As the crass campaign to get rid of Glenn Roeder gathers support from destructive Pink Un posters and embittered writers, it is time to tell what I know about events when Peter Grant quit 15 months ago.
Norwich City, you recall, were at their lowest ebb for more than 40 years ? bottom of English football's second tier, four points below the safety line, packed with poor players and, as I wrote on this site at the time, looking like a team for whom relegation would only be the start of a long decline.
When Grant did the decent thing, two of the candidates to replace him were Paul Jewell and Paul Ince.
That much I know, but there is a lot I don't know. I am not sure, for instance, whether either had an interview. There are some things I can state categorically, however.
Jewell, whom I rated because he had taken both Bradford and Wigan into the Premier League, gave City the run-around for a couple of weeks. He told friends that he thought “a better club” would approach him and that he didn't want to live in Norfolk.
Ince asked a journalist friend of mine whether Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones intended to retain a controlling interest in the club, because, if not, he was not interested. He wanted somewhere stable, with owners he could trust.
I know some other stuff as well. I know that, just over a month later, Jewell joined Derby.
They did not win a single Premier League match under Jewell, who spent the remaining six months of the season saying how bad the players were.
Just before the end of the season he had to explain to his wife why there were pictures of him in the News of the World, hot, fat and sweaty, using the bonnet of his car to service another woman. You can imagine how that scandal would have played at Delia's family club.
Derby's start in the Championship was far worse than expected by a club with a parachute payment and Jewell finally resigned after a home defeat by Ipswich.
Now let me tell you what I know about Ince, who had a 40 per cent success rate as manager of Macclesfield and substantially better at MK Dons. I know that he repeatedly refused to “do his badges”, so when his appointment as manager of Blackburn took him into the Premier League there was embarrassment in that organisation.
Premier League managers must have a UEFA coaching qualification but the League give special, temporary exceptions to some with alibis. Roeder, for instance, was half-way through the qualification when he needed brain surgery. Gareth Southgate had spent many of his previous summers (when coaching courses are held) on England duty.
Ince had just not bothered to attend courses, but the Premier League felt that there had been so many precedents they had to make an exception for him as well.
At Blackburn, however, there was immediate disquiet about his lack of coaching acumen and old-fashioned training ground routines. He was sacked after just 21 games, of which he had won just six.
The story of the two Pauls poses a question for those who have lost patience with Roeder. The question is: if you drive him out, then what? Who do imagine Norwich would get to replace him? Luiz Felipe Scolari? Martin O'Neill?
Norwich City, a club of modest resources in an isolated, rural county, would have to do what they have always done ? appoint an unproven manager with apparent potential or someone who has lost his job elsewhere.
And so the next question is: why make the barmy assumption that the next bloke would arrive with a magic wand or a secret recipe for instant success?
Sacking someone is always the easy option. The hard bit is deciding what to do next.
Fortunately, despite assertions to the contrary, the anti-Roeder mob do not represent the majority opinion.
Although most of the 3,200 fans who went to Charlton chanted “Roeder, Roeder sort it out” (which he did, by the way) fewer than a third joined the choruses of “We want Roeder out!”.
Fortunately as well, Delia and Michael will be brave again. I know they were moved by the huge number of supporters who traveled to The Valley. They accept without hesitation that fans who show that sort of loyalty have an absolute right to voice frustration, disappointment and hurt.
On the four occasions during our friendship that I have heard about exceptionally appalling behaviour towards Smith and Wynn Jones ? personal, in-their-faces abuse and threats ? our majority shareholders have excused the offenders because the behaviour was motivated by passion for the club.
So they'll take the stick again this time. They won't sack Roeder.
For my part, I think our manager has made mistakes. I believe that his sarcasm at the AGM and since was profoundly misguided.
I know that, after having West Ham fans call him “Tumour Boy” and hearing Newcastle supporters say they wish he'd died, he probably doesn't have a very high opinion of football supporters generally. But Norfolk folk don't enjoy being the butt of irony and don't deserve it.
As far as his football work at Norwich is concerned, I'd say Roeder has done a thorougly good job. He inherited a desperately poor squad and has improved the quality of players enormously. When they play well, they are a joy to behold and are capable of out-passing teams like Wolves and Reading.
But it's a work in progress. There have been some dismal individual and collective lapses. That is what happens. It's called football.
If we'd managed to go through the season with Dejan Stefanovic and John Kennedy at centre-back, we'd have shipped far fewer goals. The problem, as always, is that we don't have a couple of 20-goal strikers.
But, I'd rather have Roeder raiding the ranks of Premier League clubs for temporary reinforcements than someone who thought John Hartson was the answer to our prayers. Taking players on loan makes sense if they are good players.
So it was a sound policy when Peter Crouch and Darren Huckerby came our way and equally sound when Martin Taylor improved our defence for a month.
I know, from talking to men like Arsene Wenger, that clubs want to help Roeder and trust him with their charges. So it would be insane to get rid of him and go through the process of trying to find another Tom, Dick or Paul just as the transfer window is open.
In fact, it would be insane to get rid of Roeder, full stop.
If you'd told me, 15 months ago that we would stay up last season, I would not have believed you. If you had then said that a new manager would get rid of most of the dead wood and bring in players of the calibre of Sammy Clingan and Wes Hoolahan, I would have been overjoyed.
If you'd added: “We'll have a disappointing season in the Championship in 2008-09…”, I would have tried to see the bigger picture. I would have tried to take a longer-term view.
I am relieved we didn't get Ince or Jewell. I think we've got a jewel.
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