Wherever I’ve worked, I always gained the reputation of being a bit of a “chancer”.
The Police, industry, journalism, whatever. “Oh Penney, yes, he flies by the seat of his pants most of the time”.
I enjoyed annual reviews or whatever you call them nowadays for just that reason. Bosses often didn’t know what to make of me. Sometimes they knew and trusted me; other times they were slightly unsure.
Serpico or Inspector Regan of The Sweeney I wasn’t, but I will say this:
I could have taken yet another chance and written this article on Friday evening. Why wait until Sunday morning to state the bleedin’ obvious?
Yet again the Canaries put up a half-hearted performance away from home and lose 2-0.
I am sorry Alan Irvine, but we got what we deserved, whatever you may claim to the contrary. We did not do enough to get anything from that match. I didn’t go, but two good friends did and I trust their analysis implicitly. Without resorting to fruity language, by all accounts we were pretty poor and it could have been far worse.
Lingering play-off hopes are shot to bits (forget your maths, it ain’t gonna happen) and we’ll end up ninth or tenth. Or worse.
The ‘push’ for the play-offs was always a non-starter. We can’t buy a result away from Carrow Road; teams who face us on their own turf know that and act accordingly.
This has to change.
Jungle drums say Mr Webber will be in situ by the weekend. But I’ll tell you something – I wouldn’t want his job.
We are now at the stage where almost the whole playing staff have to be seriously examined and, in most cases, turned around.
The ‘misunderstanding’ between Ryan Bennett and Michael McGovern for Villa’s second goal sums it up perfectly. No belief, no confidence, no mutual trust and precious little ability. From either.
So, if you’ve no credible goalkeeper, a defence built like a Mary Berry blancmange and insist on playing one up front, where on earth do you go from there?
Ah, Huddersfield. On Wednesday.
No Ivo Pinto, no Mitchell Dijks. Seems to me like a toss-up between Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker for either full-back role with Sebastien Bassong and the aforementioned Bennett in the middle. I reckon the Terriers could put under-18 strikers out against that shambles with no worries at all.
I think they’re the best side I’ve seen this season, so I’m tempted to ask Gary to copy this article to be republished on Thursday morning.
We could right now be the only professional club in England with no Sporting Director, no Head Coach, no decent goalkeeper and no defence.
Maybe that might all be resolved in a relatively short period of time and I sincerely hope so, because it feels a little as if people from both inside and outside Norfolk are starting to laugh at Norwich City.
And although I might have been a bit of a maverick, I never, ever put any employer of mine in that position.
Pretty forlorn outlook there Martin. A bit OTT too. A bit of a ‘maverick’ attitude TBH. Murphy was atrocious but Pritchard was a bright spark. The game could actually have been any score … to any one of the teams. You really should go to Huddersfield. You might be in for a surprise. I reckon we’ve got a result in us. Copy this article and print it Thursday morning.
Gary Field says
Martin – one observation on Mr Webber; surely this is a great time for him to join, given how low the performance bar is? A few easy wins for squad rebuilding (given how many players are out of contract) set against a massive underperforming squad, must be a better situation for him, rather than a successful, winning environment where making a difference would be much more difficult?
Nice piece Martin and hard to argue against your points.
The sacking of Alex Neil clearly had no basis In football strategy. Having endured an abject run of results for three months without any thoughts of dismissing the floundering Scot, why then did the board of directors suddenly and without warning dispense with him? Simply to assuage the growing realisation and chorus of dissent aimed in their direction and the opinion that they in fact, are not fit for purpose.
They then instructed his successor, Alan the Unwilling not to change a thing! Giving a new spin on the old idiom “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”
It seems an age since we were told by the chairman that the new sporting director was imminently to be appointed. At the rate this process is going we could be forgiven for thinking it would be quicker to conceive, bear and rear one of our own from the available gene pool of suitably qualified individuals.
The performance and result on Saturday were the most predictable outcome of the sporting weekend. Norwich city has become the byword for gutless, spineless, half hearted capitulation, calamitous errors, going through the motions, sometimes not even that! Under this ownership and board that has become the “Norwich way”. Anybody who expects not to lose three quarters of the clubs away fixtures the season after a calamitous relegation is in fact “entitled” what rot.
To save the Norwich city from the gathering storm, Stewart Webber, or whoever the lucky man is will need to make a similar impact to that of David McNally. McNally if you recall picked up the pieces after the current ownership had treated us to third division football and the most heinous opening day defeat in the clubs history. So perhaps we can be forgiven for some scepticism.
One doesn’t need a radar to detect the incredulity amongst the wider footballing fraternity about the goings on at carrow road, perpetuating this stupid country bumpkin image they so love to saddle us all with. 91 clubs do things one way, one club, us, chooses to do it the other way. On all matters, be it investment, changing management personnel, we have to be the odd one out. For Gods sake, can’t somebody with a pair just take the club over and help it fulfil its potential?
You are right Martin, one just has to laugh. Or else be reduced to tears.
Jim Davies says
The fight and the “togetherness” went out of City with the sale of Bradley Johnson. He may not have been the greatest footballer, or even the sharpest knife in the box, but his commitment and drive were infectious, and we don’t have anyone in the side with that sort of influence any more. Grant Holt used to have a similar effect. One of the first tasks for the new Sporting Director and Head Coach must be to find someone with that type of character.
Spot on Martin but you left out the real problem which is the owners.
They lack the financial resources to rebuild the team to remain competitive in the championship let alone ever regaining premiership status.
New owners desperately required before we are back in division 1!
Don Harold says
Peach500, it couldn’t have been ‘any score’. Our defence was too flaky (as usual) and our attack too lacking in threat for it to be anything but a deserved win for Villa. We had a lot of possession but much of this was Martin and Bennett passing the ball to each other across the penalty area while the Villa players just let them because they were winning 1-0. As soon as a Villa player came near they passed to McGovern (Ruddy is far less bad than him) to boot upfield.
We had plenty of corners without coming near to scoring from them. Pritchard was lively but had no support so his efforts were futile.
My worry is that the whole set up reminds me of the way things were at the end of the season before we got relegated to League 1. There is absolutely nothing impressive or intimidating about our team. Huddersfield will probably score 4 (the average we concede in away games against top 6 teams this season) and Irvine will probably say that we deserved more from the game than we got….either that or Russell Martin will come out and say how unacceptable the performance was.
This league is, as we fans know but the players and coaching staff seem to have been caught by surprised by, unrelenting and unforgiving. As Joe Strummer said ‘you’ve got to have a purpose or this place is going to knock you out sooner or later’
martin penney says
Thanks for very much for the excellent comments – each and every one of them.
#1 Peach 500 and #6 Don: OTT? Maybe. Perhaps forlorn is the right word – our forlorn hope of the play-offs went the same way of many of the historical forlorn hopes. Battered to bits. The guys in history joined the forlorn hope for promotion, bounty to clear gambling debts, for officers to restore tarnished reputations… the list could go on.
Do our players put their lives on the line?
I’m very much with Don on this one.
Don Harold, the average goals conceded against the top 6 away (we haven’t played Huddersfield yet) is actually 3.2
Why do some people just post inaccurate facts to try and justify there own opinions.
I kind of agree with Peach500, maybe not ‘any score’ but certainly could have been a 3-3 or anything below that.
Martin had 2 clear headers too from Pritchard’s corners. Don, you might want to either attend games or watch substantial highlights
martin penney says
#2 Gary F: Spot on, and despite the tone of my piece I agree with you. I wasn’t in the corner of those wishing for hasty appointments and I’m still not.
Surely there will be a positive announcement soon after the Huddersfield match.
And when I said I wouldn’t want the job, I really meant I wouldn’t want to take on the immediate workload the new appointee will be faced with. Pure laziness on my part:-)
#3 Chris: as almost always, I find it hard to disagree. It’s the C-word I find the most reprehensible: capitulation. Far too much of it in evidence away from home this season.
I wish I could actually laugh, but I’m still prepared to sit back and wait to see how it all turns out. We owe it to NCFC to judge the restructure at, say, Christmas next season, not at the fag-end of this disastrous one.
#4 Jim: Oh yes indeedy. Character as in Bradders and Holty is much needed for the way forward. But where’s it going to come from? Yet again, I have to say give the new structure a chance.
#5 John: I totally agree with you and you make an extremely valid point. I just feel I’ve written my views on the ownership into the ground so rarely bother “at this moment in time”.
As I keep repeating, they appear to be trying to act at last so I’m firmly on the fence until I see how it all pans out.
Deep down, I feel you are quite right, but I find it hard to criticise something I haven’t seen.
Serena, perhaps Don was quoting the top six going in to the weekend. Before Sheffield Wednesday (5) were usurped in the top six places by Fulham (2).
Serena #8; I didn’t go on Saturday, in fact, I’ve not been to an away fixture for 4 or 5 months. However, according to the stats we had 70% possession, and watching the highlights cannot recall the Villa keeper having to make a meaningful save. We’re great at passing between our back 4 and back to the keeper (surely Ruddy has to be back for Wednesday?), but whilst we have those who can pick and make a pass (Howson; Pritchard; Dorrans) we seem to continually lack any sort of purposeful movement up front for such incisive passes to be made. Due to the continuing failure of our inflexible formation of one up front our opponents are now too clever and know that by nullifying that threat, regardless of how little possession they have, only one goal gifted by our colander like defence will in all probability be more than enough to win the match.
To think that after all the talk of the strongest squad and an instant return to the promised land, all we have to look forward to is the prospect of a complete overhaul by our new top two during the close season.
O T B C
martin penney says
#6 Don; #8 Serena; #10 Chris: Whether it’s 4 or 3.2 (I don’t do stats, I’d believe anybody) it’s still pretty abysmal.
For the PL, not just the Championship.
That figure goes a long way to illustrating why we are in the position we are in.
Of all the ‘top’ matches I only went to Brighton and, believe me, it wasn’t worth the petrol.
I so admire our away regulars. Such a pitiful experience for them this season, unfortunately.
Alex B says
Once it is confirmed that Webber is the new DoF lets hope he can say he has spoken to the person he would like to recruit as Head Coach.
I know that it is against FA regs but we all know it happens and lets also hope he has done due diligence on the playing squad at his disposal.
As I have mentioned on numerous occasions we have good players that are getting to the end of contracts these need to be sorted.
There is a loan of negatively about certain players like Bennett but I think he is a decent defender given the right player along side but if the team has a bad game he is the first to be dropped, Martin on the other hand no matter how bad he is seems to get away with all his mistakes and never dropped.
Stewart Lewis says
Alex B #13: I tend to agree about Ryan Bennett.
To correct (yet) another misleading statement, though: all of our central defenders have been dropped this season. Hence the alarming stat that no-one (in any position) made as many as 30 starts in our first 37 league games.
Don Harold says
Serena (8), 3.2 is more than 3, so the next number is 4 (and Chris is right, I was including Sheff Wed, not Fulham). I am happy to be corrected however, but can’t be as happy as you with the prospect of us conceding 3.
I only get to about 25% of games as I live in the Midlands and I don’t post about games I wasn’t at. I was at Villa Park on Saturday and I’m sure you will agree that after the first goal went in, the over-riding feeling in our support(correctly as it turns out) was that we wouldn’t threaten.
Anyway, I don’t want to fall out with fellow Norwich fans,it’s lonely enough here working with Villa, Blues, Wolves and Baggies fans. Please join me in trying to look forward to better things next season.
martin penney says
# 13 Alex B: the Stuart Webber confirmation is “kind of” out there – two days before I and doubtless loads of others expected it.
That’s why I’ve always said wait and see.
He’s got the toughest of tough jobs – as ever, let’s see what happens.
martin penney says
#15 Don: you’re never alone with MFW – I’ll probably get told off for posting that (not)!
I truly hate writing about games I haven’t personally witnessed – it’s why I rely on two mates so much as while I never miss at home, I rarely go away these days.
I guess it’s the combination of cost, opportunity and that sinking feeling you get before you’ve said a temporary goodbye to “My Family And Other Animals”, let alone walked along the drive to the car…
With apologies to Gerald Durrel.
Alex B says
#16 Martin, Yes it is good to see that the club have announced they have reached agreement with Huddersfield and to say he will start immently so I would presume that is Thursday at the earliest.
All we need now is the Head Coach for me someone not mentioned in any list of potential appointments would be Mike Phelan, Alexander at Scunny, or possibly the Fulham manager all have solid experience.
Stewart Lewis says
Martin #17: If you didn’t before, you now owe an apology to Gerald Durrell (two ‘l’s)
martin penney says
#20 Stewart: It’s probably because our dogs are a Jack Russel and a Patterdalle Terrier.
Paul Harley says
The worst thing about talking about our defence is that we knew they were poor before we were promoted and that we desperately needed new defenders before we kicked a ball in the Premier League. And yet…..they’re all still there (apart from Olson) with only two additions. As for Bradley Johnson – character, yes, but he wouldn’t have started many games in the Premier League.
martin penney says
#21 Paul: re the defence you’re on the button.
Your point about Bradders is valid too, but I would have kept him here just, purely, for that “unskilled” grafting quality.
Personal issues then crept in, as we understand it, and a manager who thought he knew best binned Bradley and kept, say, Lewis Grabban and Gary Hooper when that might not have been the right decision.
And that’s why, as much as some people decry Russell Martin, I feel he has a lot more yet to offer us. Maybe not on the pitch, but just like me and most of us it would take a nuclear device to get him out of Norfolk:-)