'Captain Charisma' makes case for defence

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The Independent Football

Five times Glenn Roeder has argued his case to be appointed manager of a football club, and on each and every occasion he has been successful. The wise, or otherwise, people running Gillingham in 1992, Watford in 1993, West Ham in 2001 and Newcastle in 2006 all concluded the former centre-half was the best man for their job, and now those in charge at Norwich agree.

Listening to Roeder at the Canaries' training complex on Friday, it was possible to understand why. Intelligent, knowledgeable, analytical, determined and passionate, he cut an impressive, almost formidable figure. Talk to supporters at his previous clubs, however, and they are more likely to use words such as uninspired or mediocre. "Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, along comes Captain Charisma," groaned one letter writer to the 'Eastern Daily Press'.

His critics, Roeder argues, might be well advised to scratch the surface "a little deeper". At West Ham, for example, he led the club to seventh place in the Premier League in his first season, before they were relegated the following year.

"West Ham got 53 points in that first season, and 42 points in the second. To go down with 42 points will probably never happen again in the Premiership, but add those totals together, and then compare it with those achieved by the teams managed by Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley and Steve McClaren, the three everybody talks about as being the best young English managers.

"At Newcastle, despite going through a season when there were 13 major medical operations on players, my win ratio was up there with Bobby Robson's, and well above those of a lot of high-profile managers.

"I can throw a lot of statistics like that at you. So I understand the supporters will be angry and disappointed about what has been going on here, and have their own feelings about my appointment, but now is not the time to vent those feelings.

"Since leaving Newcastle I've been sounded out by a few clubs, and politely made it clear I was not interested. But Norwich is a big club, without doubt a Premiership set-up, and I have the belief and confidence I can change things for the better."

There is, he concedes, much to be done at Carrow Road, and not much time in which to do it. Lee Clark has agreed to leave Newcastle to become assistant manager and a new coach will come in early this week, but it is the playing staff which fans expect to be shaken up, and Roeder intends to oblige.

"The squad is too small, in both senses of the word. Too many players are not under pressure for their place, they know they will start the next game whether they've played well or not. We also need to be bigger, more powerful, to do well; like Watford."

The arrival of the tall centre-half Martin Taylor from Birmingham will be the first of "three or four" loan signings before the January transfer window. And when Roeder says Norwich players not involved in today's televised derby against Ipswich should be "absolutely sick", the implication is clear.

"You know 90 per cent about a player after the first couple of training sessions, so players not included against Ipswich have got to ask themselves why. There has to be a lot more aggression in training, and on the pitch, then they can go back to being the nice people they obviously are. Style of play matters to me, but for the moment it's all about stopping losing matches. We had a crossing and finishing session and the number of times the ball hit the net was pleasing, but the players need to be brave, and do it in front of 24,000 people."

Bravery is something even Roeder's worst critics have never accused him of lacking. The brain tumour which caused his collapse in April 2003 would have changed anyone's outlook on life, let alone that of a family man with three children, but Roeder insists the episode must be put in perspective.

"I had my yearly scan a week ago, which was clear, and I don't give it a minute's thought. The medical reasons behind what happened are nothing to do with pressure of work or stress. Of course it makes you remember what's important, though I hope I hadn't lost sight of that anyway.

"This is a beautiful part of the world, and my intention is to be here a long time. I was appointed because I have a good record getting teams out of poor positions. For the moment,that's what it's all about."

Roeder's first game in charge of Norwich against Ipswich is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 12.45