Like all of us, I could easily get our daily newspaper delivered. But I choose not to as a 500-metre walk to the local newsagent is a pleasant experience.
The owners and their family are City diehards and several customers are like-minded. I have spent many an interesting five or ten minutes in there discussing all things Norwich City. It is often a source of interesting rumour – much of which proves to be unfounded, but the occasional nugget of truth can be unearthed.
On the morning of the Huddersfield match, they were having their front door and facade repainted. As the usual conversation developed, the decorator put down his paintbrush, picked up his mug of tea and spontaneously joined in. As you do and as you should do.
He explained in the most lucid terminology why he had not darkened the doors of Carrow Road since the day Gunny was appointed manager. Somebody, maybe me, asked him why. He linked it to addiction, and said that it takes a while to get it out of your system, but once you’re clean you can remain so.
His key point was that he did not want to give the Smith clan any of his hard-earned. He also said he would be watching on Sky and said I was a fool to add £20 to my match-day expenses through minicab costs – my painful back issue continues.
I responded by saying something like: “I have to go. It’s in the blood”.
He said: “It was in mine too. In my DNA. But I’ve got rid of it and I no longer have to share your disappointment”.
On the short walk back home I remembered an almost identical conversation with my best footy mate and his brother, who is MD of one of the best-known and most traditionally-based businesses in Norwich (IE He knows better than most of us when he is getting value for money).
Like his brother, he was also a decent semi-pro. He also had said he would never go again while the Smiths were at the helm. He doesn’t even take up brother Keith’s ticket when it’s occasionally available, so as well as being a great guy he’s a man of his word.
Half-charged with optimism I entered the ground, thinking about what these folks were missing. I was there, they weren’t. What unfolded has already been well described by Gary (Gowers) and I will only add there were no blissful bunny rabbits in the Barclay. We were uniformly bemused, annoyed, distressed (insert word of your choice) when Nelson was subbed. Nothing going on for us, chasing a game and it’s striker for striker?
No Alex Neil, you got it wrong.
Then our blessed band of youngsters down below sang to Delia that she should “sort it out”. My dad used to say lots of things, but one of his more memorable utterances was: “there is none as deaf as those who will not listen”. He also said: “you can’t educate pork”, which was most likely directed at me when I’d stuffed something up.
But, his points remain valid and relevant in this context.
It really is time for the change. After Villa, I wrote that Alex Neil had earned a further chance to put things right. Well, quite frankly, he’s blown it. I’m not screaming for Gary Rowett or any other individual – certainly not Roy Hodgson, anyway – but something has to change.
Our faults are pretty much fundamental and plain to see. We don’t have the physical strength to cope with a largely young and hungry side like Huddersfield.
Why were Wes Hoolahan or Alex Pritchard not put into the mix with, say, 20 minutes to go?
Where was the protection for our over-maligned centre backs?
Why does Neil feel the need to scream and shout like an aggravated banshee at his players? He picked them, he should trust them.
Like us all, I could go on and on. And on.
Nothing will improve under Alex Neil – I am now convinced of that. Yes, Huddersfield played really well, matched our set-up and out-fought us and out-thought us. Fair play to them and they deserved their three points. But despite playing in red, they weren’t exactly Liverpool or Man United.
So Delia, what if anything are you going to do? The Barclay – my Barclay – have politely asked you to “sort it out”. I can see things getting rather less polite and diplomatic if you keep your head in the sand. No ill-will or anything, but it really is time to do something. At this rate there won’t be much to pass on to your nephew.
There is still time, so let’s do something.
The only person who should have the sack at Christmas is Santa, but I can see a case for an extra issue this festive season.
And I’m not referring to the paperboys whose services I eschew in the pursuit of a good old chat.