It’s not unusual for a collective groan to greet the fourth official’s board that signals the minimum amount of added time. If you’re winning there are usually too many minutes. If you’re losing there are never enough.
But yesterday, in the hell hole that was Carrow Road, the groan was because, despite City being 3-0 down, six minutes was far too many.
Those of us still left in the ground just wanted the purgatory to end; to be put out of our interminable misery.
How sad is that?
For many, the pain of watching the team they love endure such an awful afternoon was too much and they departed before the fourth official’s board was raised. Some even left at halftime. Others could see what was about to unfold and opted out of making the trip at all.
But those who inflicted that Sunday lunchtime public flogging on David Wagner should hang their heads in shame.
It was cruel. Heartless.
It was very clear from his post-match interview at the Stadium of Light that his race was run. He looked and sounded like a broken man who had no idea how to arrest this current malaise. But he’s also a decent man and should have been treated as such.
No way should he have been subjected to a Carrow Road that has simply had enough. But the four people with the ability to spare him from yesterday’s horror chose to sit on their hands and expose him to the lion’s den.
Whether that was through their own ineptitude, or if it was because they saw him as a human shield who would offer them a layer of protection from the inevitable venom I know not, but either way it was rotten.
And then for Stuart Webber to even not be present as the tragedy unfolded was another couldn’t-make-it-up fact to add to a growing number.
Where’s the decisiveness? The accountability? The bravery?
It looks and feels like a club that’s rotten to the core. Problems at every turn. And the fact they were quite happy to watch Wagner crumble in such a brutal way adds another layer to their current failings.
I don’t intend to dissect too much what went wrong on the pitch yesterday because it was obvious to all. Players who are bereft of any confidence, playing in a structure that is evidently unfit for purpose, and who appeared either unable or unwilling (or both) to produce a performance that could save their head coach.
Even against ten men, they didn’t have it in them to find a spark that could have brought them and the crowd to life. At 3-0 down there appeared no urgency and no desire, and they, like the board, appeared paralyzed by the fear of making progressive decisions.
It was a painful watch from minute seven to 96.
It is worth noting the contributions of Jaden Warner and Kellen Fisher, both of whom may just be the future, but there was precious little to be enthused about and it’s tough to watch Gabriel Sara and Jon Rowe get dragged down into the mediocrity that surrounds them.
For all of the obvious failings of the head coach, you expect professional pride to play a part in this group but there appears to be none. Experienced internationals, of which there are a few, who regularly play like Sunday morning footballers after a heavy Saturday night.
But the paucity on the pitch now feels little more than a by-product of the chaos off it.
So many issues. All of them badly managed. Sometimes it’s erratic, illogical decision-making, sometimes inaction, and sometimes appointing the wrong person.
The length of time it took to appoint Ben Knapper when Stuart Webber announced his intention to leave in March was far too lengthy, but even when he finally arrives (November 27), the latest is that Webber now intends to work out his full notice period – to March 2024!
He couldn’t be arsed to be there yesterday to take some of the heat off his mate but it seems he’s quite happy to hang around collecting his full salary for another five months.
Let’s hope that particular rumour, which circulated yesterday, proves to be wrong.
Quite where the club goes from here I don’t know. The perpetual holding pattern in which we find ourselves is now extended by another three weeks until Knapper starts so, presumably, he can be the one to pull the trigger on Wagner.
But there are two games to be played before then – another six points to be waved away as we slide unceremoniously but inevitably into the relegation zone. Because I’m afraid to say that those who don’t recognise this as a relegation battle are deluded.
This smacks of Glenn Roeder’s Class of 2008-09 and that sense of sleepwalking to relegation, while the board tells itself that we, as a club, are too good to go down.
Well, I’m afraid the back-slapping from up on high over us being a well-run club is now nothing more than a joke. We’re not well run.
Well-run clubs don’t purport to be self-funding and then end up with debts of £77million.
Well-run clubs are not done so at the behest of two married couples, with a potential US-based saviour being made to serve an apprenticeship before being permitted a meaningful say.
And well-run clubs don’t hang beleaguered head coaches out to dry.
The level of chaos at every turn is staggering, but still those in power sit tight and say nothing
And you wait… when they do, it will end up being the fault of the supporters.
Monday is our Martin’s music day. So…