May 22 2013 Latest news:
Monday, June 4, 2012
John Ruddy’s wedding came just a week and a bit after he was forced to pull out of the England squad because of a broken finger. It was his first international call-up so that plus his wedding day must have left his head spinning a little.
Perhaps the last thing he needed was to hear that he would start the new season working for a new manager – one assumes.
Ditto Adam Drury, who has had some well-earned holiday time since his testimonial game, during which he has no doubt been able to consider what is on offer for next season. Drury’s next move could well be affected by Paul Lambert’s decision to leave Carrow Road. If Lambert wanted him to stay, will his successor have the same feelings?
Zak Whitbread wasn’t offered a new deal. Would the new man have kept him?
And Grant Holt – where does he stand? He put in a transfer request that was immediately turned down, and has since reiterated his desire to leave. The fans are itching to know if he will stay, and Lambert’s departure will only crank up the speculation about the City skipper’s future. Will he follow Lambert to Villa? If he does, it would launch the mother of all conspiracy theories. If he stays, then the rumour mill will be full of the questions asking why he wanted to leave in the first place.
Every member of the current Norwich City squad can ask themselves some questions that they perhaps wouldn’t have considered had Lambert stayed. The playing career of a footballer is a short one, but it is also punctuated by doubts, caused not always by themselves, but by others. Lambert’s departure means uncertainty for some. The young lads who have been away on loan, for example, or those who didn’t feature regularly in matchday squads.
Then there is the management team. Lambert may have gone, but who will follow? When Bryan Gunn went in August 2009, his assistant, Ian Butterworth, went soon after, as Lambert brought in his own team. Ian Crook stayed for a while before returning to Australia, but, generally, there is major upheaval involved.
And how far down the line does it go? The assumption is that Lambert’s assistant, Ian Culverhouse, and his director of football operations, Gary Karsa, will follow. But what about the kit man, the chief scout, the head physio, the doctor etc etc? There’s a whole bunch of backroom staff appointed by Lambert who may or may not follow. And when a replacement comes in, will he want any of those left behind?
This is the fall-out from one man’s decision to move on. It is his prerogative, but once you start thinking about him, it affects a lot of people, not just here, but at the club where he next parks his car.
I have to say, I always thought this would end in tears, if only because almost every time a football manager leaves his job it is either because he has been either very good or very bad at it.
If he’s good, his fans don’t want him to go; if he’s bad, the fans will push him all the way.
Lambert looks likely to replace a man who suffered the latter fate – Alex McLeish was hounded out; we all saw how the Villa fans reacted to him at Carrow Road on the final day of the season. It wasn’t pleasant.
McLeish may not be the hardest act to follow, given that the Villa fan- base almost to a man appear to have hated him because of his Birmingham connections. But the reaction of those very fans show they will be a tough bunch to please if things aren’t going well.
It is a challenge Lambert had to accept. Even though it leaves more questions than answers.
• COUNTING THE COST OF A SUCCESSFUL SEASON
Brendan Rodgers eh? Who’d have thought it?
I remember falling into a daft trap a couple of years ago when he was appointed manager of Swansea, having had something of a rough ride at Reading. I considered Swansea not to be major rivals to Norwich during that Championship season, justifying my view with some throwaway remark that was rendered useless when Rodgers got his team to the play-off final, where they beat, er, Reading, to join the Canaries in the top flight.
For most of the past season, Rodgers and Swansea were lauded as the beautiful young things of the top flight – the team credited with playing flowing, passing football which earned them the nickname Swanselona, after the great Barca side.
Rodgers was the manager who appeared approachable, polite and media friendly.
Together it got up the noses of a few Norwich fans, who perhaps considered that not enough credit was coming their team’s way.
After all, there was little between the teams all season and by the end of it, only goal difference separated them.
Yet Swansea and Rodgers were always considered to be Match of the Day’s favourites.
You couldn’t open Twitter or Facebook on a Saturday evening without reading ‘Why are Norwich always last on?”
It got to the point where Gary Lineker was even commenting about the Norwich fans’ ‘disappointment’.
It lasted almost all season, but with the final tables tucked away in the history books, things began to change – and it’s here where Norwich fans will remember to be careful what they wish for.
Rodgers’ exploits didn’t go unnoticed, which is why he is the new manager of Liverpool.
The fact that it was the most ridiculous managerial hunt since, er, the beginning of the year, when Wolves appointed Terry Connor, is immaterial.
Swansea fans will be wondering if that fine first season has proved oh so costly. Continuity, they say, is key, but at The Liberty Stadium it has come to an abrupt end. They need to start again, in the most difficult league of them all.
Swansea are paying the price of success and £5m in compensation will be of no use if they are relegated next season.
Ditto Norwich City.
• SHOT IN THE DARK
Got to love the North Koreans’ top brass. Not only do they have their people bowing and scraping to their every whim, it appears the new chap in charge, Kim Jong-un (or should that be Kim Wrong-un?) is a crackshot. So good that he has been offering advice to the country’s shooting team. This is the country that excused its 2011 women’s World Cup performance by saying its players had been struck by lightning in training and were suffering the after-effects. The country whose government told the populace that Kim’s old chap, Kim Jong Il, shot five holes-in-one on his way to a round of 38 in his first attempt at golf. The country that turns its TV screens off when its sporting sides lose.
• IT’S A MAD WORLD
Can’t wait for the Olympics if the winner of the best PR blurb of the week is anything to go by. According to Karin, of MAD-Promotions (you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps), she hopes I “find our news as exciting as we do”. I waited with bated breath. I scrolled down in fevered anticipation. Was Usain Bolt up for the interview I wanted? Was Jessica Ennis going to give me those hard-to-find diet tips? No. Karin was eager to inform me that Fry’s Vegetarian Mince “the tasty meat alternative” has been selected to supply the Olympics. Lisa Drummy, Director of Fry Distribution UK said: “We are delighted that our meat free mince will be enjoyed by so many people. It’s the highlight of our 10 years in business.” I’m pleased for them. Really pleased. Disappointed for Usain and Jessica, but pleased for the MAD people.
• JUST A THOUGHT
The Carling Cup is no more; it has a new sponsor. It is now to be known as the Capital One Cup. It trips easily off the tongue and is a familiar name in that their junk mail litters my doorstep at least once a week. The FA Cup, I suppose is really the Football Association Cup. The JPT is the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. So does that mean the Capital One Cup may become the Cocup? Just asking...