Saints crisis is no gloating matter

The Man In The Stands NORWICH fans would be forgiven for being bored of reading articles about Southampton. In recent years people from both within and outside our football club have been quick to draw favourable comparisons between our own plight and that of the South Coast club.

The Man In The Stands

NORWICH fans would be forgiven for being bored of reading articles about Southampton.

In recent years people from both within and outside our football club have been quick to draw favourable comparisons between our own plight and that of the South Coast club.

When the brown stuff was hitting the fan in Norfolk, you could bet your bottom dollar some self-serving comment or column would soon emerge pointing out that even more brown stuff was hitting the fan in Southampton.


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In fact, we were told, our brown stuff didn't even stink compared to the Saints'.

And thus, after what seems like an interminable wait, Southampton, or the company which owns Southampton, finally fell into administration this week.

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Despite the initial noises coming from the football authorities, The Man fully expects the Saints to be hit with a points deduction soon.

So indeed, thank goodness we are not Southampton, but lest we forget, we are still Norwich City, we are still �20m in debt, and we are in another relegation scrap to avoid League One. Any glee, smugness or I told you so's in relation to the situation on the South Coast should be tempered by one of those huge Lottery fingers metaphorically floating above Carrow Road saying “it could be you”. Maybe not this year, maybe not next, but glasshouses and all that…

As a footnote, The Man can't have been the only one amused(ish) by revelations his week that it was Norwich Union who lent Southampton millions of pounds to build their new stadium, and are now going to have to write off huge amounts of money.

As you may recall, good old NU did the same trick with Ipswich, ending up building them two brand new stands for bugger all. “Hello, I want to redevelop my football club - quote me happy!” ”No problem sir; four new stands or two?”

Continuing the theme of NU and sport, it may have passed some by, but the insurance company has also recently agreed to sponsor Ireland's Lansdowne Road to the tune of 40m Euros.

Quite a bit of money when you are letting hundreds of jobs go…

t WORTHY WINNERS

On the somewhat tedious subject of international football, well done to dear old Nigel (and Sammy) for leading Northern Ireland to two wins in a week. No mean feat at all.

The Man retains a lot of affection for Worthy, so I'm glad to see him doing well in Belfast. However, you suspect the trouble will come for Northern Ireland when they need to win a game away from home…something NW never really truly worked out how to do. They'll be great at home though.

The winner of this year's I Can't Believe He Got An England Cap Award - sponsored by Michael Ricketts - goes to Carlton Cole.

Quite how the West Ham striker has now got his own England shirt to put in a frame above his mantelpiece is beyond me.

The Man knows the country is not blessed with big target men at the moment, but Cole is clearly not an international striker. Mercifully, his appearance was cut short by injury; and we are unlikely to see him at Wembley again.

Tough luck for the fellow, but he should never have been there in the first place.

t ALAN COULD BE A BARGAIN

THE MAN has always liked Alan Lee as a player: to put it bluntly, I always thought he was a pain in the backside.

And quite honestly, in our current predicament, I couldn't give two hoots that he once played for That Lot up the road. In fact, if you read between the lines of the interviews Lee has given since he joined, it's pretty clear he does not hold Ipswich fans in too high regard. You can guarantee when we give them their one full house of the season in a few weeks time Lee will be busting a gut to score too. In the longer term, players like Lee are not easy to come by, the traditional target man is a dying breed. So if we can pick up Lee on the cheap at the end of the season we may well have got ourselves a bargain. The **** have hardly blossomed without him…

t WHY OWLS FANS ARE KINDRED SPIRITS

AND so today we came face-to-face with Sheffield Wednesday; a team that had beaten us 36 times in a row. At least it felt like it.

The Man can only hope they did not repeat their bi-annual trick again today.

Given their recent record against us, Sheffield Wednesday fans should be forgiven for viewing Norwich in the same demeaning terms in which we countenance Barnsley.

Not so much our bogey team, more like our big ball of snot coughed into a tissue and flushed down the bog team. The delicious irony of this run or results, of course, being that SWFC aren't any good either.

But despite having the upper hand on us for a few seasons now, The Man does feel a certain kinship with Wednesday supporters.

In an era of relative ascendancy for tinpot clubs, they are at least what Rodney Marsh would call a “proper” football club.

While Wednesday have a more successful history than ourselves - albeit 50 years ago - I do think there are certain similarities between us and them.

Namely that we are both well supported, home and away, but are invariably rubbish. I suppose my feelings of comradeship are a sort of polar opposite to the kind of “mutual respect” pundits talk about when two heavyweights clash in the Champions League. Rather than holding them in esteem for winning things, I “respect” Wednesday because they've been rubbish for an even more prolonged period than we have in the past decade or so, and yet they still had 1,500 at our place today.

That's real football my friend(s); losing, suffering, but still turning up to be put through it all again.

t The Man reserves the right to change his mind about Sheffield Wednesday after 90 minutes of football.

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