Fight to the end

T MINUS 24 hours and counting... The Man knows the game is close now because he has that nauseous feeling in the pit of his stomach. To say I would sell my soul to the devil in exchange for three points in this game would be an understatement.

T MINUS 24 hours and counting... The Man knows the game is close now because he has that nauseous feeling in the pit of his stomach.

To say I would sell my soul to the devil in exchange for three points in this game would be an understatement. I would chuck in the car keys, house, and iPod too.

The last two times we have played at That Place we have been absolutely terrible, so we can only hope Gunny at least gets a performance out of them tomorrow. Beyond that, well, we are in the lap of the gods and increasingly annoying referees.

The Man is still mildly irritated that we go to Smallville fighting to avoid League One again; it really just seems a bit absurd.

You looked around Carrow Road before kick off against Watford, and you know in your heart that this club deserves better.

Not in a Newcastle “aren't we great fans” kind of way, but just in a logical “how the hell are we below Plymouth and Blackpool again?” kind of way. For all those going tomorrow, and of course The Man is in your ranks, sing your hearts out. Even if we go a goal or two behind let's stick behind our team and get bang up for it. If we are going to go down - pray let it not be so - let's go down fighting.

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Lee says all the right things

When he has finished playing football, The Man thinks Alan Lee could easily go into PR.

Rarely has a player shown such a masterful touch in winning over the fans with off-field comments, as well as on-field performances.

This week's efforts - silver-tongued Lee described himself as the “proudest man in East Anglia” and said our support “sent a shiver down his spine” - were the sort of stuff we just lap up. As The Man stated previously, he did not have to win me over in the first place as I have always liked him as a player.

And I do not wish to get overly emotional too soon, but there's almost something in the way Lee runs that evokes memories of the blessed Iwan. It's a bit like push-starting a Ford Escort, a bit of a pain to get moving, but when he gets going he can fair pelt along. Have we found a new cult hero in waiting? Tomorrow should give us a few clues… OTBC

What next for Sheepshanks?

AN interesting departure was announced at the **** last week.

Ipswich chief executive Derek Bowden revealed he was leaving the club. New owner Marcus Evans wished him all the best with the “other opportunities” he was leaving to pursue, in typical NuLabour-speak. The local papers, perhaps more accurately, have termed it a “reluctant” departure.

David Sheepshanks, the ****'s ceremonial head, then came out and denied - for now - rumours that he was on his way out too.

The exit door for Sheepy would of course lead to the loss of his beloved FA role…heaven forbid.

The irony for Bowden and Sheepy is that they were the ones who spent years seeking out the new investment (Evans) that rescued the club from financial oblivion.

But new money normally means new people, however the subsequent departures are spun in the press.

It occurred to The Man what is being played out down the A140 might explain why our own search for the new money we have desperately needed for the past five years might not have been as enthusiastic as some of us would have liked… Just a thought.

What a farce!

THE 606 phone-in after the Watford game was a hoot.

The poor old Beeb was left befuddled by a solely Football League fixture list, and wheeled out some bloke called Mark “Chappers (sic)” Chapman and pundit Gabrielle Marcotti to try and navigate the non-Premiership minefield.

Chappers was deemed to be in the know because he had once been to a Blue Square Premier game, so was down with us strange Football League kids, despite being a Man U fan. And Marcotti, presumably, because there was no-one else about. In fact, The Man doesn't mind Marcotti, it just boils down to whether you like listening to an Italian talk about English football with an American accent.

The Man listened to the pair fumble through the calls, the only time they were able to offer any insight on affairs was when a fan of a recently-relegated club rang up: “So which one of the Hunt brothers scored for Reading?” asked Marcotti, with feigned interest.

Without Rafa's tedious rants to talk about, or Ronaldo, the pair were utterly lost. It was like listening to awkward conversation at a dinner party.

“So, what do you do?” “I support Bury” “Oh…erm…you watching the Champions League this week?”

Why on the earth the Beeb, with its bloated resources and thousands of staff, can't even muster people who know about the Football League is beyond me.

The Man felt like ringing up and just blowing a huge raspberry down the phone.

Norwich worthy of Wembley

FORGIVE me if this seems a little crass, but the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster led The Man this week to contemplate our own semi-final with Everton that day.

I wonder whether the same thought - however briefly - also went through Ian Crook's head too? To this day the mystery of why he decided to chip (yes chip…) Bryan Gunn and provide Pat Nevin with an eventual tap-in remains.

The Man can still see the incident, etched as clear as day in his mind. It was so surreal; an utter moment of madness. My blow up Canary pretty much wilted on the Villa Park spot. Whether we will ever get that close to a FA Cup final again remains to be seen, but it was a genuine shame that Norwich side never got its day in the Wembley sun.