David Powles: Who's to blame for shambles?

PUBLISHED: 13:58 20 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 10 September 2010

David Powles

There have been many low points watching the Canaries over the past 25 years, but none left me feeling quite as sad as the events of last week. Our spectacular fall from grace following the heady days of European football, the anti-Robert Chase demonstrations that followed, a penalty defeat to Birmingham in the play-off final and the 6-0 drubbing to Fulham which sent us out of the Premier League - all these pale into insignificance compared to recent events.

There have been many low points watching the Canaries over the past 25 years, but none left me feeling quite as sad as the events of last week. Our spectacular fall from grace following the heady days of European football, the anti-Robert Chase demonstrations that followed, a penalty defeat to Birmingham in the play-off final and the 6-0 drubbing to Fulham which sent us out of the Premier League - all these pale into insignificance compared to recent events.

Even last May's capitulation at Charlton Athletic, which finally condemned us to Division One, didn't have me feeling quite as low about my beloved Norwich City Football Club as the events which happened last week.

And I'm not just talking about the embarrassing 7-1 defeat at home to Colchester United or the horrible scenes which followed the fourth goal when two fans ran on to the pitch to show their disgust. While that was bad enough, to my mind it was the events that followed which highlighted just how much of a shambles our club has become.

I'll be honest, in this very column I backed Bryan Gunn's permanent appointment last May, wanting him to be given a chance to bring in his own squad and get us back out of this division.

In fact just two weeks ago I wrote of the feeling of optimism there suddenly appeared to be. The signings looked promising, as did the signs. Boy, how foolish do I feel now?

Even after the drubbing I'll admit to still wanting Gunn to be given another chance to prove that this was one of those freak results that sometimes you just can't explain and this feeling was strengthened by the 4-0 victory against Yeovil.

Maybe in hindsight I was wrong, maybe I had been blinded by my respect for him as a Norwich legend when in reality he wasn't up for the task.

Maybe the board were right to sack him.

But it isn't necessarily the decision to get rid of Gunn that has made me feel just about as fed up as I have ever been about the Canaries, it is the way in which it was so badly managed.

I know, as I'm sure did Gunn when he took the job, that football is a dog-eat-dog business and, as pointed out by our very own chief executive David McNally, purely results driven. But to go from publicly backing your manager in front of fans on the Monday, to sacking him on the eve of a game just four days later, and after a 4-0 victory, just reeks of the type of mismanagement that appears to have become endemic at Carrow Road in recent years.

Thank heavens for Newcastle United, because if it wasn't for them we truly would rank as the laughing stock of English football.

And I'll be honest, while I felt our new chief executive could have handled the whole affair much, much better, it is not him I blame for the latest shambles. The buck must stop with those people who have been running the club for the last few years, majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones.

I have never doubted their passion for the club and I have been and will always be grateful for the time, effort and money they have put in. I don't doubt their intentions to solely want to see Norwich City succeed.

But in recent years the club has simply lurched from one crisis to the next. Bad decisions have been followed by even worse decisions to try and put things right and subsequently we have ended up where we are now.

I can only imagine the millions that have been squandered paying off managers who were not right for the job. First Nigel Worthington was kept on too long, then Peter Grant was found to be woefully out of his depth and we all know how wrong Glenn Roeder was for the job. And while it may not necessarily be the appointment of Gunn that I was against, how ridiculous is it to give him the job full-time in May, just a month before bringing in a new chief executive who so obviously had no faith in his ability?

Is it too much to expect the appointment of McNally was planned enough in advance to ensure he got a say on who the permanent manager was?

Now we are simply left with a shell-shocked squad of players who won't have a clue if they have a future at their new club, despite appearing in just a handful of games, and presumably the majority of cash we managed to store up pre-season through the sale of a few stars and the season ticket rebate saga has now been spent? So what can be done to put this whole shambles right?

I'll be honest, for the first time in my Norwich City-loving life I have fallen out of love with the club, and I'm sure I am not alone.

All of the wrong-doings, mistakes, mixed messages, have finally culminated to make me thoroughly, thoroughly fed up.

In recent years I have put up with our fall from grace. Games, players, managers and seasons have come and gone yet I, and thousands more, have still paid for my season ticket, turned up week in, week out and done my best to get behind the team.

I even waived my season ticket rebate, hoping it would be used for the good of the club.

But now it is time for our loyal fans to get something in return - we deserve some payback.

And hopefully the club has started by getting the latest managerial appointment right.

This time we truly cannot afford to allow someone to spend thousands on building his team, only for it to last little more than a year, or even just a few weeks.

On the whole I'm pretty pleased with the appointment of Paul Lambert, an apparently hungry manager who has a decent track record and obviously wants to be here - however he and the board are under instant pressure for results to improve. But for me putting this debacle right doesn't just stop with the new managerial appointment.

For too long now it feels like this club has been allowed to drift along without any plan in place to stop the rot. Our 'follow the Charlton Athletic ethos' of the past might have proven to be horribly apt, but at least it shows that there was once a plan in place.

Whether it be the sole work of our new chief and manager or a combination of the whole of the board, I want to know what the plan is to put this right.

What are our goals for the next five or 10 seasons and how will we achieve them? It's time for someone to stick their head above the parapet and explain in depth how we will get out of this mess.

For too long City fans have been left out of the loop, treated like second-class citizens expected to turn up week in, week out and put up with whatever has gone on in front of them. But now our patience is being pushed to the limit.

Put quite simply, things have got to change.

Become a supporter

This newspaper company has followed Norwich City through good times and bad. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce in depth coverage that makes a measurable difference to our community. OTBC

Norwich City Video

Norwich City Audio

Norwich City Stats

The Pink Un magazine

cover
A must-read for any Norwich City fan with in-depth, straight-talking, analysis from the best writers around.
Purchase

Latest from the Pink Un - Norwich City Football Club News