Everyone is a critic but Neil Adams’ verdict is final at Norwich City
11:45 13 November 2014
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Neil Adams will have rapidly discovered with each fresh instalment of Championship frustration there are thousands of managers in the making across Norfolk.
"Neil Adams is judged, the rest of us are not. If he gets more wrong than right he is out of a job. The rest of us just roll on to scrutinise the next in line and the cycle starts all over again."
Painful late defeats, heavy hammerings, draws contrived from winning positions, all sate a thirst for answers among fans and media.
Adams’ selections and team shapes are now forensically dissected, more often than not through the prism of hindsight.
Nathan Redmond’s omission at the City Ground made it inevitable Norwich were on a loser when the teams were announced an hour before kick-off in the East Midlands. Twitter had already delivered its damning verdict. No wingers equalled no width and no hope.
The late implosion which unfolded in such dramatic fashion merely fuelled the belief that Adams had got it wrong; conveniently overlooking Russell Martin’s productive shift offering width down the right flank in contrast to Steven Whittaker’s overall productivity in recent weeks. Or the presence of three defensively-minded midfielders which afforded Jonny Howson the freedom to not only score a fine first-half goal but run the show until Forest stirred after the interval.
Most outside the camp would have been surprised to see Redmond omitted but Adams is paid to make those decisions. The rest of us offer opinions.
Adams is judged, the rest of us are not. If he gets more wrong than right he is out of a job. The rest of us just roll on to scrutinise the next in line and the cycle starts all over again.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with Adams’ ‘wingless wonders’ experiment in Nottingham, if City had defended properly for the final moments there would have been no such scrutiny of perceived selection failings.
Yet until Norwich get back to winning ways it is an inevitable consequence of the current downturn.
Wes Hoolahan was the answer at the outset, the key to unlocking the door, until Championship opponents decided it was time to deny him space to wreak havoc and his influence waned and he became part of the problem, prior to his injury at Fulham.
Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey were the answer as Norwich surged to the top of the standings but Gary O’Neil or Vadis Ofoe were increasingly viewed as part of the solution when momentum stalled.
Strip this debate right down and it is less about systems and personnel and everything about the fluctuating currents of form and confidence.
Lewis Grabban was a prolific striker in the good times, now he plays with a growing frustration and a sense of desperation as he spurns each fresh goalscoring chance.
To this point Adams has shown a greater reluctance to shuffle his options at the top end of the pitch. The manager’s glowing eulogy towards Cameron Jerome after his recent Bolton salvo demonstrate the former Stoke striker is viewed as indispensable. Kyle Lafferty has had limited chance to impress centrally as a potential partner, but Gary Hooper’s continued omission seems increasingly harder to justify.
Hooper’s Norwich career so far has been blighted by injury and periods of forced inactivity, but his goalscoring record is the equal of any within this City first team squad.
Given the dearth of goals, a player with his penalty box instincts warrants a chance. But that is just an opinion. One of many in circulation and its only Adams’ that counts.