Glenn Roeder's fervent wish that he never sets eyes again on Billericay official Andy D'Urso probably deepened yet further this morning as the Canary chief and his No2, Lee Clark, were formally charged with 'improper conduct' by the Football Association in relation to events at the end of Norwich's 2-1 defeat at Bristol City nine days ago.
The simple announcement was made on the FA's own website this morning.
It read: “Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder and assistant manager Lee Clark have both been charged with improper conduct.
“The charges relate to the pair's behaviour towards match officials at the end of Norwich's match against Bristol City on 29 March.
“Roeder and Clark have until 21 April to respond to the charge.”
The statement was then re-issued on the Canaries' own official website.
Roeder admitted himself that he had broken the habit of a life-time at Ashton Gate when he approached D'Urso in the furious aftermath of that defeat. Events turned on a hugely controversial handball call in the third minute of stoppage time with the referee adjudging that it was Lee Croft, not Jamie McCombe who had handled the ball.
Subsequent TV replays would prove beyond doubt that it was McCombe's offence, not Croft's. The fact that – according to Roeder – the fourth official even told D'Urso that he had got the decision wrong before the fateful free-kick was hurled into the Canary box for Steve Brooker to head home merely fuelled the anger on the Canary bench.
“I've never, ever – in all my life – remonstrated with a referee after a game by walking straight onto the pitch,” said Roeder immediately afterwards. The fact that the Canaries had wholly dominated the game and the result – at the time – left them hovering uneasily just four points above the drop zone merely added to his evident fury as he struggled to stay this side of the line with the Press afterwards.
The impression now remains that both Roeder and Clark might – in the FA's eyes – have already crossed that conduct line with their reactions at the final whistle. In the midst of the mayhem some suggested that Clark was sent to the stands as tempers boiled over.
“And I'm not pleased with myself – I'm not pleased with myself at all,” added the City chief. “But that was how strong I felt about D'Urso's performance. Particularly the incident that led to their winning goal.”
It was the role of the fourth official – seemingly powerless to overturn the official's initial decision – that really got Roeder's motor running.
“I've got the fourth official screaming in my ear: 'Glenn, the Bristol City player has handled the ball. I can clearly see that…' And that's before the free-kick's taken.
“He [D'Urso] even actually came over before the free-kick was taken. And the fourth official told him: 'It was a Bristol City player that handled the ball…' But he had gone by then. His lights had gone out. He wouldn't listen and the ball ends up in the back of the net.
“It's not acceptable. If a referee got that wrong on a Sunday morning pitch, he'd be cried down. If D'Urso can't get those simple decisions right, my God, where's he going?”
Depending on whether or not Roeder and Clark demand a personal hearing or not, they could now be going to Soho Square to answer the improper conduct charge today laid at their door.
Speaking before Saturday's home clash with Burnley, it was clear that the whole injustice of the Bristol City affair still rankled with the Canary boss; that D'Urso, likewise, remained firmly off the Roeder Christmas card list.
“They played fantastic last week,” Roeder said on Friday. “But because one man can't get a Sunday morning football decision correct, we get beat. And if I never see D'Urso again, I'll be the happiest man in the world.”
Quizzed as to whether he had, at that stage, heard anything from the FA, Roeder said not.
“No,” he said. “It was controlled anger.”
The game's fourth official – Danny Roberts – is likely to find himself firmly in the spotlight if both Roeder and Clark opt to make a vigorous defence of their actions.
Speaking straight afterwards, Roeder certainly suggested that the fourth official himself knew that D'Urso was in the wrong as he tried to calm Clark down on the touchline.
“The fourth official [Danny Roberts] was consistently telling Lee Clark: 'Look, Lee, there's nothing I can do about it. I can clearly see that a Bristol City player had handled the ball; has knocked it forward; D'Urso's got it badly wrong – there's nothing I can do…'”
Quizzed then as to whether Clark was dismissed to the stands – the game would, of course, finish some 30 seconds later – Roeder was intent on drawing a line on events. “No, no – there's no story for you there…” he told reporters at Ashton Gate.
The whole story has, however, resurfaced with a vengence this morning – a story that may yet have to be retold in all its grisly detail should the City management team take up the opportunity to personally respond to today's improper conduct charge.
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