the player are much higher. Now, I’m not saying players shouldn’t be open to scrutiny every now and then, but at the same time, we are supporters, it’s our job to support.

But it is not the scrutiny that gets my goat (sorry), it’s when one player is treated different to another and double standards kick in, which happens too often.

And while I’m sure it is the same whatever club you support, with Norwich City, fans always seem to be on the lookout for a scapegoat.

In years gone by several men have received this treatment - in fact there are too many to mention. Ricky van Wolfswinkel, the Murphy twins, Mark ‘Fozzy’ Fotheringham to name just a few.

Now, I’m starting to see whiffs of fans trying to scope out their next subject of disaffection.

Matt Jarvis has suffered a fair bit of unfair criticism for his injury record - he’s out on loan. James Husband has also had some of the treatment – also out on loan.

So who is next? While I can take a few guesses from things I’ve been reading, I’m instead going to just put my neck on the line and say exactly who it should be.

Absolutely. Blooming. Nobody.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen hints of a handful of names coming in for an unfair share of criticism.

The two that leap to mind straight away, funnily enough, are two players I actually rate rather highly, for different reasons.

The first is Tim Krul. The same Tim Krul who has kept clean sheets in almost a third of his games and has made countless important saves.

With no disrespect intended to Michael McGovern at all, the same Tim Krul who was noticeable in his absence in the cup defeat.

McGovern has it in him to make important saves as well, but without the towering Dutchman something felt missing. It’s plain to see how much organising and commanding of his box Krul does.

And he’s far more of a footballer than his number two, he is quicker to release the ball and far better with it at his feet.

Yet almost every week I see people suggesting he’s a liability (he isn’t) or that we need to replace him (we don’t) or that he costs us more points than he saves us (he doesn’t).

Every goalkeeper makes the odd mistake and sadly, they are far more noticeable than mistakes by anyone else, as invariably, they lead to conceding goals.

The second man I’m seeing come in for unfair stick is Dennis Srbeny, who I have genuinely been impressed with every time I’ve seen him play.

It can’t be easy to be a third choice striker, particularly given the fact that most teams only play with one up top these days.

So far this season, Srbeny has been limited to cup games and 10 minute cameos, so to judge him on his goalscoring record here isn’t fair. What it is fair to judge him on is attitude and work ethic.

Have you ever seen Dennis static, hands on hips? Me either.

Now ask yourself the same question about Nelson Oliveira.

On the few times Srbeny has been given a run out he’s looked keen, direct and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give the ball away.

So, in a nutshell, I see no reason for him to come in for stick either - we’ve barely seen him.

So, to cut a long rant short(ish) it wouldn’t be a bad new year’s resolution for any Norwich City fan to get behind everybody, focus on the positives and stop hunting for a scapegoat.

I’m constantly banging this drum, but, after all, we are supporters, so let’s support.

An alternative January shopping list

So with January upon us, of course everyone is thinking about shopping lists.

So what should Norwich City be looking to purchase in the January sales? I have a few ideas...

First, a load of arm bands. On Saturday, Christoph Zimmerman put in one of his finest shifts - particularly after donning the captain’s arm band following Grant Hanley’s dismissal. We’ve also seen Alex Tettey take his game to new levels when being given the arm band.

So, how about we stockpile them and give everyone an arm band to wear if they have that much of an impact?

Second, there’s no denying how great the flags look in the Barclay at kick off, so a few more of them too please.

Todd Cantwell was another standout performer against Pompey, fresh from the barber. So throw in some clippers and hedge trimmers to boot.

And last, and probably most importantly, a really nice pen, which can be forcefully thrust into the hand of Mr Farke. He may be relaxed about his contract situation, but I’m not.

FA Cup situation is a shame

And so another FA Cup campaign comes to an end for Norwich City.

It’s a shame, but not a great deal more.

It’s truly bizarre what the cup has become really, nothing but a foot note on a season.

It’s hard to pin point just one thing that has led to this, though Manchester United deciding to sack it off in 1999/2000 didn’t exactly help.

For me, that was the sliding doors moment. The sheer contempt shown for the competition, for me, was the tipping point. Since then it has dwindled and dwindled and dwindled - which is sad.

The indifference to the competition has spread like a disease - to the point where at 0-0 on 91 minutes, the 1-0 defeat was actual preferable t a draw and a replay.

I have a couple of ideas, which may not be popular.

First, let’s give teams a choice to opt out of replays - if and only if both teams agree.

Secondly, give big sides a decent reason to take it seriously - stop rewarding teams for not winning the league and put a Champions League spot up for grabs.

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