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Generation gap opens as Bryan Gunn leaves Norwich

5 June ~ While widespread praise was posted for every on-field contributor in Norwich City’s promotion to the Premier League, a Canary legend was suffering something of an online kicking. Former Norwich City goalkeeper, manager and inaugural inductee of the club’s Hall Of Fame Bryan Gunn is leaving Norfolk to pursue a directorial role at a sports agency in the north-west. The first few hours of message board posting on the subject were positive. After all, since moving to Norwich from Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in 1986 Gunn and his family had become part of the fabric of Norfolk life.

His two-year-old daughter Francesca, who died of leukaemia, is buried in the county and Gunn was a servant of the club on and off (minus a year at Hibernian) for 23 years. In 2002 Gunn was named Sheriff of Norwich in recognition.

Gunn was the goalkeeper who helped steer City to top-flight placings of fifth, fourth and third. It was he who brilliantly denied Adolfo Valencia of Bayern Munich in the possibly the club’s greatest ever victory in 1993 (2-1 away in the UEFA Cup) and kept goal against QPR days after his daughter’s death. In a Football Focus poll of Norwich heroes the twice Player of the Season finished first.

However, it was Gunn’s brief reign as temporary manager (from January to July 2009 as City were relegated to League One) and manager (July to August 2009) that, for many, seems to have eclipsed all else. The local paper’s football message board The Pink ’Un featured such departing shots. “I can't help but think of him as a joke nowadays,” said one. “He really let the club down as a manager,” said another. “I'm afraid this took the shine off any of his achievements for me – big time,” claimed another critic.

Suddenly the social media used to get Gunn the job (a “Make Bryan Gunn Norwich Manager” Facebook petition following Glenn Roeder’s sacking collected 3,000 signatures) was undermining a reputation that took all of Gunn’s adult life to establish. Bear in mind that at 4-0 down at home to Colchester (in what would be a record 7-1 defeat in 2009) Gunn had already received two plastic missiles, in the form of half-a-game-old season tickets, launched at his dugout – and that would have cut deep.

Within a week of the Colchester capitulation, Gunn was sacked by new chief executive David McNally. Many were relieved that a genuine Norwich legend had been spared any more pain. However for some it appeared that only a literal spearing would suffice for his six months as boss. Then, when Gunn announced his departure from the county, what appeared to be a generational divide opened up. “He was a sponger who has delusions of grandeur… and because of this we all paid for it… Tributes my arse.” Equally as many, however, disputed these attacks: “I bet all you lot slagging him off are about 15.”

Soon the debate shifted on to a proposed renaming of the Carrow Road hospitality suite, currently the Gunn Club. “He is moving on and so should we, the less memories I have of that time two years ago the better.” One exchange summed it up: “I think in moments of honesty BG himself would admit now he should never have taken the job,” said one fan. “He may well do,” replied another, “but that doesn't excuse all the garbage being posted on here about him.” Andrew Woods

Comments (11)
Comment by t.j.vickerman 2011-06-05 09:04:05

Sad. For a man who gave so much to a club to be treated like that is sickening. Sure, perhaps he wasn't cut out to be manager but he wasn't sending the team out to lose.

There is a culture of anonymity these days where people use the internet, in particular, to say some pretty harsh things few would have the balls to say in person. (He says while typing a comment on a website.) If you paid enough attention to comments made about you on the internet, you'd have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

Having said all that, Piers Morgan is clearly a c*nt.

Comment by Arturo 2011-06-05 10:05:52

I have mixed feelings on it all. Gunn was a good bloke and a great player, plus he raised a stackload for charity in the region. The fans forgave him for relegation, but many didn't forgive him for staying on. The summer after demotion was a shambles and the kindest reports (plus the ones less likely to get me sued) suggest that the club was run like a holiday camp. If Chief Exec David McNally had joined the board sooner, Gunn would never have been given a second chance. The 1-7 thrashing by Colchester was the perfect opportunity to get rid.

That said, it’s very sad the way it turned out. He became ostracised by the club, his ‘local hero’ mantle was taken away by Darren Huckerby, and, cruellest of ironies, ended up advertising ‘Jobseeker’ magazine. If only he’d stuck to his marketing position, he’d still be at the club now with his popularity intact. Shame, but that's hindsight for you.

Anyway, he's still not as disliked as Glenn Roeder...

Comment by s10_yellow 2011-06-05 10:39:06

The Pink'un forum may not have been the best place to have drawn quotes from on this topic. As a regular reader reactionary attention-seeking is almost a prerequisite for posting and I'd wager that at least some of the posts quoted above are from bored controversy-seeking trolls.

My view is that the blame for the debacle can be pinned entirely to the board at the time for appointing him full-time after relegation with no justification. As stated above, the writing was on the wall as soon as McNasty came in and started ruling with an iron fist and we've never looked back.

He's definitely no football manager and unfortunately we had to learn that the hard way, but taking the long view it seems pathetic to hold grudges given the position we now find ourselves in.

OTBC

Comment by Dalef65 2011-06-05 11:26:39

A sad indictment of modern day fotball culture,that 6 or so momths of bad times can outshine years of acheivment in some fans mind.....

It seems the maxim "you should never go back" applies particular to Norwich City (fine club though they are)

Didnt something similar happen to Mike Walker,when he tried to reprise the good times of the early/mid 90s....?

Comment by markcurtains 2011-06-05 11:57:57

The curse of the ex-player as manager. As a Sheffield Wednesday supporter, I can relate to the above. There has been much discussion over the years on the subject, especially of late given that Danny Wilson has recently taken over at our neighbours' place. Wilson was a solid, reliable performer (an early model Paul Ince to John Sheridan's Gazza, circa Euro 96) in his playing days and part of the 91 Rumbelows Cup winning side but completely out of his depth as a manager and unable to handle "fancy Dan" players (his way of referencing Paolo Di Canio and Benito Carbone) which famously led to the hanging out to dry and subsequent "giving away" of Di Canio following the push on Paul Alcock. It is only now with the prospect of him possibly taking the Blades down to Division 4, that his stock amongst Wednesday fans is beginning to rise again slightly; his playing days all but forgotten.

Other ex-players who didn't cover themselves in glory as managers for The Owls are (from my era) Chris Turner and Trevor Francis, although in Francis' case this would appear very harsh as he did get us to 4 Wembley appearances in the 92/93 season, however some would argue this was still Ron Atkinson's team. Going further back Derek Dooley has been brought into focus, given the "Wilson is ex-Wednesday" protests at Bramall Lane , as a Wednesday player he had what is surely an insurmountable goalscoring ratio but following his premature retirement from playing a less than sparkling managerial record and was sacked on Christmas Eve 1973. According to fans who were around at that time, deservingly so, the timing not having the significance it would in the modern day as games were played in an even more congested Christmas fixture list. However the irony of Sheffield United fans gathering around a statue of Dooley to protest about another ex Wednesday man, was not lost on Owls fans.

It's a shame for people such as Bryan Gunn that despite his heroics (and you didn't have to be a Canaries fan to know how good he was for them) his short tenure as manager is what some fans remember him for. This is also the reason I wouldn't want John Sheridan as Wednesday manager

Comment by Arturo 2011-06-05 14:13:32

s10_yellow, you're so right about the Pink'Un message board. I stopped reading it a couple of years ago - it's painful to look at, so I'd not seen any of the Gunn comments on there. Time is a great healer though, and maybe in the years to come, things will level out a little more.

As for Mike Walker, it simply didn't work out second time around for various reasons (there's a good WSC article somewhere in the vaults), but his sacking after two 5-0 wins came out of the blue for many. He was also afforded more sympathy given that his wife died of cancer in his final season at Carrow Road.

(note - Apologies for all the ?'s in my earlier post. A technical glitch rather than a load of typos.)

Comment by All New George 2011-06-05 15:42:31

I trust The Pink 'Un is a local newspaper site? If so, it seems to be a nationwide thing going on. Local paper messageboards are the online equivalent of the pavement outside a council estate off licence, in that tards and knuckledraggers all need somewhere to congregate.

I always thought Norwich fans were such a nice bunch as well.

Comment by Flynnie 2011-06-05 21:31:40

"If so, it seems to be a nationwide thing going on. Local paper messageboards are the online equivalent of the pavement outside a council estate off licence, in that tards and knuckledraggers all need somewhere to congregate. "

Worldwide thing - American local newspaper websites are virtual festivals of hate-spewing right-wing trolls.

Comment by Lincoln 2011-06-06 11:04:05

From my experience trolls always seem to be right wing, lord knows there are enough on the Lincolnshire Echo website.

Comment by Kowalski 2011-06-07 20:48:54

Jesus, Norwich are promoted to the Premier League and some of their fans are still not content enough with their lot.

They'd rather denigrate a notable figure from the last 20 years because of 6 months. And what did he do in that 6 month period? He tried to serve his club to the best of his ability.

These people don't deserve access to polite society never mind season tickets. I'd suggest the immediate institution of football reducation centres, we need to teach these people a thing or too.

Comment by SuffolkCanary 2011-06-09 12:34:53

As a Norwich fan who is old enough to remember the glory days in Europe I felt I had to write to give my point of view. Bryan Gunn was a good keeper for Norwich but is in no sense a 'legend'. We have had better keepers before and since, Keelan, Woods, Greeno. Gunn's reputation to a large extent is based on the terrible loss of his daughter and his dignity afterwards and charitable work he did since.
However, by any stretch Gunn was an utter disaster as a manager. He appeared on local TV to promote his case, his daughter ran a facebook campaign and the board at the time bought it and took him on after one big win against Barnsley. It says a lot about the state of the club then that NCFC appointed their Marketing Manager to the post. He should have gone after relegation but stayed on. The events mentioned above were the result of frustration and a feeling of helplessness at Delia and her happy clappy cronies taking us towards oblivion. That was our lowest point. Now we have McNasty and Lambert, a proper football manager and we're on the up again. I wish Bryan Gunn well in life but surely even he would admit he was the worst manager NCFC have ever had (and there is some stiff competition - Roeder, Grant etc)

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