My favourite artist is Ronnie Wood of Rolling Stones and Faces fame, but the piece of artwork I love the best is “The Lady of Shallot” by one John William Waterhouse, painted in 1888.
Waterhouse was a relatively minor pre-Raphaelite, probably away with the fairies like most of them, but I don’t care about that. I spent all my pocket money on a massive print of the painting at the Tate Gallery on a school trip about 1973. Somehow I got the item home safely. It was later properly framed and has been installed above my various fireplaces for many a long moon.
The Arthurian legend and Tennyson poem that inspired that painting I won’t bore you with, but the boat the Lady embarked on to attempt her doomed mission carried three candles. One had a tiny flicker of light, probably going into a gentle breeze that would soon blow it out.
Just like our play-off hopes – that little spark is still there. Somehow.
The atmosphere at the weekend against Barnsley was as flat as a certain part of a witch’s anatomy. There is no hiding from that. It was only after a couple of final scores from elsewhere were shared that the beat picked up a little – on the walk down the Barclay stairs in my case.
Jacob scored a well-taken goal and Naismith looked interested, so there were at least two positives.
Plus we probably had the most expensive bench in Norwich City history.
Looking forward at our fixtures between now and Armageddon, the play-offs are unlikely. But the flicker of desperate hope flickereth still, as it were.
Meanwhile we eventually had, to paraphrase Russell Martin, the exciting announcement we would all be pleased with.
Funnily enough, as telegraphed as it was, I wasn’t too disappointed. Not excited and most certainly not inspired, because it was wholly predictable. But…
I do not get why so many people on social media appear to want a manager, head coach or whatever you want to call him, in now. Why pick up what’s left after Derby and Forest have jumped like scalded frogs?
For once I’m with the Board because although our season has a little spark left in it, realistically it’s a tiny pinpoint of light indeed.
Surely the Director of Sport (whatever kind of title is that exactly?) must come in first. It’s logical, sensible and surely that person must have a direct input relating to the selection and recruitment of a Head Coach?
And there is realistically not much out there in terms of available managers just now who need to be snapped up yesterday. We’re not going down and we’re highly unlikely to go up. Let’s see what happens.
These frankly ridiculous polls that veer from Aitor Karanka to Steve Cotterill via Alan Pardew mean nothing to me. Or many of us, I suspect.
At Saturday’s game, I heard opinions on the ideal dream team varying from Alan Irvine and Ricky Martin (don’t tempt me, I try to be polite) to Mike Phelan and Ryan Giggs.
The usual Laurel and Hardy, Tom and Jerry and Simon and Garfunkel comments were made also.
We don’t know what the Board are going to do, but I realise one thing. The Sporting Director appointment will probably be the most crucial in the recent history of Norwich City.
Do I know who that will be just now? No, I don’t. But I really hope the Board do. They should, by now. Due diligence is a process that cannot last forever.
I’ve only removed one word – and replaced it with two – from a verse of the Tennyson poem I said I wouldn’t bore you with but I thought I’d put it anyway as it seems appropriate:
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all her own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Carrow Road.
But you never know – one or two good appointments and we might well be back on track. Here’s hoping.
In the words of Ralph Ellison-
‘life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat’
What’s really sad is that for so much of this season the team have given up so often as to barely warrant that claim of humanity. This season is done for. We need the new set up in place, we need the coach and sporting director to get to grips with things and make sure we hit the ground running next season.
This sporting director, as you say, is an interesting one. Get it right and we could be in for a much needed brutal summer, which is why taking your time is key. There will be a couple of strange close season sackings, but I suspect the new SD will already have a good idea of the motivational puppet they’d like in place.
Stewart Lewis says
Not sure that my niece, currently doing her PhD on the PreRaphaelites, would appreciate them being summarised as “away with the fairies”. On the other hand, she might agree….
Other Tennyson quotes suggest he may well have been a Norwich fan. I’m thinking for instance of: “Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?”
By the way, Martin: good and sensible thoughts on the club.
Ben K says
One thing the club seems to have done in the last ten days or so is create a bit of interest, curiosity and new hope for next season. With the season looking like it’s over with a good number of games to play, people are starting to speculate around how and whether the new set up will work; and who might fill the roles. I can’t see any reason to rush things, even if it looks as though the appointment of the SD merely has to be rubber-stamped. The sooner new faces are put in place, the sooner people can find fault and complain. As long as things are unknown, the interest and intrigue are floating about the place instead of the sad air of resignation over a season gone wrong.
Like the poetry!
Observation: Atmosphere at Carra Rd been awful all season, us fans have a lot to answer for and I felt like leaving when Jacob Murphy got abuse from ‘our fans'(so called), Chicken or egg comes to mind but we’ve been c**p as well as the team this season.
Future Coach, Manager, etc. Consider age …. Guardiola 46, Conte 47, Klopp 49,Pochettino 45, Clement 44, Bilic 48, Koeman 53, Puel 55, Mourinho 54, Shakespeare 53 the list goes on. Of course their are exceptions, Pulis, Howe, Dodgy Sam but the successful guys are 45 – 55.Gold Cup winners 7-9 years National Winners 9-11 years, (still a little ‘hoarse’ after Saturday).
My point is’ Horses for Courses’, how about Aitor Karanka he’s 43, knows all about the championship and is just about the right age for players to respect whilst being young enough to connect with them. A N was to young almost same age as Wes and I believe this became a problem for the older players in addition to his lack of connections in the game.
As for Sporting Director of Football, we need a ‘name’, known and respected in the game with connections not necessarily a former player but important this person is an inspired choice in order to create a ‘fresh start’and rejuvenate the feeling around the place.
It sometime feels like our Wembley play-off victory ‘exhausted’ the whole club, board, players, fans alike. Those few months were so perfect and with Ipswich being the dream team to beat in previous games, we knew it could never get any better the result is we have all been suffering serious anti-climax since 25 May 2015.
My poetic offering:
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
(Dreams Langston Huhes)
Let’s keep the dream alive. A fresh start will do us all a power of good, bring it on.
Tony Moore says
Surely a “root and branch” overhaul must include the Board who, in years gone by have served us well, but now they’re a rather outdated, motley crew. If we are to get to the Premier and keep there, we need money. Far more money than Delia has. The trouble is, as so “admirably” explained in her Times article, Delia won’t sell, she doesn’t agree with all this disgusting money flying around the Premier, and she’ll pass on her majority shareholding to Tom Smith, who we hope isn’t crackers. There will no doubt be conditions on him becoming a majority shareholder that will prevent him from doing anything that Delia doesn’t agree with. So that all means in essence that we’re condemned to a life in the Championship (at best), as the gulf between us and the Premier gets ever bigger (£100 million when relegated?). It also has to be said that the culture that appears to pervade around NCFC is a safe, risk-averse one. How is any business, or sporting enterprise ever going to grow and develop without making an investment in it’s future? This clearly will not happen at Carrow Road. For all those reasons I can’t help but feel the time is right to make the fundamental change of a change of ownership. The “new, exciting structure”, the Director of Sport, the Head Coach, are all but symptoms of the problem. The root cause of the current and future problems lie fairly and squarely with the Board. Will that happen? I very much doubt it. Very sad.
Cyprus Canary says
There needs to be a very clear understanding of what each person’s role is and a good relationship between the two individuals. The coach needs good interaction with the youth setup too or we will again see talent wasted. It all seems to have worked at Southampton so why not here.
martin penney says
#5 Colin M: Yes, the reaction from “the usual suspects” to Jacob shanking one was puerile and upset many of us – me and those around me very much included.
He responded in the very best way, of course.
It is ridiculous for “supporters” to vent against him, of all people. He’s in double figures for the season and for a first proper campaign he has been magnificent imo. Particularly under the circumstances of this season.
It’s nothing new though. I can remember Gossy getting loads of stick before he was established. And occasionally afterwards.
Boo and jeer after the match by all means, but while the game is in progress it only has a negative effect on all concerned and is out of order.
I should have made reference to the incident in the article, so thanks for doing it retrospectively on my behalf:-)
David Loades says
It’s true that the values we hold shape our culture. At the moment the values held by our majority shareholders as clearly stated in the recent Times article condemn NCFC to a culture of Championship mid table mediocrity. Without significant investment from new owners with deeper pockets than the Smiths this culture will continue for some time yet I fear.
Well said Martin.
How we’re still in with a shout of the top six after so many frankly pathetic performances this season just shows how poor the Championship must be this season.
If (and never has a small word been so massive) we are to catch up those above us then we will need rather better defending than we have seen all season long. If Barnsley had a striker on their books they would have been out of sight on Saturday; we would still be 8 points behind for us and surely even the faintest glimmer of hope would have been extinguished?
In which vein, why not Paul Heckingbottom for our SD? His team play with a vigour and energy which ours have been sadly lacking since Mr Lambert left, and I’m sure he would help in bringing more of our younger players through.
O T B C
Tony Moore #6 Your comment says exactly what I feel is needed to make NCFC ready for the PL and perhaps even STAYING there for more than one season, yet when I suggested similar on another board, other posters immediately jumped to Delia’s defence (they were all born pre 1950 I hasten to add!!).
I await with bated breath to see who might come in as SD and HC and my concern is that there is no one on the board with any real footballing knowledge, rather they are more concerned with ‘balancing the books!!’ and so won’t be buying any players who might cost a few £M.
What I’d like to see is all those whose contract expires this summer be released (NO more 1 year extensions!!!) and that we also sell Naismith, as yet again on Saturday when he had a reasonable chance to at least test the Barnsley keeper, he blazes it over the bar.
Someone once told me many years age”look at what a person has done in the past, and it will give a very good guide to what they will do it the future”
In my lifetime I have found this to be 95% true.
So expecting a vast change in our boards decision making will not change.
I recall Delia saying what a very nice man Hamilton was, well if that is the yardstick for recruiting a manager, sorry I mean team coach, then we are doomed.
martin penney says
Thanks to all for your excellent comments.
#4 Ben: Yes, after The Times piece, they have given us some hope. You are quite correct, the cloud has been blown adrift for a while, even if not permanently lifted.
I’ll requote Joe Strummer: the future is unwritten.
#6 Tony Moore: I concur with you, I really do. I just think the Board should be given a chance but it’s hard for me to argue with any of your points. You cannot remove the immovable, so, please, let’s see what happens.
#7 Cyprus: Quite right.
martin penney says
#9 David Loades: Yes, I too fear that might well be the case.
“Condemned” is a strong word, maybe if these new plans don’t work out there may be some changes at the very top? Personally I doubt it, but at least for once they appear to be trying. Let’s see.
#10 John: Wow, I agree with everybody today!
Barnsley’s best stuff came down their left channel and we got away with it. I wouldn’t mind Heckingbottom at all as head coach. He did seven tenths of beggar all here as a player but as you say he’s got a limited player pool up and fighting.
He could be just what we need with the right DoF in place, but I don’t do forecasts:-)