As Norwich appear to hurtle headlong into oblivion, surely now it is time for a change? The crowd certainly thought so. Jon Rogers and Clare Thomas debate a rather unpleasant experience at Carra Rud on Friday. And they aren’t talking about the new coffee.
Jon: So, another loss. Might as well call them Huffersfield. In front the Sky cameras too. And the vitriol around me was very bleak. One man next to me was urging Huddersfield to score. And he's so mild mannered normally.
Alex Neil can't come back from it can he? What was it like where you were?
Clare: A total dichotomy of the vitriolic and those screaming at the vitriolic to shut up and support the team. It was all very unpleasant. And the anger coming from the adjacent Snake Pit was palpable. It was like looking at a baying mob. Horrible.
Jon: Someone's bought a thesaurus for Xmas…
Clare: Rude. Though I did just double check dichotomy was the right word.
Jon: The one thing that made it feel different was the usually calm faces standing and spitting vile language. You don't come back from that. Or do you?
Clare: No. I honestly don't think he can now. Which saddens me. But if that is to be the reaction every time things don’t go our way then it's going to be a very unpleasant place to be. The reaction at the substitution was awful. There was so much anger. At a ‘like for like’ substitution. I understand people were unhappy at Oliveira being taken off, and yes, it would have been good to see them both on when trying to turn defeat around, but I can also see why AN was loath to take off another midfielder against an excellent Huddersfield. Did the substitution really warrant that reaction? It seems to me that a lot of the crowd have been waiting for the chance to do this for a while, but the team had the gall to win the last two home games and not concede a goal.
Jon: The eighty nine million defeats in a month can do that to a person. Although, I felt the chant of ‘Delia Sort it Out’ was a passive aggressive way of not saying ‘We Want Neil Out’. That's good isn't it? ISN'T IT!!
Clare: I think everyone understood the message. Apart from dear old Ettie. Of course fans are unhappy. I just think that the way the crowd turned in that second half, when they had actually been very supportive in the first, was not conducive to anything other than defeat. Huddersfield were excellent, the best we’ve seen at Carrow Road this season by some distance. But we actually had plenty of chances to score and *could* have got something from the game. I've seen us play far, far worse against much poorer opposition. This, unfortunately, was all about timing. Things have been building, but the previous two home games didn't give the Alex Neil Out campers a chance to be heard. Go 2-1 down, do some sloppy passing at the back and take off Oliveira, and Bob's your uncle. Or rather, Delia's your aunt.
Jon: The passing, or the technical term ‘knobbing about with it’, at the back was key for me. Both Bennett and Bassong just didn't want to pass it forward just in case they were the one who twonked it out and people turned into Rottweilers. So they were like the bloody Chuckle Brothers; ‘To you, to me’ - and that momentum in the second half was lost because of it. And that was down to Wagner, he saw that and pushed two forwards right into out centre backs faces. Man, I'd like him at our club.
Clare: Don't get me started on the 2Bs. Sitting in the middle of the Upper Barclay I have a birds eye view of their 'work'. It's consistently terrifying. They do not instill one ounce of confidence in me, and once they start pratting about at the back the panic gushes through the team. And the fans. And then the fans get angry (and this one I do agree with) because the errors they make are so basic and so repetitive. They appear to lack any awareness of danger. People saying how well they played against Brentford and Villa was a moot point. They were poor teams who offered little up front. It’s like saying I'm a good driver. Which I am. On an empty motorway.
As for Wagner. Absolutely. Huddersfield played the type of fast, dynamic, attacking football that we aspire to. I think that almost made the evening harder to bear. What we want our team to be was staring us straight in the face. I think we are capable of it. It just seems a million miles away from where we are.
It’s all just a very sad, frustrating situation.
Jon: The time is right now. We're not even one win outside the playoffs. The group are starting to drift away. Boxing Day is still a long while away - plenty of time to get a new face in and have a good look at the squad. We need a spark, and a new manager does seem to ignite one the majority of times.
If you want cheap and quick, Rowett is the clear choice. If you want expensive and complicated, Wagner is the option. There isn't any excuse now, and the longer we hold back the worse the crowd’s reaction and unease will be at Carrow Road.
Clare: Can you see Delia sacking Alex Neil at Christmas? I can't.
Maybe that's a female thing. That's why I am uneasy with the crowd baying for him. He's a human being with a young family who people are trying to get sacked. Though in saying that I wanted Hughton out and was quite vocal about that. Maybe I’m just finding it harder this time because Alex Neil gave us Wembley, my most wonderful memory as a Norwich fan.
I know football is cut throat, with little room for sentiment. His time may well be up. I just can't see it happening this week. Boxing day is 8-9 days away. No way will we sack AN and employ a new guy before then. Theoretically now is the right time. But we all know things stop for Christmas. However if it does happen this week, I reckon Delia would get some respect back from those calling for her head.
Maybe I am wrong. I just can’t see it. After Christmas, though. Go. Go get Rowett. I hope we would try and get Wagner, but I feel without McNally at the helm we aren't that dastardly anymore…
Jon: It's not a female thing, Clare, you massive sexist. Boys have feelings too. It's horrible to watch. Hughton, Adams, now Neil. People seem to have a very strange and offensive condition that, if Alex Neil's well thought out and self justified opinions and actions don't come off, he's a useless effing c.
I believe that in football management, when someone’s judgment is clouded, experience kicks in. AN doesn't have that experience - so nothing is kicking in. Like Robbie Brady for example. He isn't kicking in, out, left or right
And football doesn't stop for Christmas. Literally, football is bigger than Jesus now.
Clare: OK. I'll accept *some* boys have feelings. But I do think it's very easy for us all to forget these are people not objects. I just try to remember the other side of things. It maybe time for a change but he doesn't deserve the level of vitriol.
I agree his downfall is his lack of experience. I think he will have learned great lessons from this period, but it appears it's just gone too far to make those lessons count at Norwich. If he is to go I truly hope this hasn't scarred him, or blotted his copybook, and he goes on to great things elsewhere.
As for football being bigger than Jesus, I guess that explains why we haven’t seen Wesley Hoolahan for a while. You've got him on the top of your Christmas tree, haven't you?
Jon: He's not that little is he? Dan Brigham said he's taller than Wes. And Dan is like shin height.
I'd love to buy Alex Neil a pint to say thank you - and remember, although it's not the be all and end all, he is being paid a lot of cash to do a job any of us would do. He's a lucky chap, a good chap, and talented chap, but we need a change.
Merry Xmas Clare.
Clare: I think many fans also believe they would be better at his job right now! But yes, reluctantly I will agree it's gone too far for him and sadly the time has come.
And if Dan is taller than Wes, then Wes is certainly small enough to adorn the top of the Christmas tree. Sounds just like a Paul Lambert formation. Oh, for those heady days….
On that melancholy note Happy Christmas Jon.
Ho. Ho. Hum.