Word from the wise makes Gunn's day
Chris Lakey Sir Alex Ferguson played his part in lifting the gloom over Norwich City on Saturday - with a Saturday morning good luck message to his former goalkeeper and baby-sitter Bryan Gunn.
Sir Alex Ferguson played his part in lifting the gloom over Norwich City on Saturday - with a Saturday morning good luck message to his former goalkeeper and baby-sitter Bryan Gunn.
The Manchester United boss was among a whole host of callers on the Gunn mobile phone in the hours leading up to kick-off - but along with the well-wishing was some serious stuff as Gunn prepared to make the first team talk of his long career.
"I asked him, 'what will I say?' and he just said, 'togetherness', and 'play as a team' and that was it," said Gunn.
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"A simple message.
"I told the players I had received a message from the greatest football manager in the world and let them know what he had said and it certainly worked."
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Gunn's appearance in suit and tie in the technical area - on a day when City celebrated the achievements of the 59ers' FA Cup heroes of half a century ago - ensured that it was a truly yellow and green day.
The task was to instil that feeling into his players - and 90 minutes and four goals later he proved he had.
"The fans played their part and we knew they would do," said Gunn.
"There was a bit of nostalgia before the game with the reunion of the 59ers and I said to the players to respect that as well.
"It's a big part of this club's tradition and they put on a show and hopefully the members of the 58-59 cup squad that were here have had an amazing weekend."
The cheers for Gunn started inside a minute, but after Wes Hoolahan put City ahead on 55 minutes, Carrow Road became a cauldron of noise.
Gunn responded to the call for a wave - although he was respectful enough not to re-enact some of the antics of his playing days.
"That was good but I tried to block that out," he said.
"I didn't want that to be about me, it was about the players on the pitch.
"In the old days when I was on the pitch and we were winning 4-0 I would have milked it.
"I would have absolutely loved it if they'd been doing that and I would have put my hand to my ear to say I couldn't hear them singing or when they were singing the score I would put my fingers up, but out of respect to Barnsley and Simon Davey I kept my hands firmly in my pocket and as soon as they did sing, 'give us a wave' it was up within two seconds to quieten them down fairly quickly."
Gunn paid tribute to coaches Tommy Wright and Ricky Martin, but admitted not all of his day's work had been as enjoyable as the final result.
"The tactical side, the set-pieces and things like that we had an opportunity to talk through on Thursday, we had an inkling of the team we wanted to pick," Gunn said.
"We wanted everyone to have an opportunity to be fit for the game hence the reason for not naming the team until 1.45pm.
"Probably the most difficult decision today was leaving Elliott Omozusi out of the 16, but we wanted to go with a positive bench and we felt that we had enough cover in other areas of the pitch that we felt we could make tactical moves if there were any injuries.
"That was awkward because that's the first time I have ever had to look at a player and say that he wasn't featuring today.
"That was, I suppose, a little bit of a bad experience in what has been an amazing experience."
Gunn is likely to be found with his other hat on today, that of head of recruitment, having given the players a couple of days off.
"A lot of agents are calling in now, it's a busy time," he said.
"It's an opportunity to find out who might be available in the window and then make recommendations to the chairman and the board of directors to see if we can maybe freshen the squad up.
"We have 18 games left and it will be crucial that we keep the squad at the level it is and, if not, better."
So was it an enjoyable experience?
"It's been more enjoyable than Wednesday afternoon," he said.
"It's been a difficult time, but I was offered an opportunity to take on the role, be in charge of the first team and the training and the backroom staff.
"The backing I have got from them and the players has been excellent.
"It has been quite traumatic, but I'm quite proud of the achievement as well, that's not just me, that's the team achievement.
"The second-half performance was excellent, first-half performance was a little bit nervous at the beginning, but I have got to take my hat off to Tommy Wright and Ricky Martin for their coaching experience as well because their help was invaluable in the dressing room and making sure that we matched up against a very good Barnsley side.
"Second half we raised the game and the players showed what sort of level they can get to."