If ever there was a club that was holding out for a hero, it is Norwich City.
But even as Dion Dublin prepares to return to the fray tomorrow night following his three match ban for the 'head butt' aimed at Danny Mills, so City boss Peter Grant has warned against expecting miracles from the 38-year-old.
The confidence and belief his team so sorely lacks has to come from within each individual player – not from one, single individual. However influential that player may be.
?It's important to have Dion around at any time – just even around about the place,? said Grant, in desperate need of a lift going into tomorrow night's home clash with Scunthorpe United following this weekend's 1-0 home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday.
No-one can afford a second home reverse in four days. No pressure, Dion…
?But can Dion Dublin give them all that confidence? Is he going to make that one person go that ten extra yards more? Or someone else go and do this…?
?I think that's difficult. He's a fantastic character around the place – there's no doubt about that. But at the end of the day I think that would be an indictment on the players themselves if they've got to go to Dion Dublin and say: 'Give me confidence…'
?Dion can't do it on his own. It's how you play that gives you confidence; making the right choices; making simple choices and doing the simple things well.
?And I thought they did that well the other evening,? said Grant, looking back at that narrow, 1-0 defeat at Manchester City in the Carling Cup – a performance, albeit not the result, that should have set Norwich up so nicely for victory over the league's bottom side.
?And I thought they did that for periods in the first-half, but then all of a sudden it just seemed to cave in on them.?
What was fascinating about Saturday's contrasting post-match Press conferences was the way that Owls boss Brian Laws pointed to the recent on-loan arrival of Graham Kavanagh and Michael Johnson as the turning point in their early autumn fortunes.
Six defeats on the bounce had left Wednesday pinned to the floor of the Championship without a point to their name, but the arrival of Kavanagh on-loan from Sunderland and the 34-year-old Johnson on-loan from Derby County not only steadied the ship on the pitch, but also lifted everyone in the dressing room.
Their arrival bolted two big, bouncy characters straight into the heart of the team's spine and, suddenly, Wednesday have two wins out of two – not only that, but two hard-fought, hard-earned 1-0 wins. Classics of their Championship-type; bread and butter to your Kavanaghs and Johnsons of this world.
And guess who Laws was thanking for potentially saving his managerial skin?
?It is no coincidence with the two players that have come in because they are both leaders on the park, pulling and pushing everyone in the right direction,? said Laws afterwards.
?Sometimes you need these experienced players to see you through the hard times and we are certainly relying on them at the moment.?
Minus Dublin and that's clearly what Norwich lack – a leader of men.
?When we lost the goal, all of a sudden you're looking for somebody to step up to the plate and I just didn't think that happened,? admitted Grant.
?They were looking round for somebody else to take that leadership; somebody else to take that lead. And if all your gang don't do that – you're always going to struggle anyway.?
The lesson wasn't lost on Grant as his own unending quest for a loan or three shows little immediate sign of bearing any fruit.
?I thought Kavanagh did terrific for them,? said the City boss, who gave the nod to both youngsters Rossi Jarvis and Michael Spillane alongside Simon Lappin in a bid to give Kavanagh and Owls skipper Steve Watson another body to think about in the heat of that midfield battle.
?I thought in the first period we played around them very, very well,? said Grant, as Norwich made that extra body count.
?But in that important period when we needed to stay together you have that leadership from somebody like Graham who has been around the game for a long time and we just never had that. We never had that.
?And it's difficult – how do you give that to people? And I think those type of players have gone – it's a chosen few now,? added Grant, with another of the breed – Hull hero Dean Windass – having already smashed Norwich out of their stride with that 2-1 win at the KC Stadium.
?And that's why sometimes you see me like a maniac at the side of the pitch because that's the way I was – more of an organiser than a cultured footballer. But the ones that are like that these days are worth their weight in gold.?
Dublin's imminent return offers one straw to cling to. But with Grant readily admitting that one man can't carry that team all by himself, the kind of confidence and belief that Norwich so desperately need has to come from elsewhere. From three points, basically.
?How do you give players confidence? I've been in the game a long time now as a player and a coach and the only way you can give them confidence is winning matches,? said Grant, still finding the odd positive lurking amid the ruins of another morale-sapping home defeat.
?I thought in the first period we passed it as well as we have done at home without being penetrative in any shape or form.
?But as the game went on you could just sense that little bit of edginess coming in – and I think the goal summed it up.
?I always talk about being on the front foot; being positive. But everybody seemed to back off and everybody in the stadium could see they had to go and press the ball. Everybody was shouting at them and they only people that weren't reacting was the players.
?So it's a massive blow for us – and a big, big disappointment.?