Gunn deserves much praise for man management
PUBLISHED: 11:07 19 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:08 10 September 2010
With the relegation rollercoaster working overtime over the past few weeks it has been hard to make a reasoned judgement on the job done so far by Bryan Gunn.
It's that time of year again when Norwich City fans are asked to nominate their player of the season.
And with a staggering 32 players used by the Canaries so far you would be forgiven for thinking we were spoilt for choice.
However, after such a torrid season there can only be a handful of players who deserve to have their names imprinted alongside the heroes of the club's past.
And at a time when our immediate future is so unclear it is even harder to single someone out for special recognition.
What's for sure is that you certainly wouldn't fancy being the recipient of the trophy at the home game against Reading should we, by then, be looking likely to end up in League One.
It must be embarrassing enough for those given man of the match awards following defeats to have to smile for the camera afterwards, never mind being named the best of a bunch who have single-handedly contributed to one of our worst seasons in recent history.
Perhaps the club should consider that if we do get relegated, the player of the season award goes to the fans - as a reward for the fact that they turn up week in, week out, no matter how bad things have become.
However, as I have said all along, I don't think it will come to this, as I still believe that we will do enough to avoid the disaster of relegation.
A win this weekend against Sheffield Wednesday and another on Easter Monday at home to Watford will hopefully ensure that by the final home game of the season we will be much happier about the club's immediate future.
When choosing a player of the year I always think it has to be someone who has played an important role throughout.
For instance, Leroy Lita may have made a great impression and secured some vital points with his seven goals in 16 appearances, but for me that's not quite enough.
Of the 32, I would argue you can instantly rule out 20, namely those who have played fewer than 20 league games.
From this dozen I would also rule out Omozusi, Fotheringham, Cureton and Pattison, whose impact during the key final third of the season has been minimal or non-existent.
For me, Bertrand, Russell, and Otsemobor have all played well at times - but have not really been as consistent as you would have hoped.
That leaves just real five possibilities then, namely Marshall, Doherty, Clingan, Hoolahan and Croft.
Marshall, while enjoying flashes of brilliance, has also endured too many moments of madness. You get the sense that if he could just rid the errors from his game he could easily go on to be a Premiership 'keeper.
Hoolahan has looked like a genius at times, but not quite often enough, though I still believe he has the potential to go on to be a real fans' favourite.
And while Croft had a great first half of the season, he has faded of late.
That leaves just previous winner The Doc and Sammy Clingan.
And while our own Ginger Pele has been something of a revelation of late, forming a formidable partnership with the returning Shackell, my cross will be going alongside the name of our Northern Ireland midfielder.
For me this man is Premiership class. Despite the many disappointments this season, you can probably count his poor games on one hand.
He runs his heart out, tackles hard and he can pass, too.
It is no wonder he caught the attention of an admiring Fulham during the previous transfer window. Obviously finances might dictate otherwise, but without wanting too put too much pressure on a relatively young player, I would like to see Norwich's team built around him over the next few seasons.
To my mind he is a captain of the future and if we can find a way of keeping the admirers at bay, while at the same time bringing in some cash from another source, the future won't look quite so grim.