I hope Roy and friends have magic answer

PUBLISHED: 13:10 01 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:14 14 September 2010

I've no idea what format Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association have in mind for tomorrow night's public meeting at St Andrew's Hall.

Championship Chat by Rick Waghorn

I've no idea what format Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association have in mind for tomorrow night's public meeting at St Andrew's Hall.

I guess there will be a series of speeches. I guess there will be various votes put to the floor. I guess, when the fire and the fury abates, a set of proposals will emerge.

That, at least, appears to be Roy Blower's intention.

“What we are trying to find out is what the right course of action is that will make everybody happy, without inflicting any damage on the football club,” said the NCISA chairman last week.

“I am hopeful that by talking we can come up with some suggestions about the best way forward.”

He was also of the opinion that something was “fundamentally wrong” at the football club.

For me, there's nothing “fundamentally wrong” with the football club. There's something “fundamentally wrong” at clubs like Southampton where the chairman wanders around the training ground with his own monogrammed tracksuit and appoints a rugby coach as director of football. There's something “fundamentally wrong” at clubs like Newcastle United where 55,000-odd Geordies pack St James' Park year after year, while year after year the dazzling team of stars arrayed in front of them fails to produce the single piece of silverware their unstinting support deserves.

The only thing that's “fundamentally wrong” with Norwich City Football Club right now is that a lot of people don't rate the manager. And that's not something being “fundamentally wrong” - that's just football. Even that tends to change game by game. And, besides, what is “a lot”? A vocal minority? Or a silent majority?

Certainly some people never wanted Nigel Worthington in the first place. Others have never forgiven him for his substitutions at Cardiff. Some found Fulham away the final straw. Others decided that this summer's transfer arrivals were it.

Each and every one of them is more than entitled to hold his or her opinions. Each and every one of them can make a good case for the manager and his supporters to answer. Again, for me, that's not something being “fundamentally wrong” with Norwich City Football Club, that's just football.

People pay their money, watch the games, listen to their radios, read their papers and they make their own minds up - each and every person has a right to hold a certain opinion.

As has the board - as has the dressing room. For as much as you can ever second-guess anyone in football, if you re-read Barry Skipper's words on Saturday, his opinions appear to be clear - that as far as Worthington's future is concerned, the board had a detailed discussion in January, came to their own opinion and will, in every likelihood, give him until the autumn to prove that he knows which way he's going.

As for the dressing room, their opinions matter. Travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday and you could easily conclude that they were voting with their feet. Speak to the players afterwards and, even now, there's no real sense of tools down for the gaffer. They too, you sense, are looking to the autumn.

Me? Well, if you haven't worked it out by now, football reporters play the whore in all this. We stick close to the people who give you the decent stories, the ones who provide the back page leads, those with some idea of the truth. Whether Leon McKenzie is in Hellesdon Hospital or not. And you play that game right up until the moment you get the silent nod from either the dressing room or the boardroom, invariably both. At that point, it's time to do the “Et tu, Bruté?” bit and stab the bloke in the back. Then it's simply a question of minding your Ps and Qs with the next luckless soul to sit on the hot seat and away we go again.

The king will die, long live the next king. Those are the rules of the game. Managers know it and most supporters know it. That's football. That's football reporting.

What is interesting is where tomorrow's meeting actually takes us. People don't like the manager. Fine. I guess that will be the number one proposal to emerge: “We want the manager sacked!”

And the board will say: “Well, we've decided to give him until the autumn . . .” And NCISA, and whoever, will say: “No, we want him sacked . . .” And the board will say: “No, we've decided to give him until the autumn . . .”

At which point, something has to give. Either the board says: “OK, you're quite right. Now who do you want to replace him . . ?” or else NCISA and friends say: “Right, if you don't sack him we're going to . . .”

Which is the crux of the matter for tomorrow night's meeting. Do what exactly?

Where's the best way forward, that certain something “that will make everybody happy, without inflicting any damage on the football club.”

I don't know the answer. Protests will be one idea - be it before, during or after the forthcoming home games. Then you go back down the route of the poisonous atmosphere that surrounded the Brighton game and, once the team won, turned fan against fan, fan against player, player against fan, fan against manager, fan against board. And besides, do the Jarrold Stand and the Norwich & Peterborough family enclosure do protests? Not when they've got the kids in tow. Not when they've got supper for friends to cook in the evening. To coin a phrase, do they look “bovvered”?

Season ticket boycotts? I'm guessing slightly, but I suspect that 10 years on, those boys who fought a very fair and reasonable fight in 1996 to see out the deeply-flawed - indeed, “fundamentally wrong” - regime of Robert Chase, are now probably thirtysomething dads looking to find ways and means to get a season-ticket in the Barclay for their six-year-old kids.

Besides, they've been around the block long enough to know that Norwich's fortunes ebb and flow with the years. Managers come and go. Duff players come and go. It's just part of Canary life. This season has been awful. Next season might be slightly better. They'll still be there on August 5, when, as ever, City will aim to finish somewhere in the B-tier of English football - top ten Championship, bottom ten Premiership. Just as long as that involves being above you-know-who. A good cup run - that would be nice.

How about a prominent fan to sit on the board, to make sure that nothing “fundamentally” evil is afoot? And the board will say: “Well, actually, we already have Canary roadshows, supporters' consultative groups, so, er, no . . .”

Right now - and perhaps forever, amen - a certain number of people don't like the manager. Fine. Now sort out what you're going to do about it “without inflicting any damage on the football club”.

That's the task Roy has given himself as NCISA and tomorrow night's public meeting prepare to plot “the best way forward” for the Canaries.

I don't know the answer. Hopefully, Roy and friends do.

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