Peter Grant's patience with Youssef Safri finally snapped in fairly spectacular style tonight as he accused the 30-year-old City playmaker of telling “a pack of lies”.
Safri's name was one again notable by its absence from tonight's team-sheet against West Ham United; just as his presence was notable by its absence in yesterday's official team photo.
Events of yesterday were clearly the last straw as far as Grant was concerned. And given the tone and, indeed, content of the manager's remarks after this evening's 2-1 home defeat by the Hammers, Safri's chances of ever playing again under Grant must be next to nil. If not nil.
“It's simple,” said Grant, asked the near compulsory Safri question in the post-match Press conference.
“Safs phoned us yesterday morning to say he was picking up an agent. Unfortunately, he forgets he's got training on in the morning.
“He knew there was a picture in the afternoon and I don't go chasing players,” explained Grant, as Safri arrived late for the 2.30pm photo call.
“Players turn up late – game over. Safs has been fined; that's been dealt with; left out of the squad tonight. But I think it is about time that Youssef told the truth.
“Since I came here, Youssef's agents having been wanting him away from here. From the second day I came in here.”
In fairness to Grant, he slung the ball back into Safri's court by asking the Press to ask Safri himself where he saw his future lying. The manager clearly doesn't buy into the idea that his playmaker bleeds yellow and green.
“I told the Press to go and ask Youssef to get the right answers – and he's given them all the wrong answers.
“He tells you how much he loves the club; how much he wants to be here…
“I've asked him to be honest with you and he's never done that. I've told him: 'You deal with the Press….' and he tells you a pack of lies. And that's a fact.”
Matters had simmered on all summer as all the talk of a potential move to West Bromwich Albion lingered on; Southampton have also been added to his list of supposed admirers.
Darren Huckerby had clearly heard the rumours as he threw Safri's name into his memorable, 'Where's the ambition?' speech.
And having already seen both Robert Earnshaw and Dickson Etuhu disappear virtually overnight with their respective representatives having long since done a deal in some dark corridor, so the whispers that appear to haunt Safri's every move have merely fuelled Grant's anger.
Yesterday was the final straw.
“The first time he disrespected me was yesterday by not turning up on time,” said Grant, as he unloaded many a long-held frustration.
“And, for me, once he disrespects his team-mates there's no way back.”
Did he want the whole situation to be nipped in the bud? “Yep.”
Will he not play for you again? “Hopefully not.”
There are games being played here. It is the oldest piece of advice in an agent's book when it comes to players looking to engineer a move away – make yourself a nuisance and the club will get shot.
It's precisely the game that Damien Francis played when he no-showed for the pre-season friendly at Colchester United. Grant insists he will not play that game. With a year still to run on his Carrow Road deal, he is in no mood to bundle Safri out of the back door on a free.
“Maybe he thinks that if he works his ticket, he can get away for nothing – maybe that's what this is,” said Grant, all too well aware of the games agents play. Whoever Safri's agent actually is.
“When you thought I was telling lies about Earnie – and I see the criticism I get; that I was telling lies about Earnie – but we get an offer for him one day and the next day he is away.
“And it's the same with Dickson Etuhu. We get an offer on the Saturday night and he's away the next day.
“Safri? We've not had an offer. People keep telling us that they're interested, but we've not had an offer. And if he thinks he's going to work his ticket to get out of here for nothing… Sorry.”
Again, to the manager's credit he kept his powder dry and took Safri to Holland; to the player's credit, he didn't play as if he wanted-away; he was bright and interested – more than Francis achieved.
“I took him to Holland because his attitude in training was terrific. That's why there was the disappointment yesterday.
“I was a very, very angry man yesterday. To say the least. He comes up here wanting to be in the team photo and I said: 'No. Bye-bye.'
“He wasn't here on time. This is a football club, not a charity shop,” said Grant.
“You talk about the passion of the supporters, as soon as your player doesn't show that same passion, get him out of the door. But we're not going to be stupid.
“As long as he's a Norwich City employee we've got to make sure that we get the benefit for our club as well.”
So he goes on your terms? “Always.”
The fact that Grant used this evening's post-match Press conference to formally announce that Jason Shackell was, indeed, going to be skipper for the forthcoming season somehow rather paled by comparison.