We apologise, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the interruption of your programme. Please be assured that normal service has now been resumed…
Oh well, Stan enjoyed it while it lasted. Three days of feeling chipper, happy in the knowledge that we have players who care; that we beat the old enemy; that we can actually win football matches every now and again.
So demob happy was Stan that the passing of Lee Clark did not really hit home.
Even the signing of Carl Cort was received with a sense of 'This could work…' rather than: 'He'll be injured and out by Boxing Day…'
Now, however, reality has once more descended and the same old Norwich City (Roeder model) remains.
The characteristics of our current side are well-known. We tend to play decent football. We pass the ball well at times; even stepping up to a high tempo for sustained patches.
In most games this season, we have dominated possession; the midfield looks effective overall.
On only three occasions can Stan remember us being wholly out-gunned in the middle of the pitch for the duration of a match (Barnsley, QPR, Burnley).
Clingan has proven himself to be an exceptional player, and his co-conspirators – including the wide men – have all done their bit (especially Croft and Patty), going so far as to actually SCORE GOALS.
Unfortunately, these more positive traits have been undone by our very evident inadequacies elsewhere. These are, of course, poor defending and weakness in attack.
Let's take the defence first.
With Drury's experience apparently surplus to requirements, we have tried and failed to forge a rearguard around three young and promising, but inconsistent full backs, an old-head who had begun to look off the pace before he got crocked, the ever willing but frustrating Doc, and the fine but put-upon Kennedy.
All sorts of formations have been tested; yet the penalties and soft goals from set-pieces continue.
Last night, even Marshall got in on the act, meaning that we again bossed a game for 90 minutes only to lose because the opposition took their two, rather pathetic chances and we failed to take ours.
Oh for a Martin Taylor; oh for a solid and experienced defence that can do the basics as a matter of instinct.
Up the other end, the problems are somewhat different. We started the season lightweight up front. The wait for Iversen proved fruitless, Sibi proved a makeshift solution of questionable (or only occasional) quality; the heir to Iwan, Deano and Dion failed to appear.
Instead, Curo lost it, Arturo upset the boss and continues to lack a 'protector' of the sort Steve Howard provided him at Derby, and OJ hurt himself after a few brief (and goal-less) cameos of 'jury out' propensity.
We do have, temporarily, the indefatigable Lita, whose tireless running into the channels helps us create chances for which there is no-one to convert unless our hard-working midfield can get far enough up the pitch.
Certainly, the belated placing of Wes in the hole appears to offer one way out, though this was denied us at Watford.
Put bluntly, Carl Cort needs to be a man of legendary status or we will go down, almost certainly.
However well you play, you do not win games if you do not score goals and you let in a goal every time the oppositon shoots.
A final word on Lee Clark. He seemed a good man; passionate and a role model for the players.
Indeed, Stan fears that the player's commitment to the club and eachother was forged more by the passion of Clark than it was by the pseudo-Wengerisms and rather hard faced approach of Roeder. We shall see.
As it is, Stan wishes him well, though he does wonder if the top job may have been his here had he just hung on a while … Oh well, it's only Reading on Saturday…