Strife of Bryan in the hotseat

HE may be a dyed-in-the-wool Canary, but even the most ardent of Ipswich Town fans would have to concede that Bryan Gunn is one of football's good guys.

HE may be a dyed-in-the-wool Canary, but even the most ardent of Ipswich Town fans would have to concede that Bryan Gunn is one of football's good guys.

However, the former goalkeeper appears to be gluten for punishment after accepting the poisoned chalice of managing crisis club Norwich City.

With an empty bank account, a threadbare squad and disharmony on the terraces, the Carrow Road hot seat is hardly the most attractive of job opportunities right now.

And with a bitter relegation battle to fight, it is hardly surprising that out-of-work coaches were not queuing up in their droves to hand in CVs.

Celebrity chef Delia Smith and her fellow directors decided to offer the job to Gunn after he steered Norwich to a 4-0 victory over Barnsley on Saturday.

Many Norwich fans think his accepting of the role is a blunder and will only tarnish his special relationship with the City faithful - but the big Scotsman has always been prone to the occasional gaffe.

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Gunn, 45, is still fondly remembered in these parts for his majestic 86th minute 'air kick' against Ipswich in April 1996, caused by a dastardly divot, which lost his side derby in the most embarrassing manner.

But Town legend John Wark - one of Gunn's former East Anglian derby rivals but a close footballing friend - said he was thrilled for his old adversary.

“I'm made up for Gunny,” said Wark, 51. “I'm glad they got the right result on Saturday. I know I'm an Ipswich fan but I still want Norwich to stay up.

“I think the players love Gunny - you can see that in the way they played for him at the weekend. It's a tough job but he has to keep them up and regroup in the summer. Good luck to him - I hope he does well.”

Ipswich Town supporters trust chairman Carl Day also revealed his delighted at the appointment - but his joy is down to a belief that Gunn's inexperience could cost Norwich dear.

“As a Town fan I'm pleased because they have gone for an inexperienced manager at a time when experience would be more prudent.

“It seems to be a decision based on one result and it's a sign of the times that Norwich City no longer has an attraction for managers.

“I have met Bryan and he is a cracking guy. He's an astute and charming man, but he's taken on a tough challenge.”

Gunn, who made 477 appearances in goal for the Yellows, succeeds Glenn Roeder who was dismissed last week.

He will be supported by Norwich favourite Ian Crook as first team coach and former goal ace - and Ipswich old boy - John Deehan as chief scout.

Gunn's 17-year-old daughter, Melissa, recently set up a group on social networking website Facebook, entitled “Bryan Gunn for manager”, posting an impassioned speech on why he deserved the job. Nearly 2,000 people joined the group before his appointment.

John Tilson, chairman of Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association, said: “Every single Norwich City fan wants success and will want success for this management team and the football club.

“I still think the board will be criticised for taking the cheap and easy emotional option.

“They've made mistakes before not having people with vast Norwich City experience - well they have gone a bit overboard this time with three legends of the football club.

“I just want these guys to succeed and I'm sure the fans will too.”

Will Bryan Gunn be a success at Carrow Road? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The life of Bryan:

LARGER-than-life Bryan Gunn made his mark on his adoptive Norfolk through the charity and community work carried out by him and his family - born out of a tragedy that puts the importance of the beautiful game into context.

The Scotsman moved to Carrow Road in October 1986 after former Aberdeen boss Alex Ferguson sold the young stopper.

Gunn was a fixture between the goalposts for nearly 500 games over 11 years after Chris Woods left City for Scottish giants Rangers.

His time at Norwich included the halcyon moments when City finished third in the top flight of English football, opening the door to Europe where they memorably beat mighty Bayern Munich.

Gunn was diagnosed with a debilitating spine condition, ankylosing spondylitis, at the age of 28, but managed to keep playing until he was 35, thanks to anti-inflammatory drugs.

It was the kind of bravery he needed in large measure when health matters dealt a dreadful blow to his young family.

Daughter Francesca died from leukaemia when she was just two-and-a-half.

Gunn and wife and Susan used the inspiration of Francesca's short life to launch a leukaemia appeal which was initially aimed at raising just a few thousand pounds in the youngster's memory.

However it has already passed the �800,000 mark, opened a Francesca Gunn Laboratory at UEA, paid for nursing sisters at hospitals in Norwich and Gorleston and launched a support line for parents of children with cancer or leukaemia - far beyond the family expectations.

After leaving Norwich in 1998, Gunn spent a brief spell at Hibernian before finally retiring in March 1999.

Soon after, he returned to Carrow Road to take up a string of commercial, coaching, scouting, and ambassadorial roles.

It also saw him become Sheriff of Norwich in 2002, the Canaries' centenary season and tenth anniversary of the Bryan Gunn Leukaemia Appeal.

BRYAN Gunn's Portman Road bloomer is still fondly remembered by Ipswich Town fans.

It came on Sunday, April 14 1996, with the score at 1-1 with just four minutes remaining.

Ian Marshall had netted for Town with substitute Jamie Cureton, who had dyed his hair green for the occasion, bagging an equaliser for the Canaries.

Keeper Gunn went to deal with Robert Ullathorne's back-pass when the ball suddenly careered up off a divot and away from his attempted kick.

The ball trundled over the line as the crestfallen Gunn sat on his backside looking on in horror.

A spectator at the game described the incident on a website majoring on the best gaffes in football.

He wrote: “Gunn sprinted out of his box to belt the ball as far upfield as possible.

“As his foot was arching through its powerful trajectory, the ball struck a tuft of the severely cut-up pitch, bobbled over his foot and trickled in slow motion into the goal, leaving the Scotland number two playing Nike air football.

“It was all very funny until someone at the front tried to drag the sorry Norwich goalie into the crowd while he was retrieving the ball a few minutes later.

“The temperature rose, seats from the Portman Stand started flying from the Norwich fans.”

And the Daily Telegraph reported: “Ipswich celebration after a dramatic victory was cut short when a quartet of Norwich players claimed they had been struck by rival supporters.

“There were scenes of relief and joy as a Bryan Gunn mis-kick handed the home side a crucial victory to give them renewed hope of making the promotion play-offs, but the reaction of a few, described as 'morons' by the Norwich manager Gary Megson, went completely over the top.

“As hundreds of fans flooded the pitch at the end several appeared to jostle with the beaten Norwich players.”

IT seems like an age ago that Norwich City were rubbing shoulders with the big boys of football, both domestically and in Europe.

Since 1995, when the Canaries tumbled out of the Premier League with Ipswich Town, a series of managers have tried - and failed - to bring the good times back to Carrow Road.

Martin O'Neill:

The current Aston Villa boss brought hope to City's long-suffering supporters at the start of the 1995-96 campaign. And after a scintillating start, a return to the top flight looked a formality.

But a fall out with former chairman Robert Chase saw the Irishman decide it was time to move on - to Leicester which he led to the Premiership and League Cup success.

Gary Megson:

The current Bolton boss's first taste of management was not a success, and he was soon replaced by an old warhorse.

Mike Walker:

A magnificent first spell in charge was followed by a less than impressive return in 1996. Walker left in 1998 after a miserable season of underachievement.

Bruce Rioch:

Rioch took over in 1998, but his two years at the helm failed to deliver.

The former Arsenal boss left Norfolk to take over at Wigan.

Bryan Hamilton:

Former Ipswich ace Hamilton was appointed in 2000 - the same year he left the post.

Nigel Worthington:

The Northern Irishman's stint spanned six seasons and included a Division One championship title.

But after City were relegated - thanks to a final day 6-0 hammering at Fulham - and a rotten start to life in the second tier, the axe was wielded.

Peter Grant:

Fish-phobic Grant took over in 2006 but, despite a promising start, led City into the doldrums before his sacking in 2007.

Glenn Roeder:

Former West Ham and Newcastle boss Roeder came with a warning - his tenure usually starts well before fading rapidly.

History was certainly repeated at Carrow Road. Roeder hauled Norwich clear of relegation in his first season - before leading the club in a basement battle in his second.

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