I can't desert City in their hour of need

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 10 September 2010

The Man In The Stands

I have a confession to make, The Man was not supposed to be In The Stands today.

This weekend had in fact been ear-marked to be spent with my better, non-football-loving half.

I have a confession to make, The Man was not supposed to be In The Stands today.

This weekend had in fact been ear-marked to be spent with my better, non-football-loving half.

Windy walks, shopping, that sort of thing.

When it was organised many weeks ago, the prospect of missing a home game against Burnley did not trouble me to any great degree.

The Man felt another likely defeat to a team from a grubby post-industrial northern slum was something he could do without for once.

Alas, it was not to be.

As the results of the past week filtered through, it quickly become apparent that today's game was heading for make-or break territory. Make-or- completely-stuffed in fact.

With this in mind, I sat down with Miss The Man, who knows even less about football than a female Setanta Sports News presenter, to explain that 'our' weekend was, in part, off.

I loaded up a version of the most recent Championship table on the internet and tried to explain the severity of our situation. Norwich versus Burnley wasn't just “any other game”.

“Yeah, yeah - you always say that. It's the most important game until then next one!”

She kind of had me on that; and as the atmosphere between us deteriorated, there was really no option left for me but to put my heart on the line.

“Look. You see that league table? You see how close we are to relegation?

“Well, if we finish in the bottom three we have had it, and I'll be, well, I'll be absolutely heart-broken.

“I've been going since I was this (hand gesture) tall and it means a lot to me. I just can't be out shopping when the club's fighting to survive.”

That's right folks, I actually used the expression “heartbroken”.

I meant it too, but what a pathetic creature I am? I had jumped the shark.

The only solace The Man could take is that he knows he is not alone - this conversation is sure to be replicated throughout Norwich fans' living rooms between now and the end of the season. Oh, for the relative indifference of mid-table obscurity.

The Man explained that if he hadn't have been able to go to the game today, it would have felt like not visiting a dying relative when they only had 24 hours to live.

Better still, like not giving blood to someone who needed a transfusion on their death bed.

The Man could live with relegation from the top flight, but the prospect of League One is so vile that I can't promise that if it happened I wouldn't slump into a melancholy football coma, from which I would never return.

Even tapes of Darren Huckerby's voice wouldn't wake me from it.

I could see in her eyes the total despair at being with someone whose happiness is so entwined with how 11 slightly useless footballers get on a Saturday afternoon, or Tuesday night.

And part of me feels that despair too. I wonder whether the players care as much, and whether I'm just being a mug. I suppose I know the answer…but I'd rather not acknowledge it. If I could take a pill to get rid of this attachment I would. Maybe.

As I struggled to justify my stance, all I could say was that I felt like I needed to at Carrow Road. I needed to support the team in its hour-and-a-half of need.

“Fine - you go. But you know they'll lose anyway,” she eventually conceded.

“They're crap,” she added. Tell me something I don't know…

Maybe we lost today, maybe we didn't.

But I could not let my club go down without at least turning up and giving them my support, The Man is sure thousands of other fans felt the same, and many will have made far greater sacrifices to have been there today.

So if there is one minor solace we can cling to in an era when “modern football” is often criticised for the disenfranchisement of supporters, it is that our club actually needs us more than ever.

We are not just bums on armchairs in front of TV screens.

We can help this team; whether it will be enough remains to be seen. OTBC. FAO Miss The Man - thanks.

ROEDER'S SILENCE IS A BIT OF A PUZZLE

A few fans have mused upon the fact there has been no “exit interview” in the Press with Glenn Roeder since his sacking last month.

Some supporters expected the occasionally acid-tongued Roeder to be quick to fight his corner, especially following his doomed “last man standing” speech.

The more extreme elements within our support have even speculated that Roeder is subject to a “gagging order” implemented by the club to avoid any negative headlines.

I have no idea as to whether the latter is true.

However, The Man's man on the Archant sportsdesk reliably informs him that it could boil down to the fact that reporters were never allowed to have Roeder's contact details - ie his mobile phone number - which is unheard of when it comes to Norwich City managers.

Of course reporters could still chase him for comments now, but it just goes to compound The Man's belief that it was as much bad PR as bad results that did for Roeder.

I can understand why after having managed the twin lunacies of Newcastle and West Ham he might not have trusted the Press, but not giving your local hack your mobile number is not a good way to make friends.

And a football manager needs friends, not just in high places.

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