City boss Glenn Roeder today opted to issue an unusually firm rebuttal of reports linking his No2 Lee Clark to the managerial vacancy at Huddersfield Town.
Nine times out of ten and such speculation goes unchallenged. Perhaps it was a sign of some anxious times that the Canary chief went to such lengths to deny the story after one national newspaper went so far as to claim that Clark had had a second interview with the Terriers and was all-but about to be rolled out to meet the Press; job done.
“Totally unfounded and untrue,” was Roeder's unequivocal statement to the club's official website today – said with the kind of certainty that rules out Clark being unveiled in the morning.
The feeling always was that Roeder's right-hand man is one of those characters in life that is loyal to the last and would not wish to be seen jumping ship at any stage – let alone when said ship is shipping water at an alarming rate following this weekend's 3-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.
Clark will be wholly loathe to leave the bridge whilst his long-time mentor is still at the wheel – as Roeder all but suggested as he knocked the whole story into the long grass.
“I have a very good relationship with Lee,” Roeder said.
“If he was about to join any other club I would know a long time before it got into the media,” added the City chief. “This is just wild speculation – and it's very unhelpful.”
Clark has already been linked to one managerial vacancy this season – that at Carlisle. Close to his native North-East roots, that might have had some substance to it though in every likelihood both manager and his No2 might have thought that the chance had come a mite too early; Roeder has long appeared to have taken a keen interest in the development of Clark's managerial career.
On that basis, you suspect when the opportunity does come it will be almost a joint decision between the pair; as and when both men feel that Clark's 'apprenticeship' is over, only then will he take his carefully-planned next step on the ladder.
“Lee is fully committed to myself and Norwich City – like all the rest of the backroom staff here,” added Roeder, who spent most of his summer firing one lot and then recruiting another.
“I have assembled the best backroom staff I have ever had and we all know we need to improve results – but that will be done wth the help of the players, staff and everybody at the club. And I stress everybody pulling in the right direction.”
Which was as close as Roeder has got to the kind of 'togetherness' speech that ex-boss Nigel Worthington delivered on a fairly regular basis. Certainly the Canaries will need to rediscover something akin to the 'Spirit Of 04' very, very quickly if the neighbours aren't to head south of the border with all the derby spoils.
Roeder would appear to be under few illusions as to just how big this game is – notwithstanding the usual tribal rivalries. For with away games at Watford and then Reading to follow, the Canaries can ill-afford to throw away any more points at home.
“We are facing our most important match of the season against Ipswich,” the manager confirmed. “A game I can assure our supporters everybody at Colney and Carrow Road is working very hard to prepare for and looking forward to greatly.”
The City boss should at least be cheered by events on the pitch tonight when Reading tightened their grip on that third spot with a comfortable 3-1 win over Coventry City in the live Sky game.
To add to his chances of securing Leroy Lita signature on a third month's loan deal, Royals' striker Noel Hunt took his tally for the season to ten with two goals for teh home side.
Given that his strike partner Kevin Doyle is already on 15, neither goals nor points are proving too hard to come by right now – all of which points to Lita being kept out in the Carrow Road shop window for another month as that January transfer window looms.