Aficionados of talkSPORT will know that the mid-morning slot once occupied by Colin Murray is now the home of one Jim White.
Yes, that Jim White.
Whether he is suited & booted and adorning that yellow tie as he chats to his ‘friends’ and guests will, for now, remain a mystery but until someone tells me otherwise I’m content to believe he is.
And he’s done a decent job. Murray was a tough act to follow and he’s getting there.
This week one of his fellow presenters was our own Dean Ashton and along with BT Sport’s Des Kelly they discussed, amongst other things, the subject of loyalty in football, specifically that of players.
Deano was, unsurprisingly, brutal in his assessment. ‘Player loyalty? There is none.’
And of course he is right. Players have a short career – sometimes much shorter than they intend, as Ashton can testify – and have a duty to their families to earn the best living possible.
And unless you’re Steven Gerrard or John Terry that means moving around in order to secure the best payday possible.
The trouble is, as fans, as folk who bleed green and yellow and who have time, money and emotion invested heavily in our football club, that’s a tricky one to reconcile.
How can they not love Norwich City as much as we do?
But, unless they’re ‘one of our own’ there’s no way that could possibly be the case. Why would they?
Yet by and large this is not an issue. As much as we’d love them to see Norwich City FC through our eyes there is a reluctant underlying acceptance that, while their kissing of the badge may sometimes seem a tad hollow, they’ll at the very least give their all for the club they’re representing. 100 per cent. Total commitment.
And while that’s occurring the marriage has legs. An acceptance on our part that they are here to earn some money and, while doing so, will try and bring some success to the club, and an appreciation on their part that they will give their absolute everything in pursuit of that success.
But the cracks start to appear if the players’ side of that deal is reneged upon. And that’s a little bit how it feels right now, hence the recent over-use of the word ‘toxic’.
And it’s because for us, to see anyone wearing the yellow shirt not give 100 per cent (sorry, I refuse to use 110 percent – I was once an accountant) is simply unforgivable. Unfathomable.
These guys have been handed a golden ticket. The chance to walk out on that Carrow Road turf, wearing the yellow shirt, in front of 26,000 adoring fans, tasked with representing our football club is literally the stuff of dreams. And to be paid handsomely to do so?
I’d offer up a limb to be offered that opportunity (albeit obviously that’d be counter-productive) yet some of our current crop, those who have been handed that honour, appear to scoff.
The body language screams ‘I’m a professional footballer, get me out of here’ and they go through the motions. To them, in their head, they’re still putting in a shift, chasing, putting in tackles etc, but it’s hollow and without heart.
And we’re not completely stupid. We can see it a mile off. They’ve been rumbled.
And I’m not just talking about our Irish left-back/midfielder, although his sprightly display for the Republic of Ireland last night did confirm there is still a good footballer in there somewhere. Others give off that same disdainful air.
You can be sure there are some agents who already are prepping for the January window – their clients having issued the ‘get me out of here’ instruction – but it’s an odd mindset that perceives downing tools as a preferable option to putting oneself in the shop window by performing well.
But, from the outside looking in, Alex Neil has a major job on his hands right now to bring harmony to a dressing room that appears fractured, dispirited and, in some cases, disinterested.
And there’s more…
Ed’s masterful piece of writing on Friday told of Theo Epstein’s role in transforming the Chicago Cubs from nobodies into World Series winners and how one of his golden rules was to only hire players who perceived playing for the club as a step up.
While there are clearly exceptions to this rule – Darren Huckerby being the most obvious – it is one that’s pertinent to Neil’s current conundrum.
There are players here who have taken very obvious steps down to be here, others sideways, who are slap bang in the middle of the current malaise; their half-heartedness the upshot of said ‘I’m doing you a favour by being here’ mindset.
And that’s another factor that’s playing out badly in the dressing room and is contributing to the tension between players and fans.
We’ve grown a little tired of hearing that they are hurting as much as we are and that they’re working their socks off on the fields of Colney to put things right. When those words are backed up by precisely zilch on the pitch they drift off into the ether as freely as one of Brady’s over-hit free-kicks.
Neil appears untouchable, given the tone of the Smith, Jones and Moxey interviews, so all we can hope for right now is that the Alex Neil of 2015 vintage dramatically reappears, grabs this dressing room by its wotsits and can somehow get his squad of capable technicians to re-engage.
And while I’m not holding my breath, let’s hope one or two have enough of a conscience to put in a proper shift and, in doing so, acknowledge how much this all means to the Yellow Army.
Because we won’t we going anywhere.