How Norwich City’s relegation changed it all for Bryan Gunn

A star-studded panel including Bryan Gunn launched Tales From The City at Open. Pictures: Simon Gill

A star-studded panel including Bryan Gunn launched Tales From The City at Open. Pictures: Simon Gill - Credit: Archant

In an extract from Tales From The City, Bryan Gunn writes about taking the big job at Carrow Road in 2009 – but wishing he'd got the chance to give it up.

Even going to Charlton on the last day, I thought we could survive… We lost 4-2 and were relegated to the third tier. I was shell-shocked; the emptiest I have ever felt in a sporting or professional context.

The directors went on the field to face the fans and to thank them for their support and I had tears in my eyes when I saw Delia and Michael doing that.

I told them how sorry I was. It was hard. So were the press interviews afterwards. It was a horrible coach journey back. I was numb.

The next day I learned there were to be meetings at the club all day as Delia and Michael came to grips with what had happened and decided what to do. What they didn't know – what nobody but Susan knew – was that relegation changed my mind about my own position.

If we had stayed up, I would have stepped aside and sought a role as director of football. I would have told the board the club needed a restructure and they should decide whether Ian Butterworth, Ian Crook or someone else entirely should be manager.

Ultimately, management is a job that requires total commitment. You can't have any time off and when you are not actually doing anything, you are thinking about doing something for the club or the team.

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From about six games from the end of that first season I thought that once we had stayed up I would try for a job at the club that would allow me to give my family a bit more of my time.

As it was though, we had been relegated and there could be no question of me quitting if the club wanted me to try to right that wrong. Relegation was a failure and I felt I couldn't quit then. I felt I had to do everything I could to put things right, if I was given the chance. And I was.

My sadness is that there must be a generation of fans who only know me as the manager who lost 7-1 against Colchester… My own memories are different.

• Tales From The City is available now for £10 from and various book stores