Let's do it for Dion
Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder escaped the wrath of Norwich City fans last night when he insisted the Canaries will escape relegation - and do it for veteran striker Dion Dublin.
Glenn Roeder escaped the wrath of Norwich City fans last night when he insisted the Canaries will escape relegation - and do it for veteran striker Dion Dublin.
The 38-year-old is counting down the games before he retires in the summer after two decades in the game, and Roeder told a packed fans' forum at Carrow Road that he had ordered his players at a meeting yesterday morning not to allow a distinguished career to end on the lowest of low notes.
“I said to them, 'look at him sitting there. He is 38 years old, he's had a fantastic career, his career is over in six weeks time. We are not as a group of players and a staff going to let him leave the game' - I don't want to even talk about it,” said Roeder. “You know where I am coming from - we are not going to let that happen to Dion.”
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Having led City through a 13-match unbeaten run, Roeder has watched the Canaries slip back into the murky waters just above the relegation zone after a run of just one win in the last seven games.
However, he believes he has seen signs of a recovery - and his jovial manner last night disarmed a crowd which fell short of giving him the third degree which many expected.
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Roeder's rallying cry was well received, with a healthy ovation after a question and answer session lasting around an hour, during which time he tackled subjects ranging from loan players and the academy to his psychological make-up and, hardly surprisingly, Darren Huckerby.
But it was Roeder's insistence that the final seven games of the season will see City survive that many wanted to hear.
“It is so important that we get this job done,” he said. “We had a meeting for about an hour today in the dressing room and I said, 'lads, six weeks ago it was like we picked up great big hand of sand up from the beach - and you are starting to let the sand slip through your fingers and we have to close our fingers again bloody quick here.
“Surely to God after what we have come through together we are not going to do anything daft now - which we are not.”
Roeder has already prepared fans for major surgery during the summer, but says it could take more than just the coming pre-season to assemble a squad good enough to challenge for promotion - and he insisted he had the full backing of the club's board of directors.
“I haven't seen anything or heard anything to be majorly worried about bringing in new players in the summer, which we undoubtedly have to,” he said.
“It is not going to be one, two, three or four - we are in a major process of a natural clear-out. So there is going to be a big turnaround. In January we could have bought (Martin) Taylor because we made a very fair offer and the board backed me all the way and made sure there was money available - salary as well, which was quite expensive in Championship terms.
“So the board haven't done anything to worry me at the moment where I am thinking they are not going to allow me to bring in players next year.
“Any club that has got to turn around at least 12 players and maybe more is going to find it very difficult, whoever you are, to buy all your own players in one go so I do see next year as part building in terms of our own new players and using friends I have in the Premiership to loan us players of high quality, which they have done so far.
“I think that the board will do everything they can. And with a combination of our own players on contracts and hitting the loan market again, we will probably have to do this in two stages, over the period of the next two seasons, and although I have taught myself it is best to be an unrealistic person, sometimes you have to be realistic and this is the time to be realistic.”
Roeder - who confirmed that no decisions had been made on new contracts for Huckerby, Mark Fotheringham and Gary Doherty - refuted suggestions that he had tinkered with the team line-up to accommodate loan players.
“No, no, no,” he said. “I pick every team with a view that it is the team that I think will win the game.”