What might have been

Towards the end of last season I had a preliminary chat with someone connected to Glenn Roeder with a view to doing a book called The Gaffer. As I’m in the white heat of my commercial period, what I was thinking was this: I’ve probably got another football book left in me, if Stoke don’t get promoted I reckon I could do one on what it’s really like managing a football club. I imagine it’s an enormous pain in the arse. It could be a little study on pain, misery and frustration.

Roeder was sacked today, and I don’t expect to see him back in work any time in the near future. How would I have felt about this, had the book gone to contract? My first thoughts were that I would be seriously fed up: I was really looking for a ‘season-with’ to get at least one full cycle in the life of the job. My second, and slightly more considered, opinion was that it would come as a relief, that the book could be rather a short one, could end abruptly, which I could claim as a stylistic device, and that I could knock off for a while and take an unanticipated holiday. In the white heat of my commercial period, I am always wishing for idleness. My third thoughts were – thank God Stoke went up: Roeder is an unattractive individual who alienated himself from the fan-base some time ago at an AGM when, in answer to a slightly long-winded, though apparently intelligent, fan’s question from the floor, regarding player selections and line ups, he began his reply by sarcastically saying that, ‘He didn’t remember the gentleman’s tenure as manager of the England team…’

You have to be one hell of an arrogant dimwit to say stuff like that when you are addressing people who follow the club from cradle to grave; you most especially can’t say it when you are presiding over shocking performances and are scrabbling about at the wrong end of the table, as Norwich City were at that point in time, and where they have remained since. On top of that, Roeder talks in a meaningless and dismal brand of therapy-speak gobbledegook which he delivers as though they are the words of the Dalai Lama, and on top of that nothing is ever his fault. Last night his wretched team lost 0-1 in the FA Cup at home to Charlton Athletic, themselves at the foot of the division, and without a win in eighteen matches, a run stretching back to October of last year. The calls for Roeder’s head rang out loud and long at the final whistle. The Norwich board kept Nigel Worthington in employment for months on end under a weekly onslaught of this kind, but they had a soft spot for Nigel, since he had achieved the Premiership for the club. I don’t think anyone in Norfolk had a soft spot for Roeder, with the exception of the man himself. I don’t even support the team, but I am delighted to see the back of him.

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