Writer: Mike Field
Date:Saturday February 28 2009
Martin O'Neill has offered to host a dinner for angry fans who turned up to the CSKA Moscow match unaware we would be fielding such a weakened team.
The fans who had spent thousands following the teams European run were obviously angered by what many fans believe was a total capitulation by the manager who prioritised our league campaign.
This is of course notwithstanding the fact that the youngsters who came in did a very admirable job and were in many ways unlucky not to secure a result themselves.
The offer was made to around 300 passengers during the flight home on Friday where O'Neill said he stood by his decision, and that the meal is his way of saying thankyou to the loyal fans who have spent good money during the UEFA campaign.
Plenty of fans are still angry about the decision, at least so far that we had no experienced option on the bench if the need arises.
But yet again, O'Neill and the club have taken the flack and dealt with it admirably. It can't have been an easy decision to make for O'Neill and this gesture I guess will be heavily welcomed by the fans concerned.
A good laugh, good nosh and maybe a bit of clearing the air will go a long way as we now concentrate on the league campaign.
The dinner is to be heald in the Holte Suite, but the date has yet to be decided.
The press will spin this into an apology, and whilst it may signify that and fans may take it as such, O'Neill lives and dies by his decisions, and with the CSKA match being our 3rd in 6 days, even if you didn't agree with the decision you can still see the logic behind it.
I doubt O'Neill views it as an apology, but in either case it's a fantastic gesture.
A quote the BBC obtained from one supporter on the flight:
'Its a nice touch to come and say that and softens the blow of the trip. It takes a lot of bottle to do that and shows what type of manager he is.'
Date:Saturday February 28 2009
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