Unhelpful? We just can't help it Neil!

A few words of warning to Norwich City shareholders ahead of Thursday's annual meeting - don't go preparing any of those “unhelpful” questions for the top table.

A few words of warning to Norwich City shareholders ahead of Thursday's annual meeting - don't go preparing any of those “unhelpful” questions for the top table.

As the shots rained in on City chief executive Neil Doncaster when he met the fourth estate at Carrow Road on Wednesday, he did an even better job than David Marshall when it came to blocking them, deflecting them, skilfully pushing them round the post or tipping them over the bar.

Apart from staying rooted to his line and looking mildly offended when it was asked if some of the directors might follow departing manager Peter Grant through the exit door - having appointed him in the first place - he had little trouble keeping a clean sheet against the assembled media.

Anything slightly controversial was flagged offside. “Unhelpful” was the buzz word of the day . . .

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“I'm not aware that there is any truth whatsoever in that sort of speculation, which is unhelpful.” (on reports that Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones may sell their shareholding)

“It's unhelpful particularly on the day after we parted company with Peter that that sort of speculation is out there.” (those Delia stories again)

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“I don't think that sort of terminology is helpful at all, to be frank.” (on whether City were in crisis)

“We can get into a blame culture but I don't think that actually helps the football club at all.” (on the board's original decision to appoint Peter Grant as manager)

“It's over simplistic and not at all helpful to link expenditure that the club has to pay out to what's available for players.

“I just don't think that's helpful and it's not a fair representation of the football club business that we have to run.” (on whether Grant's pay-off would have an impact on potential spending for a new manager)

“I think speculating about the future, generally, is unhelpful in football. We are keen to make an appointment as soon as we can.” (on whether a new manager may be in place in time for the annual meeting)

“Speculation about individuals at this stage is not helpful and we won't engage in it.” (on possible candidates for the manager's job)

“I don't think talking about numbers is going to be helpful because that will change hour by hour” (on the number of early applicants)

“You may feel that a culture that blames is helpful. I take the view that we should be looking to the best interests of Norwich City Football Club going forward. That sort of question is not one that I think is helpful to respond to.” (on whether anyone on the board should step down)

That's the trouble with the Press. They're just so damned unhelpful.



Well, that was the week that was. It was as if someone in the football firmament had decided it was City's turn to hog the headlines.

It started with another grim televised defeat, this time at Queen's Park Rangers, followed by manager Peter Grant baring his soul to the Press, the radio and the TV, before holding long talks with club directors and making his sad and rather sudden exit from Carrow Road the next day.

Whatever his record over the past year and whatever criticisms are levelled at him, no one could dispute the hours and the effort Grant put into trying to make a success of a job he desperately wanted a year ago. He loved his job and it must have been a bitter disappointment to have to walk away from it so soon after starting what he thought would be his first full season in charge with such optimism.

But barely had fans had time to digest Tuesday's events than they were confronted with newspapers headlines suggesting joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones were about to sell up to new directors Andrew and Sharon Turner.

The story was swiftly denied by chief executive Neil Doncaster and a statement was later put out by the club to that effect, but no sooner was it released than former vice-chairman Barry Skipper was criticising the board for lack of ambition and asked why they were proposing a new share issue that would raise only £1m, instead of a potential £3.2m.

As if that wasn't enough for one week, City yesterday completed the loan signing of a striker who was once filmed kicking a team-mate in the head in training - and who also admitted kidnapping a sheep after a heavy night out with friends.

There's enough material there to keep the scriptwriters going for a while - more intrigue and drama than a whole episode of Ugly Betty.

One can hardly wait for next week's instalment.



The strangest of stories surfaced in Holland this week as ex-City full-back Jurgen Colin became an unlikely target for Ajax fans' anger.

After Ajax went out of two European competitions, supporters' frustration boiled over during Sunday's 2-2 draw at Sparta Rotterdam when fans aimed abuse at coach Henk ten Cate, club chairman John Jaakke and defender Colin.

Regular chants of “Henkie, get lost and take Jaakke and Colin with you” rang around the away end as Ajax struggled to gain a point.

Not sure what that sounds like as a chant, but I always felt Colin was a tidy defender, though lacking in confidence going forward. The Snakepit certainly wouldn't have resorted to that sort of treatment. But if Mr Wilnis keeps his place in the Ipswich side in three weeks' time . .

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