City caretaker boss Jim Duffy used the post-match Press conference at The Hawthorns yesterday to make an impassioned plea to the Canary board to make a decision.
Yesterday's 2-0 defeat – coupled with results elsewhere – left the Norfolk side cast wholly adrift at the bottom of this weekend's Championship table.
QPR's win at Charlton Athletic, coupled to wins for Leicester City, Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday found the managerless Canaries three points adrift of both Rangers and Crystal Palace in the drop zone – both of whom have a game in hand.
More concerning is the fact that under caretaker boss Mick Harford, Rangers have now taken eight points from their last 15 and are clearly heading in the right direction. Across at Selhurst Park and owner Simon Jordan wasted little time in slamming his big pal Neil Warnock into the hot-seat following Peter Taylor's exit.
You would put money on Warnock – one of the big beasts of the Championship managerial jungle – dragging the Eagles out of the mire one way or another.
All of which leaves the Canaries adrift and alone at the very foot of the table.
“I think it's important now that they make a decision,” said Duffy, who despite rackng up his third straight defeat in his short craetaker spell has reacted with both garce and dignity under fire.
“The players have to know – the players have to be give direction,” added Peter Grant's former No2, laying heavy emphasis on the world have.
“They have to be advised on how someone wants them to play and how he sees them playing and to help that process – and supporters have to be given positive feedback,” said Duffy, with the City faithful handed another diet of Sunday tabloid tittle-tattle – Ian Holloway was Norfolk-bound if you read one red-top, Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen if you read another.
“And, as we've said before, I know there are various reasons why directors have to take their time.
“But I think it will be three weeks on Monday-Tuesday since Peter left and you'd like to think that that would be enough time for them to make a decision.
“So, hopefully, for the benefit of everyone at the football club they can make that decision in the early part of next week.”
All the signs were that City were moving towards that timetable – well aware that going into the back-to-back home games against high-flying neighbours Ipswich Town and league leaders Watford both managerless and bottom of the table was courting real disaster.
For their own, reputational reasons – battered and buised as they already are by Grant's flawed reign – a big iron needs to be pulled out of the fire in the next 48 hours. Even a vaguely glowing ember would be a start; that someone had a hand on the tiller.
It was, said Duffy, a big job that awaited Grant's successor.
“It's a tough job – a very tough job. For me, or whoever comes in. You've got key players missing – that's the first thing,” added the City caretaker after goals either side of the break from the on-loan Ishmael Miller and Kevin Phillips condemned Norwich to their seventh defeat in eight games.
With one point from their last 24 and just two goals in their last nine games, there might be one or two candidates out there thinking: 'Mmm, I'll pass…” A look at the casualty list wouldn't thrill anyone with confidence, either.
“The players that were out there today – that's pretty much everyone that we have available,” said Duffy, candid to the last.
“And at this moment in time, they're a good bit behind the majority of teams in this league in terms of quality. And that's not being disrespectful – that's just a fact.”
Certainly, the Baggies were light years ahead of Norwich – by almost every measure. You could throw in bigger, stronger and quicker just for starters. That said, even a Watford will have their hands full when the Miller-Phillips show turns up.
“It might help if Adam (Drury) and Dion (Dublin); Mark Fotheringham, Gary Doherty… If all these kind of guys were back in the squad; that strengthens you – and gives you a physical presence which you need. Particularly when you're having to dig out a few results.
“But further up the pitch you need a little bit more ingenuity and a little bit more imagination.”
Once again, fingers were being pointed in the midfield's direction as baggies' skipper Jonathan Greening ran the show. On-loan Chelsea midfielder Jimmy Smith barely got a touch; Darel Russel and Michael Spillane chased shadows; Jamie Cureton and Chris Martin were left to feed off scraps.
Lee Croft's arrival in the game's final ten minutes upped Norwich's attacking ambitions a notch, but by then it was all far too little, too late.
And having spent the last 80 minutes pinned against the ropes as blow after blow was aimed in their direction by an impressive Albion side, few of Croft's team-mates had either the legs or the heart left to join the fight.
“It's a tough job – but there are bricks there that you can build from,” said Duffy. “There's just not enough of them at this moment in time.”
How much time anyone has got to rebuild this particular shattered City squad is another matter. Not long, is the short answer.
“If you try and throw a lot of player in there and gamble that in the mix, a few of them fit then I don't think that's the right way to do it,” said Duffy. Whether that was an indirect dig at his predecessor's policy was hard to tell. City certainly don't appear to have benefitted from this summer's frantic spin on the transfer merry-go-round.
Julien Brellier wasn't even on the bench; David Strihavka never left it.
“You've got to try and show an element of patience and try and build a team. Because you're not going to be able to go out there and buy five, ?1 million players – that's impossible. Those resources are not available.
“Getting other players back helps. If those four or five players that I mentioned were in the squad, then you'd come up here today feeling a lot more confident than you may have been,” added Duffy, clearly pointing to the new man's first job – slamming something, or someone, into that central midfield area.
As Darren Huckerby never tires of telling everyone, City's current soft centre is letting the likes of Wolves and West Brom walk all over them; even such out-of-sorts outfits as Sheffield Wednesday enjoy themselves against the headless Canaries.
“If they can just bring two or three in and just add that little bit extra quality in the central area then you've got a chance – you've got a chance. But the first thing you've got to do is grind results out.
“Any kind of result. Get a foothold in the league and then start to target people.”
Well, it's one plan…
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