City striker Chris Brown today gave a first insight into the new coaching regime sweeping through Colney – and how die-hard Geordie Lee Clark has taken to working with an unrepentant Mackem from across the water.
The two were clearly either side of the great North-East divide this weekend as the Tyne-Wear battle raged ahead of City's trip to Plymouth. In the end, of course, the game ended all square at 1-1. And with honours even new Canary No2 and his 22-year-old striker can concentrate on the real job in hand – digging the Norfolk club out of the almighty mess they find themselves in at the very foot of the Championship table.
“We spoke last week about it and the importance of the game up there – it's a massive, massive derby and obviously he's played for both teams,” said Brown, speaking at the latest Canary kids roadshow, held at Cliff Park High School in Gorleston.
“Obviously he's come from Newcastle and he's a Newcastle fan, so he wanted Newcastle to win and I wanted Sunderland to win – so it was probably a fair result,” added the Canary frontman, born and bred a Mackem.
Such tribal loyalties have, it seems, been put firmly to one side in City's desperate hour of need with Brown revealing Clark's positive impact on training at Colney.
“Training has been good so far; the lads have enjoyed the sessions he's put on so hopefully that will continue,” said Brown, suggesting that there was a new, improved atmosphere at City's training HQ. Whether the Roeder-Clark show can turn that into improved performances and results on the pitch is, of course, the $64 million dollar question.
“He's more constructive – he hasn't given any beatings out as yet! But, no, his training has been good – very positive. He's always encouraging and stuff – the same as the gaffer, really,” said Brown, as the question was asked whether there was a 'Good cop, bad cop…' routine going on with Roeder and Clark.
One in which the roles might occasionally change if the fire in the new manager's eyes after Saturday's shambles was any guide – and the state of the paint-work in the away dressing room at Home Park.
“I think so,” confirmed Brown, who at least put a shift in alongside Jamie Cureton in the second-half at Home Park.
“When it comes to the game, that's when the gaffer comes out and says his stuff. In training during the week he doesn't really get involved as much as he does on a Friday before the game – or on Saturday. But Clarky's taken a few sessions now and I think everybody's enjoyed it.”
Rather more than the long journey home on Saturday night after City's latest away-day reverse.
“It's not nice,” said Brown, who in common with the rest of his team-mates flew back to Norfolk and was spared the delights of the six-hour drive home. Many of the 550 supporters present might have suggested that a walk home might have been a suitable and timely reminder of the predicament the Canaries find themselves in.
“It seems to be every week at the minute that we're feeling like this and we need to get out of that mentality,” said Brown. “We need to put that right. And I'm sure once we get one win it gets a habit then – a winning habit rather than a losing habit.”
City's big, big chance comes at home to Coventry City in ten days time. Fresh from their 4-0 home mauling last night by West Bromwich Albion, the Sky Blues might – just – offer a straw to cling to. Particularly if Roeder can slam a fresh face or two into his tattered squad before then. The back-to-back away trips to Blackpool and Stoke City that then follow are rather less appealing for a club that has prised just one point away from home all season.
“When you're losing games it's horrible,” admitted Brown. “It spoils your life – especially in a city like Norwich where everyone loves their football and stuff.
“And when you go out of the house, it's nice when you're winning and everybody seems to be happy. But when you're losing, it goes the opposite – so we've got to try and put that right.”
He has, of course, seen this before as Sunderland plummeted painfully out of the Premiership under Mick McCarthy.
“It was quite similar – we lost a few games at the start and we weren't able to turn that around. But hopefully we can turn this one around – and I'm quite confident that we can.”
Hanging in there together is one big requirement – finding anyone with a real, physical Championship presence is another. And if you do find them, them then staying fit also helps with Martin 'Tiny' Taylor adding to Roeder's many worries by disappearing with a groin strain on Saturday.
“I think the supporters have just got to stick with it,” said Brown. “We have got some good players and, hopefully, the gaffer's going to bring some more players in to add to that.
“And if we all stick together and work hard and try and play our normal game – I think that's what we've got to try and get back to. Play our normal game like we've been brought up to do. And then we'll all be OK – hopefully.”
In fairness to Brown, the prospect of a new strapping centre-forward arriving at Carrow Road – even it is not now likely to be of the Shola Ameobi variety as Sam Allardyce puts the block on that move – is viewed in the right way.
“I'd see it as a challenge,” said last January's ?325,000 buy, still with just that one goal to his name. “That if a new player comes in, I've got to raise my game and I'd like to think that everyone is like that. Because no-one likes to give their shirt away – or their place on the bench or their place in the squad away.”
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