Well, Stan was not expecting that. Defeat, yes; relegation, yes. But a wholesale capitulation to rank alongside the Fulham debacle of 2005? No.
As it was, 3 May 2009 will go down in history not just as the day that Norwich City were relegated to Division Three (aka League One), but as the day in which our footballing representatives brought shame on the club and our Fine City.
Korey, Cody and Lee aside, the players fell to new lows.
Some appeared to succumb to nerves (Doc, Marshall), some suffered from Gunny's line-up (Shacks), some simply revealed their ineptitude (John O, Leijer, Lappin), and some just did not seem to try (Mooney, Rusty and Clinghan).
All in all, it was a farce and an insult to the 3,300 City fans who made the journey. As we all sang 'Do you even give a s***' to the rabble in yellow shirts being out-played by supposedly the worst team in the division, Stan hoped that at least one or two of 'our boys' would feel a pang of conscience.
Not likely … but what else could we do?
Ultimately, of course, the defeat at Charlton was but the full stop to a very long and drawn-out (death) sentence.
Ever since our Premiership adventure fell foul, the club has been set on a downward trajectory. Our final fall from grace was never inevitable, but it was coming from the moment we began the 2004-5 season without a lead striker and with two centre-backs that stood less than six-foot tall.
Once we plopped back into the Championship, a combination of bad financial management and poor transfer choices ensured that we missed our first chance of stopping the proverbial rot.
2005-6 was a disaster on and off the pitch, stemmed only by the residues of quality that remained within an increasingly lop-sided and dis-unified squad.
Change was needed. But no action was taken until zonal marking and a lack of squad (and financial) reorganisation brought Worthy's reign to an unseemly end. By 2006, City were evidently in trouble.
A period of consolidation was necessary; the finances needed restructuring and the squad needed realigning.
The chance of a quick return to the Premiership was gone; action needed to be taken to steady the ship and to maintain our position over the ensuing two or three seasons.
To achieve this, the board unveiled Peter Grant as the man to oversee our revival. Just when an old head was needed, a man who could engender respect whilst squeezing the best from a relatively small squad of mixed-ability players, the board plumped for a rookie. Predictably, it proved a disaster.
Clearly out of his-depth, Grant failed to galvanise the squad he inherited and contrived to bring in a steady trickle of players of ever-diminishing quality.
By 2007-8, as players were sold from beneath his feet, and as the 'pull' of Norwich withered with the loss of the Premiership parachute, so Grant blew his transfer budget on mediocrity and injected such confusion onto the pitch that we found ourselves in the bottom three with just nine games played and with footballing meltdown staring us in the face.
To his credit, Grant accepted his fate and fell on his sword. All was not lost, the chance to bring in that old head was once more presented to the board.
This time, of course, it was Glenn Roader who entered the City Press Room.
Initially, at least, he appeared to know what was needed. In came Martin Taylor, in came a solid 4-4-2 formation, and in came Ched Evans. The team briefly rallied, before stuttering to safety with a couple of games to spare.
Simultaneously, however, the rot was still spreading. The debt was increasing, a policy of relying on loan players and sanctioning wage packets that far exceeded our income was becoming the norm, and the tensions that existed between the management and the players (not to mention the fans) were often played out in public.
Come 2008-9, and we began the season without Huckerby and with a squad of players made up in large part of men whose loyalties lay elsewhere and who knew they would not be at Carrow Road come the new year (let alone the end of the season).
True, the injury to Stefanovic was unlucky. But his collapse occurred with us in the bottom six and with gaps in an already limited squad that would remain unfilled for much of the season. Roader's departure left us further in the mire, leaving Gunn to inherit a mess that he had neither the experience nor the means to sort out.
As it is, we now face the prospect of league one football and yet another merry-go-round of players in and out.
The spectre of administration hangs over us; the lack of even a core of a committed squad means we will almost certainly not 'do a Leicester'; and discontent between board and fans is mounting.
For what it's worth, Stan would urge Gunn to stand down. We need an experienced manager who can work with young players and with little-to-no budget.
We need to keep our expectations for next season realistic. To finish in the top half with a coterie of promising youngsters and a few old heads forming the basis for future advancement will constitute a success.
The future is bleak, but the faith must still remain.
OTBC (not RIP).
Leave a Reply