City boss Peter Grant this morning fired a large warning shot across the bows of everyone at Soho Square as the Football Association's 'regulatory commission' sat down this lunchtime to review Dion Dublin's controversial red card.
The Canaries confirmed last night that they had officially lodged an appeal against the 38-year-old's dismissal for an alleged head-butt in the direction of Danny Mills.
Subject to events of the next few hours, the stand-in skipper could find himself (a) back in the squad for the trip to Molineux on Saturday if City's appeal were to be upheld, (b) out for the next three games if the regulatory commission concur with the views of Charlton referee Jamail Singh and the automatic three-match ban for violent conduct stands or – worse case scenario – (c) out for four games if the commission view Norwich's appeal as 'frivolous' and bolt on an extra game out for good measure.
Little wonder that Grant was keeping such a close eye on events at Soho Square today – adament, having watched the video again and again, that his lynch-pin star has absolutely no case to answer. None at all.
“I think they look at it about 1-ish,” said Grant at Colney this morning. “That's by the time that all the reports get there and, obviously, we're very hopeful that it goes our way.”
If it doesn't, then hell will have no fury like a manager scorned…
“If Dion ends up getting suspended, they've got it wrong,” said the Canary boss – and in his current frame of mind likely to tell them so. Forcibly so.
“They've got it wrong – they've made the wrong choice. And I will say that now.
“If they don't quash it then they have got it wrong. And it becomes a joke – the system.”
Not surprisingly the video evidence has been replayed again and again in the intervening hours – it was required viewing on the bus home as Grant and his coaching team mulled over the possible implications of up to a four-match ban.
Likewise, they also became of a firm frame of mind as to who were the right and the wronged parties as that fateful incident unfolded down towards the far corner flag.
“If you look at the incident Mills has actually looked at him and Dion's just muscled him away with his shoulder full on. An old shoulder charge,” said Grant.
“And I think Mills was embarrassed – and I think that's why he got up the way he did because he was trying to do Dion and Dion has swatted him like a fly.”
The Canary boss was careful with his words as a complicated series of events then unfolded – one that could, however, have serious repercussions for Norwich's season.
“I've got to be careful what I say,” said Grant. “But after the game Dave Carolan (the sports scientist) – and I was doing the Press at the time – he went and showed the referee (the video).
“And the referee said: 'No, it wasn't the first incident, there was a coming together after it…'
“But in his report he's went he intended a head-butt – or something like that. So it covers every angle. And I think that realises he's made a big, big mistake. That's me personally – he's made a big mistake.
“He's tried to cover every angle. 'No, I never said that…'”
The 30-minute 'cooling off' period afforded to managers before they can seek out a game's officials to clarify one or two of the more controversial episodes can, claimed Grant, work to both parties advantage.
“This 30-minute thing with the referees, the linesmen and the fourth officials getting together. They say it's to calm the manager down – it's an absolute waste of time. It's to get their story right. Nothing else. On his report he's changed what he said straight after the game.”
Grant revealed that he had not seen a replay of the incident before he approached referee Singh on the pitch straight after the final whistle – just to hear his version of events before watching the video replays himself.
“If he did head-butt him – as I said at the time – he'd still be on the ground. And I was more angry by the fact that if there was intent then Mills should have gone earlier in the game,” said Grant, with Mills and his one-time Leeds United team-mate Darren Huckerby 'enjoying' a match-long spat.
Grant used the dread word 'cheat' towards Mills after the match and he wasn't about to budge from that view-point 36 hours on.
The two players clashed from virtually the moment that the Canary favourite switched from right to left in the first-half; they did, more obviously, in the second period when Huckerby emerged with a booking, Mills walking away unscathed and unpunished.
On both occasions, Grant sensed both an elbow and an intent.
“Huckerby's tackled him on the far side in the first-half and at the time I thought he'd raised his elbow and – sure as fate – watch it again and he's does exactly the same. So he's had intent twice – on the same player,” said the City chief. “If that's what he's done then he should have been off the pitch.”
A point he was due to make to Mr Singh as they left the pitch.
Dublin's availability apart, Grant revealed that he had two fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Wolves – and that's over and above Luke Chadwick who disappeared with a slight strain at half-time at The Valley.
Who, exactly, they were he was not about to reveal for fear of giving his ex-Celtic pal Mick McCarthy an early head-start. Life, it seems, isn't getting any easier for the Canaries this autumn.
Leave a Reply