Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roeder Sacked

Norwich City fired manager Glenn Roeder this morning after the teams woeful and embarrassing performance against Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup last night. Fan protests after the game signaled the end was near. Roeder's relationship with fans has been strained this season and it seems the board recognized that his position was completely untenable once the demonstrations had begun. Assistants Paul Stevenson and Adam Sadler have also been sacked.

Once the fans of Norwich start to call for your head, staying behind to protest outside the board room windows, the axe is coming. The board understood this all too well and moved this morning to remove Glenn Roeder from what has become a horrid season for Norwich City.

My beloved Canaries currently sit 21st and only outside of the relegation zone by goal difference. Without a win in their last five, the slide looked unstoppable. City will now need to move fast to find a replacement before a host of crucial fixtures against teams around Norwich at the bottom of the table.

Last season Roeder arrived in a whirlwind of enthusiasm and turned the club on it's head. He changed key personnel, removing coaches and physios from their long standing positions. He cut dead wood from the squad and signed a host of loan players who pulled Norwich City from the bottom of the table to Colaship survival.

This is Roeder's speciality, riding in on a horse, rocking the boat and keeping a team up. The second season of his tenure however (Newcastle, West Ham and now Norwich) brings trouble. Roeder is not the most likable man and his arrogance and lack of respect for the Norwich fans quickly went against him.

This is a part of the world where fans have a say. The club listens and respects the 25,000 bodies that pile through the door during the good times and the bad. Roeder often lost his fuse with supporters at road shows and most famously at the AGM, when he countered a supporter's criticism with the response "I must have missed your tenure as England manager." Often stubborn, often rude, it was no surprise that Norfolk was not the place for a man that didn't understand this part of the country and what the people of Norfolk expected from their manager and his team. No one expects us to win the league, but good football, effort and respect will always go a long way in East Anglia.

Roeder may be a terrible manager, but, to his credit, he has a super eye for signing good players and has many contacts within the game. He brought in some promising players and captured some good loans from Premiership clubs. However, once they arrived, he had no clue how to use them. If anyone was ever suited to a 'Director of football' role it is Glenn Roeder.

A major factor in Norwich City's recent slump in form has been conceding soft goals. inexcusable mistakes. Roeder's naivety in selecting his center backs has led to 8 center back partnerships this season and zero consistency. This is the one position where a rapport between two players needs to be developed and consistency instilled. It's the backbone of any team. We have often had right backs and left backs occupying the central defence roles to disastrous results.

It wasn't just at the back that Roeder tinkered. He played midfielders up front while experienced forwards sat on the bench and played midfielders out of position, changing the team so often that no 11 players really had time to gel as a unit.

Many criticised the man's use of loan players, but I cannot go there. When played in the right places he brought in better players than we could afford to buy permanently. Leroy Lita and John Kennedy being two examples. But once they left, we looked in desperate need of fresh blood in those positions. Especially at the back where just one center back currently plays.

One fit center back (Gary Doherty) in the entire squad!

Roeder did make mistakes with his loan policy for sure. Troy Archibald-Henville arrived from Tottenham and proceeded to rot in the reserves. According to Roeder he was 'raw'. The youngster watched from the stands before being sent back to Tottenham. I believe we are still paying a portion of his wages as the deal was a season-long loan. But Roeder's stubborn defiance to use the player meant that the void left by Dejan Stefanovic's long-term absence was filled by a number of bodies, with only one being a center back (Kennedy), and he was often injured.

Roeder's relationship with his players is also a major factor in the product on the pitch. He often threw his players under the bus during press conferences. When Wesley Hoolahan arrived from Blackpool, he was a confident and talented prospect. Roeder destroyed his confidence in a matter of weeks by publicly criticizing the player.

Roeder: Not a 'people' person.

I can not remember a more unpopular manager at Norwich City. His stubborn refusal to recall out of favor forwards ahead of last nights game with Charlton, left the squad extremely thin and lacking options. Fan favourite Jamie Cureton was shipped off on loan to Barnsley but not welcome back under Roeder.

Even last night Roeder refused to bring the forward back even though his only striking options were loanee Arturo Lupoli and an un-fit Carl Cort. Another Norwich forward, Chris Martin, scored for Luton last night and press suggestions of his return were quelled by Roeder. A man who never seemed like the type to dwell on a problem long. It was his way or no way, and his lack of thought about what he was going to say often isolated his players and landed him in trouble with fans AND the FA.

"The crowd were against us - they were against the team and against me at
times, but I have very broad shoulders, I've been in the game a long time. I
enjoy a fight and I'll stand up to anybody."
-Glenn Roeder last night.
At the end of the day, any patience he may have been afforded in Norfolk was destroyed by his rude attitude and one way relationship with the clubs fans. He never understood that this particular club is all about the fans and not about one man's personal quest. Even last night after the loss to a team who hadn't won in 18 outings, the man "vowed to carry on" and, as often, his comments above suggested that he was at war with the club's supporters.

There is a lot of work ahead for the new man, whoever he may be, to salvage this club from a drop to League One, but they will have some good players to work with. The only positive aspect of Roeder's tenure was that he had an eye for talent. Roeder signings David Bell, Matty Pattison, Sammy Clingan and Wes Hoolahan, along with the inherited Russell and Croft leave the new man a good midfield to work with. The immediate concern, however, is a lack of goals and a leaky defence. These are areas that will need to be addressed straight away in the January window to get City back on track.

The board took their time appointing Roeder last year, but they don't have two weeks this time around. Crucial games at home to Barnsley, Southampton and a trip to Doncaster could define the rest of the season. Every point counts now.

Norwich City supporters are a special breed who enjoy a healthy relationship with their local club. The fans deserve much better than they have had in recent times. How many clubs can boast gates of 25,000 when the team sits in the bottom 3? Not many!

The board has little money to spend and a large challenge ahead.

Anyone seen my prayer mat?



The Fan's Attic said...

"Roeder Sacked"...sounds like a lockerroom prank.

Andrew said...

And here I go again, actually caring about some Colaship team in a faraway land with no immediate prospects of being a winner. But I do care.

Good round up Bigus, for real for real. I hope NC will turn it around in this second half of the season. Just eke out the relegation fight, and focus on next year. The players are there and the support is there.

jjf3 said...

BD: Nice summary/history of what has happened to your beloved Canaries - well-written, too. Keep your head up, my man - as you pointed out, Roeder, for better or worse, left you with the necessary talent. Find a way to get a little spine in the central defense, and the pieces are there to easily survive relegation if a new manager can hit the ground running...

I truly hope the NC board can make a quick and enlightened choice, BD. Thanks to you, I'll be tracking them either way, and I'd prefer a chance to actually see them on Setanta on Saturdays next year...