Glenn Roeder's straight-forward and open approach to football management was evident again at Colney this morning as he confirmed that Dion Dublin would not be available for tomorrow night's home clash with league leaders Watford.
No ifs, buts, possiblies or maybes – just an honest answer to a simple question.
“No, he won't be fit tomorrow night – it's as simple as that,” said Roeder, after whipping the 38-year-old off at the break yesterday after Dublin's hamstrings started to tighten in the midst of all those derby fun and games.
“There's always managers that try and hide the obvious and I can't see the value in that. If he's out, he's out – and Aidy Boothroyd will know that anyway,” said Roeder at Colney this morning, as the one-time Canary Academy coach prepares to return to Norfolk with his table-topping Hornets.
“So we've got to go to war with what we've got – and Dion won't be one of those, unfortunately.”
Roeder was not, however, about to tell everyone the plot – or rather just who would step into the City striker's shoes. “I'm not going to tell you everything…”
Asked about his opinion about the players overall state of fitness and, again, Roeder was again playing the diplomat as a far better feeling percolated its way through Colney on the back of yesterday's rousing, 2-2 derby draw with Ipswich.
“I'm always conscious that when a new manager comes to a club, he always tries to focus on how unfit the players are. And then the manager who has just lost his job, he sees that and it's not a nice thing to read about yourself. And I think it's just poor for new managers to come in and, back-handedly, give the old manager a slap,” said Roeder, who continues to be pleasantly surprised by what he is discovering in both the staff and the equipment lurking in the corridors of Colney.
“Peter Grant was one of those coaches and manager that was very forward in his thinking – and I can see that around the place. So I won't be saying that the players are unfit, but that doesn't mean that all of us can't get fitter. Including myself. I need to do a bit more.”
It would appear, however, that cramp victim Jamie Cureton will be fine tomorrow – amazing the healing power of a derby leveller in front of the Barclay.
“In some cases cramp can be brought on by tension – the game was so important and obviously playing Ipswich added a little bit more to it,” said Roeder, who was made very aware of Cureton's problems – moments before he dug out the most delightful of flicks to earn Norwich a point for their far-improved efforts in front of the live Sky cameras.
“It must have been 30 seconds before he scored that he came to the side and he said: 'I've got some cramp…' And I said: 'Well, score a goal and you can come off…' And he did.
“And then he came over again and I said: 'No, you've got to score another one now…' But he'll be fine. We've got a good recovery programme and I think this morning, they're going off for a swim and things like that,” said Roeder, swiftly relaxing into his new surroundings and revealing a far more humorous side to him. “It's like being at school, isn't it? What a life… and you get paid for it…”
What he had yet to do was to review the incident in which Darren Huckerby saw red deep into injury time for a high challenge – serious foul play that will see the two-time Player of the Year suspended for three games. Whatever Roeder's thoughts on the rights and the wrongs of the challenge with Jon Walters, they will stay in house.
“As I understand it both players went in high,” said the new City chief. “And my first thought was that it looked nasty.
“But the one thing I will never, ever do – and you can go back through all your newspaper cuttings – I will never take a player to task publically. I hated playing for managers like that; I had no respect for them whatsoever. It was a cheap shot.
“If I feel something is wrong, I will take them to task in my office. I think it's a cop out for managers who continually criticise their players in public – I don't think you earn respect that way at all. I will criticise them, collectively, as a group, if I am unhappy with something, but to start naming individuals will not be for me.
“And I don't see the top managers doing that, anyway.”
Roeder, to his credit, was not promising overnight fixes. City, for all the hope and heart yesterday's events offered are still five points off the safety mark and Watford (h) plus Plymouth (a) aren't exactly promising fixtures.
“We're in a hole that we've got to dig ourselves out of and it's not going to be done overnight. But we've got long enough left in the season to do that,” said Roeder, convinced that he has the set-up, the supporters, the staff and the facilities to do that. Whether he has the players is for the next seven months to decide.
“Whichever way I turn, all I keep turning into is an organisation that is that well run and organised that I know there are Premiership clubs not as well run and organised as this. And that's everything.”
Bolt some sound and sensible management on top and the Canaries could still start to move in the right direction. Certainly his reaction to and assessment of the first 45 minutes against Ipswich yesterday suggests a manager firmly in tune with the way players' minds work.
“I don't go down the tunnel too often at half-time when you're 2-0 down and think: 'I can't slam into these, they don't deserve it – they've given everything…'”
A few, quiet, well-placed words and 45 minutes later he had got his due reward.
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