City boss Bryan Gunn this morning admitted that he had left “disappointed” by the reaction of club skipper Mark Fotheringham to his second-half substitution against Coventry City on Saturday.
And with the Canary chief vowing to shake things up ahead of tomorrow night's trip to Queen's Park Rangers, the odds on Fotheringham starting might be shortening by the hour as Gunn desperately goes in search of a new, winning formula.
“It's difficult for players in front of 25,000 people when things aren't going well,” said Gunn, after watching Fotheringham storm off straight down the tunnel after being replaced by Darel Russell. The crowd's reaction to the switch undoubtedly didn't help the skipper's mood.
But in the tense, dread-laden atmosphere that naturally descends on Carrow Road when you're stuck fast in the bottom three of the Championship, someone will always get to carry the can.
“You can always hear the moans and groans at certain times – so I can understand his frustrations.”
A big 'but' was about to follow – one that suggested that Russell could yet start again at Rangers tomorrow night.
“But as captain of the club I was disappointed with his reaction,” said the City boss, his managerial learning curve growing steeper with every passing game.
The fact that Gunn thought about each and every word as he spoke suggested that he knew that he was swimming in some tricky political waters; big and public fall-outs with the club skipper in the midst of a bitter relegation fight isn't always big or clever – but then nor was Fotheringham's reaction.
Certain nettles may have to be grasped; lines drawn. His evident passion and commitment to the Canary cause channelled into new directions.
“Sometimes you've got to be big and brave enough to take these knocks on the chin,” added Gunn.
“It happens at football clubs – there's always someone that the crowd will have issues with. On their style of play; on their achievements in that particular game. Or whether it's more long-standing than that.
“But, again, you expect experienced professionals to be able to cope with that.”
He was, however, still very much in the manager's thoughts for tomorrow night – or, at least, he'll be on the bus to London later this afternoon.
“Fozzy will be in the squad for tomorrow night,” Gunn confirmed. “We'll have a sit down and a chat with certain individuals and make sure that their frame of mind is correct – that everything we need at this particular moment in time is right.”
The captaincy was not, however, on the line.
“He's still club captain and if he does start, then he'll still be captain,” added Gunn, who has turned to Saturday's Man of the Match Gary Doherty before now captain-wise.
The 29-year-old Republic of Ireland international is one of those with a big, genuine heart – someone fit for the trenches ahead.
Gunn would also add Carl Cort to that list after revealing that the one-time, ?7 million striker was ending up looking like a pin cushion as he keeps various bumps and knocks at bay in the Canary cause. None of which had anything to do with that original knee injury which has dogged Cort's career.
“To give Corty a lot of credit, he passed another fitness test on Saturday morning to get himself on the pitch – and a different injury to that which he'd previously got at Preston.
“And he gave us 90 minutes. To give him credit, he'll be fit for the game on Tuesday night – and that's the sort of attitude and commitment that we need from everybody at this time.”
Ditto Jason Shackell who picked up a slight knock off a challenge from Leon Best. He, too, is expected to declare himself fit for the Rangers game.
In the meantime, it was a case of keeping everyone's chins up; of keeping a positive tone and presence about the place as the Canaries face the fight of their Championship lives over the next two months.
“It's down to the coaching staff and the people around the training ground to lift those spirits,” said the City chief, never one to shy away from adversity. In either his personal or professional life.
Whether he has enough of the right tools at his disposal to do the mammoth job that awaits over the next 11 games is another matter.
“Some of the players might be feeling a bit down – but that's football. And it's not changed since my day.
“I've been in awkward situations and your characters and your leaders come through. And this is what we need now.”