The dust has just about settled (possibly) on a turbulent couple of weeks or so on planet Norwich City.
The latest ‘Hodgson’ break until the 22nd has created a vacuum in league action into which all manner of opinion, criticism and rumour has rushed with the predictability of a returning comet.
It all ‘kicked off’ with a painful and ugly crash landing in the dreary, barren landscape of Middlesbrough – a world away (well, 220 miles or so) from familiar vistas. That 4-0 pasting has to rank down there as one of the bleakest results in recent memory – the hammerings at stellar sides such as Man City and Liverpool were bad but this was ‘The Smoggies’ for heaven’s sake. It was a Teesside thrashing that left a nasty mark.
Still, a heavy defeat shapes character and resolve so it would surely be put right by pulling up a few trees with a Forest side whose star had been fading fast. KAPOW – two late blows delivered to the solar plexus of every Canary at the ground or tuning in back in Norfolk (or wherever on the globe you support from) as our defence imploded. There are many ways to lose a football match but that felt like the very worst.
A nervous glance at the table after 5pm that Saturday saw us back down to Earth with a bump, placed in double figures for the first time – below the mortal enemy and even below Brentford who we comfortably eclipsed just a few weeks back. Grim just got grimmer. It was a long and forgetful weekend.
Things soon livened up. First the departure of coach Mark Robson, which surprised everyone and for which the circumstances remain somewhat fuzzy. There are rumours abound that Neil Adams took exception to Robson blasting off at the players before he had had a chance to do likewise, but for now that’s conjecture.
Names (many and varied) quickly began to circulate to fill the black hole left behind. Presumably Adams is keen to get a new man in fast or at least before the countdown to the next home game when the Seagulls have landed.
Will it be an old favourite such as Ian Culverhouse or a Mike Phelan? The fallout of Culverhouse with Paul Lambert at Villa remains to be fully divulged, which may cast a shadow on his Carrow Road re-entry prospects. After being Sir Alex’s right-hand man, I can’t see Phelan settling into the dugout next to our fledgling manager somehow… but stranger things have happened of late.
Anything seems possible after the wacky world of football last week away from home base. From Roy Keane’s ‘altercation’ in a hotel foyer to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink going for a ‘Burton’ (just down the road from Nottingham) to the ‘Sheffield dilemma’ – “what to do with a man called Ched?”
One more incident worth a mention is the ‘exploding sauna‘ postponement. .
You can’t make this stuff up!
Add in a farcical World Cup ‘corruption-free’ report from FIFA which had all the hallmarks of a conspiracy worthy of that surrounding the moon-landing (what planet are they on in Zurich?), the quite frankly obscene claims of Wayne Rooney being a shooting star in the class of Bobbys Charlton and Moore, and thus the whole footballing cosmos was fully revealed in all of its bizarre splendour before the mighty Slovenia had even touched down.
All this in a week when man/woman-kind bounced a machine onto the surface of a big old ugly rock ploughing through deep space. Okay, it ended up with legs akimbo (much as did the City defence at Forest) but for a while I forgot about the comparatively minor grumblings circulating around Carrow Road and marveled at a mind-boggling technical achievement.
Hurtling back to planet Earth and the trials and tribulations of our crash-landed club, how will Neil and team salvage a tricky-looking situation?
Many a fan would rationally argue that we’re still closer to the top than the bottom of the table and there’s no need to press the big red PANIC button under the desk in mission control – aka the office of David McNally.
The CEO has come in for quite a barrage of criticism from some while others continue to applaud his financial prudence rather than focusing on any appointment errors which he may or may not be culpable for.
For me, at the risk of being overly dramatic, the next 5 games will make or break the Adams era in the top job. Will the season lift off again with the revised Adams family in control or will there be further horror shows to endure?
After last season when “Hughton – we have a problem,” was all too a familiar message which went unanswered, can Mr. McNally afford to lose another pitch commander so soon before the edgy and bewildered gaze of an expectant crowd?
With the classy-looking Derby waiting for us (game five of that run) on the 20th December, Neil needs to have fixed the faults, sent out the right signals and stopped us bouncing down a slippery slope. It’s not rocket science surely but will it prove to be mission impossible for him?
Watch this space…