'Football changes with a flick of the finger, it changes very quickly�' � Glenn Roeder, after the Charlton game last Tuesday.
Well, that's one thing he got right � even if he didn't realise that the finger was about to flick the switch on his ejector seat.
The atmosphere at Carrow Road on Saturday was transformed immediately by his departure, as was the performance on the pitch. And how great it was to hear 'He's got no hair but we don't care' ring out for Gunny again, even if I am duty-bound to draw attention to the song's disconcerting subtext: that baldness would be a legitimate cause for serious misgivings in other circumstances.
The speed with which the board acted last week was astonishing (for them), even though it was obvious to all except Roeder that the situation had deteriorated irretrievably over the last month. (By the end, his repeated declarations that he was 'up for the fight' sounded the misguided belligerence of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
We have to hope that the board acts with similar speed this week in appointing a new manager. It shouldn't take long; can they really appoint anyone other than Aidy Boothroyd?
The other leading candidates can be dismissed fairly quickly. Paul Ince's arrogance (seasoned with just a hint of paranoia) is not what we need after Roeder � and his track record suggests that he'd want to be off again in five minutes after any sort of success.
Mark Robins is promising, but inexperienced � and maybe doesn't know much about the particular demands of the Championship. Aage Hareide has a decent CV � but again, may well be unfamiliar with our league. And turning the clock back to the Bruce Rioch era doesn't inspire me either.
Boothroyd, on the other hand, has plenty going for him. He knows the club, having been here before � and bringing Malky with him would strengthen that connection further.
He has experience of our current situation; when he took over at Watford in 2005, they were sinking towards relegation to League One with only seven games left. He helped them get the wins they needed to stay up.
He turned Watford around, not by spending a fortune, but by improving the players he had and transforming struggling players he picked up from other clubs. Players like Marlon King, who paid tribute to his ability in an interview with the PFA website in August 2006:
'He (Boothroyd) was part of the coaching staff at Leeds and when he became manager he remembered me from there. I liked his honesty. When I first met him he told me where I should be, which was nowhere near where I was, and he was right.
'He's a new breed of manager. His man-management skills are brilliant. He didn't have a great playing career but he wants to be a top manager and I'm not surprised he's already being talked about as a future England coach.
'The gaffer accepts that everyone has their demons. But I think we've been good for each other. I scored 21 league goals last season and we got promoted, so it has gone well. He's a friend as well and I've invited him to my wedding next year.'
Boothroyd's approach is rooted in positive thinking, as he explained to the Guardian earlier that year:
'If you tell a player what he can't do, or look for what he can't do, then that is exactly what you'll see. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
'And not only will you see it, you'll tell others about it and, if they are not of strong character then they'll agree with your opinion. Before you know it, a big opinion is made of somebody and it is not necessarily true. If you look for what people can do and what they're good at, then you'll find it.'
Given the way our last three managers have highlighted perceived failings in Huckerby and Cureton (and achieved nothing by doing so), this seems a refreshing attitude to me.
We also need a change from Roeder's intransigence. Boothroyd again, in that same Guardian interview:
'People have set opinions; mine aren't set. Maybe the flexibility marks me out, I don't know. They say when you get older you get softer, you're no longer the angry young man. Well, I still want to change the world but I want to change it by being a little bit calmer.'
Of course, the big charge levelled at Boothroyd that he is a Route One merchant; 'Aidy Hoofroyd', in fact.
But it's likely that he played that way at Watford simply because he had to make the most of the tools at his disposal; it doesn't follow that he would play the same way here.
He seems bright enough to know that City supporters wouldn't put up with it � though we would do well not to be too precious about the need for flowing, attractive football since in reality we haven't played it consistently since the early 90s.
He also spoke last September about studying different styles of football: 'I need exposure to European football. I am going to watch European matches, do TV matches, and learn Spanish.'
That doesn't sound like someone committed to playing one way only.
He has good connections within the game (always cited as Roeder's trump card, of course): 'If I ever have a problem I can talk to Sir Alex. If I need some advice, I can� speak to Arsene. I have learnt from Arsene about how he treats his players, listens to them, and allows them to grow.'
Finally, he's ambitious: 'I am a big fan of the underdog and my dream is to take a team from obscurity and turn it into a European Cup winner. People say that a Nottingham Forest will never happen again but perhaps in the Uefa Cup it can. It nearly did at Middlesbrough.'
The phrase 'prudence with ambition' has become a tarnished one over the last few seasons; could Boothroyd be the person to at least change the billing order?
I think he's worth a shot.
And finally� a child indoctrination update. At a toddlers' gym group last week, our two-year-old son refused to join in a ball game when he was given a blue one. He only joined in when he was handed a yellow one.
'That's my boy,' I choked.
Leave a Reply