Patience

What do we want? We don't know! When do we want it? NOW. Clare Thomas has a in-depth look at the impatient monsters we are turning into in all forms of life including football. Alright! Alright!! Here's the piece. God.

I had a glorious golden yellow autograph book when I was young. Aside from the usual collection of Norwich City players, my most prized signatures were those of Lenny Henry, the bloke that played Darth Vader and Helen McDermott from Anglia News. Yet, out of the entire collection, the one that most sticks in my mind was my grandmother’s. I pestered her for hours to add her signature, much to her annoyance. So, alongside her scribble, she wrote a pertinent proverb. 

‘Patience is a virtue’.

A pearl of wisdom that my ten year old self, struggled to comprehend. As I grew into adulthood, I learned to appreciate the beauty of it. Now I find myself mourning its demise, for it seems, in our 24/7 society, that virtue is rapidly disappearing. There certainly isn’t much evidence of it in the football world. Six managers sacked in the Championship already; a quarter before we even reached November. Spurs fans questioning Pochettino after a poor run, despite remaining just five points from top spot. Suggestions that The Special One should Do One after only four months in charge of Manchester United. The list goes on. And on.

The opinions surrounding Norwich’s recent dip in form have only served to enhance this belief. I'm not suggesting that many of the concerns and criticism projected towards them are unjustified. The performance at Brighton was inexcusable. Every negative adjective under the sun has been thrown at it, and rightfully so. Defeats since have done little to appease things, but the fact remains, a matter of weeks ago that same team had won seven out of eight and were topping the table.

To the outside world looking in, everything seemed pretty rosy in the Garden of Carrow. And largely it was. We on the inside looking out had niggling concerns, particularly about our defensive frailties, but for the most part we were content. Who isn’t when you are winning? Yet in the post Brighton fall out, even the most positive of fans appeared to turn. Patience had suddenly run out. People wanted change, and the overwhelming solution appeared to be removing the manager. A manager that only a few weeks prior won Manager of the Month. A manager with one of the most outstanding win rates the Championship has ever seen. A manager that masterminded an incredible five month promotion campaign, culminating in the ‘perfect’ performance on the biggest stage.  OK, things didn’t always go to plan in the Premier League but it was a steep learning curve for a young manager with a poor squad. When you stare at the cold hard facts for a moment, it seems absurd to doubt his tenure because of four poor weeks.

The question is whether this lack of patience is wholly justified, or are we all just becoming products of the digital age? Remember those days when you couldn't remember something and you had look it up in an encyclopedia or just simply wait until it came to you? Bygone days. The words 'it's on the tip of my tongue' have been replaced by 'I'll Google it'. Instant answers, instant knowledge, all at the end of our fingertips.  We reach for our phones hundreds of times a day wanting to know what's going on in the world. News stories reach us within minutes. Songs, films, books. A press of a button away. This instant gratification is creeping into every sphere of our lives. We don't have to wait for anything anymore. Not even Christmas; it seems to start earlier every year. Soon enough we might as well not even bother to pack the decorations away. Hell let's have Christmas all year round. You can never tire of Mariah and Slade. 

The consequences of the ‘on demand’ culture are filtering down into our football psyche, further compounded by a belief that we must comment and have strong opinion on everything.  As much some love social media, it is the root cause. It gives us all a voice, and in turn we become engulfed by those of others. And when many of those voices are negative, it’s very easy to get swept up in the storm. Rational thinking seems to be replaced by a sea of knee-jerk reactions and suddenly it seems everyone has the same opinion. Time was you left the game, dissected it in the pub, went home and forgot about it until next Saturday. Those days are very much over. Now the conversations never stop. The opinions are incessant, and become a breeding ground for the impatient. 

Time is a now a luxury rarely afforded in football. If managers are not miracle workers within months then patience runs out. Ironically our manager did work miracles in months. Perhaps by doing so he has made his job more difficult; Alex Neil circa May 2015 is a tough act to follow. Yet shouldn’t it also allow him the right to a little more time? This is the first real test of his career, and he deserves a chance to turn it around. Yes we have issues, but there are not many teams that don’t. Perfection in football doesn’t exist; we are all just fighting to get somewhere close. If we fall short at times, rather than jumping on the latest bandwagon, it may be worth blocking out all the noise and trying to remember my grandmother’s advice. Let’s hold onto the virtue of patience before it disappears forever. 

For the time being at least….