Thursday 13 August ~
Have Norwich City turned the corner with a 4-0 victory at Yeovil in the League Cup? Can a 7-1 home defeat ever be described as a blip? The last time I wrote for this column we'd just conceded four before half time on a last-day must-win relegation decider in May. You could say we're getting good at anticlimax. Back in January Norwich's owner Delia Smith looked far and wide for a new manager – and ended up appointing former club hospitality staff member Bryan Gunn.
He took eight games to register his first win. Once relegated we all presumed she'd put him out of his misery. No, his contract was renewed, but his cult status compromised supporters' willingness to criticise a failing team.
The 25,000 that paid to watch our League One curtain raiser against Colchester on Saturday created a carnival atmosphere to encourage Gunn's newly assembled team. Aren't we nice. Like an ever-loyal spaniel, happy to chase after that stick you've just thrown over the edge of a cliff. To convince myself that it wasn't all just a bad dream here are Saturday's key moments.
3.22: 4-0 down, including two gifts from our new goalkeeper (signed by former goalkeeper Gunn). This prompts two supporters to invade the technical area and throw their season tickets at the manager.
4.00: We manage our first shot on target of the season.
4.22: Manager Gunn takes action and makes his first substitutions.
Full time: Our first match outside the top two divisions in 50 years ends in the heaviest home defeat of our 107-year history.
The PA stifles a snigger as he announces our man of the match. Sky Sports News has to display the score as “Norwich 1 Colchester 7 (seven)”. In the press room a perplexed Gunn fails to offer any explanation for the performance but does comment on the pitch invaders: “The quality of our stewards is one thing we pride ourselves on here at Carrow Road.” Surprisingly, this wasn't quite enough to restore the pride of 200 angry supporters who had gathered outside the ground to demand the departure of manager and majority shareholder.
Since no one has taken up Smith's repeated offer to sell the club it seems the “yellow submarine” might continue to nosedive. Yet arguably the most surprising statistic from our record-breaking display on Saturday was that only 200 stayed behind to protest – that's less than one per cent of those who sat through the entire game.
Like Delia, Norwich supporters are unquestionably committed. The away end was even pretty full at Yeovil despite the nine-hour round trip. However, complacency in the stands can breed complacency in the boardroom. Whether or not Tuesday’s performance can be a turning point remains to be seen but it might depend as much on the fans’ reaction as that of those employed by the club. Dan Thompson