Suffice to say, Canary boss Peter Grant will have had better weeks.
Six short days ago and he seemed very nicely placed for tomorrow's opening fixture at Preston North End with just Darren Huckerby's groin to worry about.
Even then the summer's pre-season friendlies had suggested that both Chris Martin and/or Luke Chadwick could comfortably slip in to any temporary hole that City's two-time Player of the Season might leave; he's dug Safri out to Southampton; Gunny had got the call into Manchester United; then there was a chance of getting Carter out of The Hawthorns…
Six days and a barbecue later and Grant was fast discovering – again – that football management is a beast of a business as he works out just who of his stricken sickness victims has the strength to travel on the bus to Deepdale this afternoon and all whilst watching Darren Carter sign in at Preston North End and Stoke City unveil Ryan Shawcross as their new defensive partner for Danny Higginbotham.
The 19 year-old defender – long linked to the Canaries – goes straight into the Potters' side for their opening game at Cardiff City having signed a six-month loan deal for boss Tony Pulis with an option to extend it for a full season if all parties agree.
“We are absolutely delighted to get a player of his pedigree,” Pulis told the Stoke Sentinel newspaper today.
“He's very young and very inexperienced, but he's had the perfect upbringing in football and we believe he is ready for the next step,” added the Potters' chief, stealing what might have been Grant's best lines had events not seemingly conspired against him.
Stoke's beauty is, of course, it's proximity to United; bang on Sir Alex's doorstep where he can easily keep an eye on his young defender's progress. There will, of course, also be money talking.
All of which may now see Grant's interest in West Ham United's surplus centre-half Callum Davenport rekindling; it may have been him who was uppermost in his thoughts when he hoped that people would let their unwanted players out early rather than letting a fifth choice centre-half sit on his butt for the opening three or four months of the season.
And yet, for all such trials and tribulations, Grant insists that football managers are among “the luckiest people in the world” – a view that few outsiders might share if your professional reputation and career hung on the outcome of a summer barbecue and the whims of a football agent.
Given events of the last six days, the City chief could be forgiven for feeling sick in the stomach – for reasons wholly unrelated to events of last weekend. You would also struggle to throw the word 'lucky' into conversation.
“Do I still get the same buzz going into the new season as a manager as I did as a player? For sure,” said Grant on the very eve of battle.
“We're the luckiest people in the world. I know we get a lot of stick; a lot of criticism.
“It's great when things are going well – but you know that's part and parcel of the job. It is tough – and at times, it's a lonely place. But I felt the same as a player when you weren't playing well – you felt the same way.
“You just wanted the season to start; you wanted to have a good season as an individual and you wanted your team to be successful. And as a manager you want everybody to be successful.
“You want to see the football club and the supporters having the benefit of you having good runs and exciting everybody again – so you take all that on board yourself,” said Grant, offering a fascinating insight into the collective responsibility that weighs down on any manager's shoulders. Norfolk expects – and he knows that.
“But as a player you were much more selfish – you were only concerned about yourself. Playing well – and then, hopefully, the team would do well on the back of that.
“But I'm excited every week about games and, as I say, we're in the very fortunate positionand who knows how long it lasts? It could be my last day at it – that's the way I look at it.
“It could be your last day; it could be your first day. So every time you go into it, you've got to try and make sure you enjoy it.”
And, after a week like he's just endured, here was the killer line. “I love it – but whether I enjoy it is a completely different answer!”
Ideally for all concerned at Carrow Road come five o'clock tomorrow there will be a few more smiles on faces. Deepdale hasn't ben the happiest of hunting grounds – two years ago and it was the Doc-Shacks horror show as both managed to score an own-goal; last season and the Canaries had players dropping like flies – before and during the game as Mark Fotheringham enjoyed his finest 90 minutes in a City shirt.
“Last year I thought we played very well up there; lost the game 2-1 but I thought our general performance was excellent – in difficult circumstances,” said Grant, in the midst of more 'difficult circumstances' this time round.
“We lost Dion early on, then Peter Thorne came on and had to go off and we had to change it again. And we'd lost three games before the game anyway – Huckerby, Etuhu and Safri.
“So we're used to going into these games without a full complement of players. Hopefully, we just get a better result this time.”
Time for the real fun to start; time for the Canaries – and their ambitious manager – to put their hopes and his neck on the block again. Kicking off in Lancashire tomorrow afternoon.
“We know it's a tough call – there's no getting away from that. But it's the start of the season and all managers will be going in with great hopes – and great trepidation as well.
“We're all no different. We all want to get off to a fantastic start.”
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