If you get the chance, have a read of our Stanley this evening. And if you're not one of our two subscribers, get your cut and paste man to get to work…
Cos he's spot on.
I can't remember the last England game I watched; or at least not with the hearts of Three Lions thumping away in my chest.
Am I 'bovvered' that I missed Saturday's World Cup epic? No. Why? For exactly the point that our Stan makes – how many of those England players every look that 'bovvered' to you?
You can write the script beforehand; particularly as soon as anyone decides to pair Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the same midfield. One or either, or all too often both, will just go through the motions come England games.
They're not bovvered.
Invariably the players that are are those without the money in the bank; the WAG on their arm. Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips. Those two I'd watch; they still have a certain, innocent enthusiasm about them.
Is Michael Owen the player he once was? Is Wayne Rooney? For as long as a hair-dryer awaits in the Old Trafford dressing room, then he is in the red of Manchester United. In the white of England, has Rooney got that raw edge to his game any more? Or has he too grown too fat on the land, his international senses dulled by the other-worldly life he leads in the Premiership?
Because Stanley is completely right when he says that the modern, professional footballer is growing increasingly distant from the supporter. Absolutely. His thoughts this afternoon merely mirrored a conversation we were having in the pub at lunch-time… how the fact that Ipswich Town's attendances have dipped below 20,000 for the first time in many a long year might, actually, reveal something of a deeper malaise setting into the average supporter's mind-set.
Something that – on this occasion – had little to do with 'typically fickle Suffolk supporters'; it can't be so easily pigeon-holed away into those age-old rivalries; that if every Norwich fan looked at themselves long and hard in the mirror, they might start to sense a similar fatigue; a disengagement; a distance developing between themselves and players that were – to quote Stanley – once 'one of us', but now are 'one of them'.
The weariness is not with their beloved Canaries as an institution; as a symbolic heart of their local community. That loyalty, that passion is engrained as deep as ever into their DNA. What is in danger is their belief in the commitment of the professional players that wear the shirt.
Why is that all of a sudden under the spotlight?
Because for the vast majority of this country, the current financial climate asks big questions of every penny we spend. It puts our jobs at risk; our mortgages; our pensions; our futures and those of our kids bang on the line.
And all through the excesses of another 'community' who live in a similar gilded bubble to Ashley Cole and Co; an effectively care-free existence financially that is way beyond our own experience and knowledge; yes, life might have suddenly got slightly 'choppy' for derivative traders, sub-prime speculators and hedge-fund financiers, but they – like England's 'heroes' – have all the cushions they ever need already in place to survive this current 'hic-cup' in their usual life-style.
They're not worrying where the next 50p for the 'lectric is coming from. It just won't be two weeks in Antibes this summer; the skiing in Klosters is off for a season. That's the level of their 'hardship'.
Whilst times are good on the terraces, then the whole 'them' and 'us' debate carries far less significance.
When times are bad – and, potentially, about to get a whole lot worse as we all suddenly start to feel the real burden of bailing out the bankers – football faces a big, big challenge if it wants to keep its place in the affections of the common working man.
Look back now at the most popular players of this current Canary generation and, for me, three spring readily to mind – Darren Huckerby, Lee Croft and Jamie Cureton.
Why? Because they bring a sense of really caring to the party; others may care just as much – if not more. Mark Fotheringham falls squarely into that camp.
But those three, in particular, have a better bond than most; somehow those three 'get' Norwich and Norfolk. There's not any sense of them 'just passing through…' Even if Huckerby has passed on, his spirit still lingers.
And therein lies the danger with Premiership loans – particularly in this current financial climate; particularly if they fail to deliver; look less than 'bovvered' in a way that all too often England players do these days.
Norwich City, as a football club, is at its strongest when there is no 'them' and 'us'. Towards the end as the poison seeped around the system, Nigel Worthington's 'togetherness' speeches almost became a stick to beat him with, but you could barely put a fag packet between both the Cardiff team of 2002 and the title-winning team of 2004 and the supporters.
Times – on and off the pitch – were good. Everyone was as one.
Now, however, times are tough. Off the pitch, in particular.
And that's what football – and footballers – have to recognise more than ever. People are paying good money to not only be entertained, but to see people work hard for their living. To really appreciate how lucky they are to be in such a hugely well-paid job as the rest of us stare into the eye of a recession.
They need to look 'bovvered'. More 'bovvered' than the ever have done before.