I’m going to tread very carefully in what follows. Apart from my political blog, I also write a West Ham blog. I’m a long suffering season ticket holder at Upton Park. Last week I wrote a piece on the blog commiserating with Norwich City fans – not because of their league position, but because I considered Glenn Roeder a very unlikely figure to rescue them from the relegation mire.
Let’s look at the facts. Every club he has managed, except Newcastle, he has left them in a worse league position than he found them in - Gillingham, Watford, Newcastle and West Ham. At West Ham he managed it get them relegated despite the presence of such players as Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Paoli Di Canio, Trevor Sinclair, David James and Michael Carrick. That takes a special talent.
West Ham fans constantly complained about Roeder’s lack of man-management and motivational skills. These were on display again this week after the Watford defeat where he said: “One particular player had let us down badly and that is just not acceptable. He knows who he is.” Astonishing. What is said in the dressing room should stay in the dressing room. Can anyone seriously imagine Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger slating one of their players in public like that? Of course not.
I’ve always found a real affinity between Norwich and West Ham fans. We’ve had many players, an indeed managers, in common. Both teams have a tradition of playing attractive football. So it pains me to predict that this is one managerial appointment Norwich will come to regret.
West Ham fans stood by Glenn Roeder when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We all – and I mean all – wished him a speedy recovery. But when he came back to Upton Park last year he insulted our fans and nearly caused a riot by his behaviour.
I wrote all this on my blog and received a volley of abuse from Norwich fans – some were even driven to write to this newspaper’s editor calling for me to be sacked from this column. The whole point of writing a column is to give your honest views. If people don’t like them, fair enough.
I desperately hope I will be proved wrong in my assessment of Glenn Roeder. There’s nothing I would like better than to see Norwich back in the Premiership. It’s where they belong. I just don’t think Roeder is the man who will take them there. But just because you don’t like the message, don’t shoot the messenger.
I’ve been lucky in my life that only one close family member has died in the last 25 years. That changed this week when my Godmother died only three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. I was so lucky that I was able to visit her in hospital to tell her how much I loved her and to thank her for all she had ever done for me. Those who have been though this will know how difficult it was to walk into the room and find her with a totally changed physical appearance. She looked exactly like her mother. But I wouldn’t have missed those moments for anything.
She appointed me the Executor to her will, something I have never done before. I went to see her solicitors on Tuesday and was told that they would charge £185 an hour, plus half a per cent of the value of her house and one per cent of any cash assets to deal with the will and probate.
After I had picked my jaw up off the floor I told them that there was no way I would agree to that. I then asked my blog readers what they thought and more than 100 people replied, all advising them to do it all myself. So that’s what I have decided to do. But I wonder about how many people in similar circumstances just agree to these outrageous charges because they feel they must defer to these hifalutin’ lawyers.
I must admit I was shocked at the pasting Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, got at the hands of the Today programme’s John Humphrys on Wednesday morning. But to go into an interview like that without knowing the answer to the question: how long do you think terror suspects should be locked up for, beggars belief. She is, after all, Home Secretary. We keep being told that the 28 day limit for questioning terrorists needs to be raised to 56 days but I have yet to hear any Labour politician articulate the evidence that this is needed. The Police haven’t asked for it. Indeed they can’t quote a single occasion that an extension would have been necessary. Isn’t the role of Parliament to protect us from politicians who wish to extend the power of the State over the individual? I well remember that in the Apartheid regime in South Africa they also have a 14 day limit, which was then raised to 28 days, then to 90 days and then eventually the Police asked for the limit to be abolished completely. We do not live in a Police state, but if the 56 day limit goes through we grow closer to living in one. And that’s exactly what the terrorists want.