Magnificent effort was a joy to watch

The Man In The Stands THE well-worn clich� in football is that fans are happy as long as their team tries hard.The Man does not buy into that theory 100 per cent; Andy Hughes being a prime example of how sheer application can't be a total replacement for at least a modicum of skill.

The Man In The Stands

THE well-worn clich� in football is that fans are happy as long as their team tries hard.

The Man does not buy into that theory 100 per cent; Andy Hughes being a prime example of how sheer application can't be a total replacement for at least a modicum of skill.

But if one thing pleased me from the performance at Birmingham, it was the red-blooded effort and work-rate put in by the players. To a man, they were bang up for it.

David Mooney chased absolutely everything; to the point where The Man was getting tired just watching him.

Not since the departure of Three Lungs has The Man seen a City player cover so much ground.

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He must be an absolute nightmare for centre-halves, never giving them a moment to settle on the ball. In fact, it was his tenacity which won the free-kick for the goal.

In midfield, we had Simon Lappin, clearly intent on grasping his opportunity and thundering into tackles with a vengeance that would snap Ian Murray in two. Wallop. To say Lappin has the patience of a saint would be an understatement, he has more patience than the N&N in vomiting bug season (ouch - sorry).

That is to name but two players, yet in reality our boys were up for it all over the pitch. Magnificent, magnificent stuff. Got to keep it going though, next week is another “cup final”. For a club that has struggled to win trophies in its 100-year plus history, we ain't half being treated to a lot of “cup finals” in recent years…I guess we should be grateful.


It does not take much admittedly, but The Man is confused.

This week Delia appeared on Radio Four and said she had “given” �11m to Norwich City.

She told the BBC's Woman's' Hour: “It [the �11m] wasn't all given in one go … we [Michael and Delia] knew we would never see any of that money again. We are looking that straight in the eye and not bothering because it's only money.”

Now before anyone from the Ring of Sycophancy that surrounds Michael and Delia gets ready to carpet The Man for taking the Queen's name in vain, let me stress (again) that I am grateful to Michael and Delia; and they are great people.

It is their money, it is absolutely their call. In fact, I am not even taking her name in vain.

But, The Man is just confused about how Delia's comments sit with the �16m price tag (at the inflated cost of �30 a share) that was placed on the club's shares last summer. Any ideas?


Stinging criticism of our recent loan policy from Ian Butterworth this week.

Our new assistant manager said the turnover of players in defence had been “absurd” and “absolutely scandalous”.

Hallelujah. How refreshing to hear some blunt honesty come out of Carrow Road about loans for once.

In full, Butts said: “It's absurd the amount of people who have played at the back at this club. How on earth are you going to get success? Gary Doherty was telling me he's had seven or eight different partners.

“One or two people have been lost through injury but it's absolutely scandalous. We have to try to change that.”

The Man's criticism of our use of the loan market has never been over the commitment of the loan players, it is the sheer lack of continuity that it creates which troubles me. Good teams have always been built on a consistent line-up.

I listened to Neil Doncaster at a fans' forum at the start of the season telling us all that loan signings from bloated Premiership squads was an effective policy for Norwich to pursue. One or two, yes. But 16 or 17 in a season, an utter shambles and a disaster.

Whatever happens in the remainder of this term, this season has at least proved that our aggressive use of loan signings is flawed and has failed. We simply have to find another way. If it means kids and lower league signings on free transfers then bring it on. OTBC


BIRMINGHAM City; oh dear.

A few years ago a very rich pornographer and his pals decided to spend an awful lot of money to revive the “sleeping giant” in England's second biggest city. The logic seemed clear: big city equals big club.

As the bank-rolled revival gathered pace the owners even talked of 40,000 crowds and eclipsing Aston Villa as the Midlands' top club. Hell, the odd UEFA Cup run might even be thrown into the bargain.

As their fans ungraciously poured on to the pitch after beating us in the play-off final The Man felt, somewhat begrudgingly, that he was witnessing the rebirth of a big club.

How wrong I was. On the evidence of last week's trip to St Andrews, Birmingham City are like a wannabe page three girl whose expensive cosmetic surgery has gone wrong: ugly, unwanted and not worth the money.

They are also one of a new breed of clubs that you could almost term post-successful.

They've been to the Promised Land, realised that when the novelty of playing Man U each year had worn off, there was not a lot for them to play for. And that morose realisation has never left them.

The money their board has disproportionately chucked at the club has also raised expectations; meaning those same fans who deliriously celebrated promotion against us a few years ago, can't even be bothered to go to a game any more, despite their team challenging for the title. I guess they don't call them The Blues for nothing. What a waste of money.