As you may have read, I watched the Liverpool game with some mates in The Ribs of Beef in Norwich on Friday night.
What I want to write about today regards my journey home and the conversations that I listened to on TalkSport in the car as I drove. I made a conscious decision not to listen to Canary Call on Radio Norfolk just because, well, I just couldn’t deal with it.
Naturally, I was as disappointed as anyone about losing, despite the opposition and the likelihood of suffering a loss from the moment that the Premier League fixtures were announced. I guess I just didn’t fancy listening to those who maybe a little more “down” than I was. All those doomsayers, you know what I mean, I’m sure.
Anyway, whether it was like that or not, I decided to listen to “Andy Goldstein’s Sports Bar”, a radio show that I used to regularly listen to on my way home from work in a previous job. I used to quite like it. Goldstein is usually quite affable and his co-host, Jason Cundy isn’t too bad either. It’s not the sensationalist stuff of the afternoon “Drive “ show, for example.
On this occasion though, I took exception to Goldstein’s assertion that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Having spent only just over one million pounds, Norwich don’t serve to stay up.” Cundy was a lot more positive with Goldstein later saying words to the effect of “If Norwich do stay up, then I’d go so far as to say it would be the greatest achievement in the history of the Premier League.”
What? Bigger than Leicester City winning it?
Don’t quite know how Norwich spend no money and expect to compete at this level…
— Andy Goldstein MBE (@andygoldstein05) August 9, 2019
Anyway, as has been a common theme this summer, pundits and fans of other clubs can’t get their heads around the fact that there might be another way of doing things.
This way of doing things, whereby our recruitment team have sourced top quality players for little or no money, saw us win the Sky Bet Championship last season and the club and the vast majority of our fanbase think that we already had a strong squad that only needed a bit of tweaking for the top flight.
So burnt have our fingers been, over our last few seasons in the Premier League, that we, the fans, are happy to let the lads that got us here have a go at keeping us up.
Goldstein cited last season when he spoke with Huddersfield fans who seemed to have a “we’re just happy to be here” mindset but I don’t think we are thinking like that at all are we?
I had a similar conversation with a couple of mates at work the other day, a Manchester City and a Manchester United fan who both laughed when they heard that Norwich had only spent £750k on permanent first-team players this summer (Sam Byram).
“Bless him, he thinks they’re going to stay up without spending any money,” one of them said.
They just don’t get it.
I can understand the mindset that those lads and Andy Goldstein and all those other pundits have because they’ve become used to the idea and practice that you have to spend big to buy quality. It’s a common idea in football with huge transfer fees becoming “normal.” So normal, in fact, that even average players, the sort not bought by top six Premier League sides, cost a fortune and that’s before you start talking salaries.
An example of that can be seen in our recent experience with Matt Jarvis.
Now, I liked Jarvis as a player when he was fit and firing for West Ham but that was the pinnacle of his career. He cost the Canaries a small fee of around £2.5m and then got injured, reportedly earning a salary in the region of £40k per week for almost the next three years.
He made just 14 appearances for City in those three years of his contract and after relegation, he became a big drain on City’s resources. I don’t blame Matt, he didn’t want to be injured and he wasn’t going to just tear up his contract, why would he? Would you? His recent TalkSport appearance in which he spoke about the depression he suffered that was associated with being injured all the time and never seemingly able to get fit, show how it affected him.
My point being that if you support Manchester United, like Andy Goldstein does, this sort of thing never crosses your radar. They currently have a player in Alexis Sanchez who is the highest paid player in the Premier League, on a reported £500k per week and yet, he doesn’t play. He has some “issues” but, United are never going to be relegated due to the vast resources available to them, so while a salary like Jarvis’ can cripple a club like Norwich if we are relegated, Sanchez’s weekly wage is just swallowed and accepted by United and their fans.
Sure, they’re probably not happy about it but it hasn’t remotely risked seeing their massive club having to sell off all their best assets in order to stave off a financial meltdown, has it?
I think that sometimes, fans and pundits just don’t get what the issues outside the Premier League are, or if they do, they quickly gloss over them.
I want you to play a little game with you.
Imagine that Emi Buendia, Teemu Pukki, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey, Mario Vrancic, Moritz Leitner, Onel Hernandez and Marco Steipermann didn’t play for Norwich last season.
Bear with me.
I want you to imagine that they all played for other clubs and last season, at those other clubs, they had seasons that were just as successful as they actually had for Norwich.
Now, I want you to imagine that Norwich bought them all this summer and I’m going to put a value on them, which is based on their lack of Premier League experience but their excellent showings for their imaginary clubs.
Here are the values Buendia: £20m, Pukki: £15m, Aarons: £15m, Lewis: £15m, Godfrey: £15m, Vrancic: £8m, Leitner: £8m, Hernandez: £8m, Stiepermann: £5m – Total: £109m.
I think those values are arguably a little conservative but I’m trying to be realistic. Now what would those pundits think if we’d bought them all and paid £109m?!
You just know that the pundits would be saying “Norwich have recruited well.”
Money talks, as Brian Johnson once sang, but it isn’t the be all and end all in football. Norwich City are trying to do things in a different way. It doesn’t mean that we lack ambition, it just means that firstly, we think that we already have good quality and secondly that we won’t risk the club (again) in order to stay up.
Ask any Norwich fan and they’ll tell you that we have quality in our team, I think that at Anfield on Friday night, most people could see that.
For the record, Jason Cundy’s opinion was that City look like they will have a good go at staying up, although he did point to some naiveite in the way they were so open at the back but going forward, we looked good.
It’s worth noting that Christoph Zimmermann, Timm Klose and Ibrahim Amadou are all yet to become available and when they do, things should tighten up.
It’s also worth noting that West Ham were drubbed 0-5 by Manchester City on Saturday and that they spent over £70m this summer, signing £45m Sebastien Haller (remember him?) amongst that large outlay. Losing 5-0 at home and spending £70m odd, does that mean they are likely to stay up or go down? By most pundits reckoning, Liverpool and Manchester City are the two best teams, by some distance, in the Premier League. Cundy said he thinks Liverpool will win it this season.
Had Norwich spent that fictional £109m and then gone down, where would they be if they didn’t then go straight back up? I’ll tell you, in another financial meltdown, much worse than they were before.
Would the likes of Andy Goldstein care though? Nope, it’d be off his radar, he’d then be questioning why the next promoted team hadn’t spent everything they don’t have on “having a go.”
Generally, Andy, I do like your show, honest 🙂
Have a great day, Y’all…