To get you juiced up for Tuesday’s clash in Norfolk, we got a hold of Steven Gitsham of London Supporters Group, Capital Canaries. This was thanks to good mate of TF, Delfy, for the nod in Gitsh’s direction. Cheers Delf! Anyway, another excellent read to add to our collection.
TF: In the past 2 months, Norwich City appears to becoming more difficult to beat, while not going on a convincing run. Fair comment?
Gitsh: We’re hard to beat for the lesser teams in the Premier League but we struggle to win games as well. Drawing at home to Cardiff and Swansea losing to Fulham and edging out Palace and Hull 1-0 doesn’t fill you with confidence. The only convincing win we’ve had was 3-1 against West Ham. Even in that game we were dreadful for the first 45 minutes.
TF: I detect a bit of dissent in some quarters with Chris Hughton unable to take Norwich much further forward than lower mid table survivors. What’s your opinion on Hughton?
Gitsh: Realistically lower mid table survivors is where we’re at and where we should expect to be. Expectations were raised in the summer after spending £26m but this was on the back of not spending much the previous two seasons. OK £26m is a lot of money for a club like Norwich but everyone else spends big or can pay big wages. Cardiff spent £8m on a centre half in Caulker and they’re bottom of the league. All the clubs have richer owners than ours except for perhaps Swansea. The frustration with Hughton is his conservative tactics and his in-game management. He seems terrified of losing and unwilling to change things to go for the win. Keep things tight and hope we knick a goal seem to be the theme. This style of football can often be dull to watch due to his reluctance to commit players forward. This is in stark contrast to the three seasons we had under Paul Lambert who always went for the win no matter who the opposition was.
TF: How much of a disappointment was the FA cup exit to a Fulham side in a worse position than yourselves?
Gitsh: Massive disappointment. But then the FA cup as a whole is disappointing nowadays with teams fielding weaker teams because of important league games the following week. All clubs care about is getting into the PL, staying in the PL or qualifying for the Champions league. The media still go on about ‘The magic of the Cup’ but it’s gone. Just look at the attendances for FA cup matches these days -way down. If you look in the history books nearly all club’s record attendances were in the FA cup. Fans aren’t daft. After paying a fortune for your season ticket people are reluctant to pay out again to watch the reserves in a competition the manager could do without. For me they’ve got to give the FA cup winners the 4th Champions league place then clubs would take it more seriously and it would give teams like Norwich a chance of mixing it with the best in Europe again like we did in 1993 after finishing 3rd in the PL.
TF: Bar Gary Hooper having a measured impact, goals are thin on the ground. Is there enough threat in the team to prevent being drawn into a relegation fight?
Gitsh: We’ve got some good attacking players in Hooper, Van Wolfswinkle, Redmond, Pilkington, Hoolahan and Fer. It all comes down to how Hughton deploys them which is the frustrating thing. If we had a more attack minded manager then I think we would find goals easier to come by. This is the worry for the fans do we stick with Hughton and hope it comes good or gamble on replacing him with another manager who is more likely to go for it?
TF: Jonas Gutierrez will always be thought of highly in NE1 as a hard worker and all round decent bloke. What can he add to City?
Gitsh: Hopefully a bit of experience and quality as Redmond has done well since his summer move from Birmingham but his final ball sometimes lets him down. Murphy like Redmond is still a teenager and an exciting prospect and Pilkington is always injured. However he’ll never get in ahead of Snodgrass – Teacher’s pet!
TF: I can’t remember the last time there was controversy or crisis at NCFC. Are Norwich, after recovering from two relegations a model for stability, or is that something holding back the club?
Gitsh: Getting relegated to League One in 2009 was a pretty decent crisis. The lowest point we’ve been for over 50 years. At the time I feared the worse. Clubs like Portsmouth and Coventry don’t look like coming back any time soon and Leeds are yet to make a return to the PL. The difference between the above clubs and NCFC is the sound financial footing the club are now on largely thanks to Delia pumping in £15 million since she became majority shareholder in 1996 after the controversial reign of ex-chairman Robert Chase. During the last days of the Chase era Riot police and Horses were deployed on Carrow Road during the ‘Chase Out’ demonstrations. Today the club is debt free and foreign owner free. The ground is still called Carrow road, we are still called Norwich City and we still play in Yellow and Green. So from that point of view we are stable. Unless we get a mega rich owner we’re never going to be able to compete at the top end. The size of the ground is the major thing holding us back. The board have said that any spare money they have is going to go on improving the squad before the ground is redeveloped. Currently Carrow Road holds 27,000, has a season ticket waiting list and is full to 99.3 % capacity every week. So demand for a bigger ground is there. If we can establish ourselves over the next few years there are plans to increase the capacity to 35,000 which I feel would be about right for a club like ours
TF: What does a successful NCFC look like to you?
Gitsh: Top ten in the PL and regularly getting to the latter stages of the cup competitions.
TF: Do you think rail seating and safe standing would add to the atmosphere at Carrow Road?
Gitsh: It depends. I think the reason why atmospheres were better years ago was because if a group of you decided to go to a match in the morning you could do so and all stand together. Nowadays in the era of season tickets it’s impossible for a group of young lads to go to the match and sit together in the fashionable part of the ground. We sold out our allocation for the FA cup match at Peterborough last season in minutes as it was a chance to go to the match with 20 of your mates and know that you’re going to be next to each other, have a laugh and relive a bit of nostalgia. I do think standing would improve the atmosphere but I can’t see it happening. Are clubs going to spend money on converting the stadia to then charge less? If you had a reserved spot to stand in and a rail I can’t see it making too much difference. People stand in front of their seats nowadays any way. One of my mates is a vertically challenged so I know it wouldn’t be too popular with Him!
TF: Since Norwich’s return to the PL, NUFC have struggled at Carrow Road. Do teams find CR a difficult place to come to. Tight ground, hard team to beat etc?
Gitsh: They seem to. Probably because we’re so far away! Teams are knackered time they get off the coach!
TF: How active are the Capital Canaries, who you are involved with. What’s the comparison with other London supporters club?
Gitsh: Capital Canaries organise discounted train travel to all NCFC games home and away, have regular social events and good links with the football club. NCFC Chief executive David McNally attended the last AGM. They also produce a regular magazine. For more info check out capitalcanaries.co.uk
TF: What’s your outlook for NUFC this season? What do you see as our strengths and weaknesses?
Gitsh: I think you’ll finish where you are now. It’s a shame you went out of the Cup to Cardiff as it was a great chance of you getting some silverware especially as you would have had Wigan at home in the next round. I think you’ve got quality going forward. Remy and Cabaye catch the eye and it looks as if you played well at West ham the other week. As a weakness I’m hoping on Tuesday night the French lads don’t fancy a cold wet night in the Far East of England!
TF: Result prediction?
Many thanks to Gitsh for his time!