Atlas was a well-known character from Greek mythology whose function was to carry (literally in the eyes of the ancients) the weight of the world on his shoulders by physically separating the Earth from the firmament above.
He and Hercules – no introduction needed – did not always get along particularly well. One of the Twelve Labours of Hercules was to muck out the Augean stables in a single day – a feat never attempted in thirty years by the locals as the 3,000 cattle that occupied the stables were sacred, long-established and produced one heck of a lot of, erm, dung.
Can you see the analogy yet?
I hope Stuart Webber is distantly related to either or, preferably, both of them. I feel it would help if there is a bit of the Atlean or Herculean in his gene pool considering the tasks awaiting him.
For not only does the weight of assuaging the thirst of the NCFC-supporting world rest squarely on his shoulders; he also has a lot of dung to shovel out. And ‘right quick’, as we say in these parts.
Friday’s Fulham encounter was of course the flipside of the Reading triumph.
The only bright spots of the match for me were a few laughs from the Barclay. No more than when Chris Martin was red-carded for a naughty little elbow on Mitchell Dijks and the chants of “He’s one of our own” and “One Chrissy Martin” went up.
It brought a smile to the face, and introduced the prospect of 45 minutes against 10 men, aka hope.
Of course, it took Ryan Bennett less than three minutes to extinguish the hope…
Quite what he was doing putting his hands on Tomas Kalas when the ball was going nowhere but out I have no idea. He was caught wrong-side admittedly, but referees give those as often as they don’t and if I know that then a professional footballer should too.
From thereon in we huffed and puffed like a team of geriatric sloths on a relaxing holiday in the South American jungle resort of their choice.
An excellent (it grates, but the truth sometimes does) Fulham side continued to hold the same high line and we could not get behind them. Well-organised, totally committed and head and shoulders above us in every department, even without the imbiber from Beccles on the pitch for the entire second half.
I could moan about Wes’s corners struggling to reach the edge of the six-yard box. Equally I could vent my spleen about Russell Martin playing Floyd Ayite onside for Fulham’s gut-wrenching third by standing stock-still as if Kenny the hypnotist from Little Britain had told him: “Look into my eyes. Not around my eyes“, etc.
I was not as impressed with the referee as Gary says he was in his Saturday article. If a team starts time-wasting after just six minutes – and Fulham did – why not crack down on them early doors? It took Mr Madley until the 67th minute to book Marcus Bettinelli, and the goalkeeper was by no means the only culprit.
And some strange decisions were certainly made, although he got both the red card and the penalty right for sure.
It must be said that Fulham employed every trick in the book to knock us out of our stride, but apart from a four-corner burst after Cameron Jerome’s goal, we didn’t really hit a stride of any particular note. But that counts for nothing in the grand scheme of things.
This season is deader than a dead thing in a dead place, as Edmund Blackadder might have said. And in truth it has been for a long, long time.
Therefore, it’s all eyes to the future. Let’s hope our Atlean-Herculean Titan enjoys a better working relationship with Michael and Delia than the originals did with Zeus and Hera.
The jungle drums say he has carte blanche to do things his way, so let’s hope that’s the way it is. I have no reason to believe otherwise and he’s got off to a great start with his trio of “removals”.
Let’s also hope the Colney stables are rather less occupied by dung-producing beasts in August.
We hear an awful lot about how the FA Cup has been devalued by clubs fielding weakened teams and sometimes making less than the expected amount of effort from Round Three to the quarter-finals.
Despite the furore, this year’s semi-finalists just happen to be Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs.
And what to make of that, I’m not quite sure.
The best result we could have witnessed for long term progress. We don’t want webber under any illusions that a 7-1 is their standard. The Fulham result made me smile at just how exciting close season will be now. We will never have to regularly watch Ruddy, Martin etc etc wear yellow again. Joyous, Joyous scenes…now get kilip, Crowe and the other serious prospects in before they fade.
The answer to the “season in a word” competition will I guess be enlightening.Last season’s was “disappointing”.”Depressing” comes to mind but the winner for me is “Spineless” as it may contain some footballing clues.I don’t hear it much these days but the team’s “Spine” was the foundation block that held the rest of the team up.A strong team is built on a strong spine.
#1 Jeff I don’t know if you’ve had the privilege of watching our under 23s progress in the International PL Cup/PL Cup, but the only game I missed was the one V Valencia and I’ve been mightily impressed with their desire and ability to play as a team – something our ageing senior squad seem able to do on the rare occasions when the opposition has an ‘off day’.
You are SO spot on, when you say that you do NOT want to witness Ruddy, Martin etc regularly wear yellow and green again.
Yes, let’s hope SW will get the title of ‘hatchet man’ or whatever and I’m sure he was well aware of the enormity of the task before taking up the post. My only hope is that we can hold onto the likes of Pinto, Dijks (fingers crossed), Howson, Pritchard, the Murphy twins, Maddison and Oliveira, as they would be the nucleus of a reasonable team for the future. Let’s also hope that we don’t have to sell any of those to be able to afford replacements and perhaps our new scouting network should be looking at emerging stars from the lower leagues rather than ‘over the hill’ players such as Naismith.
Great analogy, Martin;) certainly n awful lot of shovelling needs to take place this summer.
I must confess that like Jeff, I too am looking forward to the summer intrigues with far more gusto than I await tomorrow’s defeat at Preston or Friday’s humbling versus Brighton. I could possibly count in single figures the number of players I wouldn’t happily see depart.
As Ed says, the under 23 side is one of the only positives around Norwich City these days. Free to watch, they seldom fail to turn up and a few of them should certainly be in the frame to step into the shoes of the twelve contract less players in June. A couple of marquee sales must supply the funds to rebuild the first team with more committed players to supplement the ones we are able to keep. The money must be made available, let Delia Smith and her board be in no doubt that a repeat of this seasons fiasco will put her position under fresh scrutiny.
martin penney says
Thanks for the comments and I find the ones about our under-23s very relevant.
The marquee sales must indeed happen – mine would be Naismith and, I’m afraid, Klose. How much we’d get for them is of course another matter.
I dearly hope we can hold on to Alex Pritchard. Unfortunately, he seems to be our most saleable asset.
martin penney says
#1 Jeff: Spot on, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen John Ruddy wearing yellow. Just being pedantic.
#2 Volcanopete: My defining word would be “indifference”.
#3 Ed: I think you’ve picked a good core for retention. Mitchell Dijks is an outside possibility if we stump up the Guilders and make him captain. It could happen. Unlikely, but it could.
#4 Chris: Yes, Greek mythology saved this writer from having to be rude.
Let’s see what happens when Mr Webber turns his attentions to the playing staff. I doubt he will be gentle in the cull…
Gary Field says
You don’t become a top level coach and then start judging players’ futures on the basis of just one or two results.
Webber mentioned in one of his interviews that it’s his business to know about players at other clubs. He’ll therefore be fully “up to speed” with the vast majority of our first team squad.
Credit where it’s due; Fulham were compact between their back four and midfield, stifling out our creative “top 4” – hence we offered very little in the final third.
martin penney says
#7 Gary: credit where it’s due indeed.
Fulham did their job very effectively.
Stewart Lewis says
Gary #7 is right.
One of the directors told me Stuart Webber’s knowledge of players is “encyclopaedic”.
martin penney says
#9 Stewart: the more I hear about him, the more I like!