Mike Phelan tasked with changing the Norwich City mood – and he’s made a good start already
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Credit to Norwich City where it’s due – they utilised the current international break perfectly in terms of shuffling from their chosen trio to shifting the mood in a positive direction, all in time for their return to Carrow Road action this Saturday.
The questions still headed Neil Adams’ way over Mark Robson’s sacking, the ins and outs of the decision and reasons why. That took place at Colney – and Adams fended them like Geoffrey Boycott in his pomp, primed with dead bat.
For me, there were still a few unanswered questions – but in truth, in an on the record forum and with the events still relatively fresh in people’s minds, that was always going to be case.
Instead, yesterday’s announcement of Mike Phelan’s impending arrival as first-team coach under Adams and alongside Gary Holt provided the perfect platform to move the agenda towards the future, before the past caused any unnecessary damage.
And that is a fair viewpoint, given the almost universal glee that has welcomed Phelan’s arrival. A man who not proved intensely popular as a player and captain at Carrow Road, but has retained that popularity despite a more difficult period as assistant to Gary Megson during some of the club’s darkest days.
The experience Phelan has picked up since then, of course, really is something else.
It often feels like Sir Alex Ferguson was a far better colleague than tutor – especially in terms of his coaching staff. Many departed his side at Manchester United to seek dugout success on their own – and most of them struggled at some point, if not chronically.
So for Phelan, a man who has achieved a tremendous amount in the game, there should still be a feeling deep inside him that he can once again prove himself – at a club that would love to see him play a big part in a successful return.
No doubt it will be great to have a catch-up with Mike and get his thoughts on being back in the game – there will probably be a queue.
But of course, Phelan’s arrival is just as much about Neil Adams.
The City boss agreed with the question asked of him at Colney – that he is almost back at square one; with a City fanbase in need of persuading that he is the man to not only take the Canaries forward, but ultimately to take them up.
And as many supporters have discussed since yesterday’s news was announced, he will now have to do that with an elephant in the room.
Phelan’s odds have tumbled over him eventually becoming City’s next manager. Even if there is an upturn in fortunes from here on in, for some people that will be mostly down to the impact of Phelan’s arrival.
By its very nature, it will be a difficult situation for Adams to deal with. But then, so has been the last few weeks – and you imagine the City boss would much rather have it the way that comes with enjoying wins and points.
In reality no matter who the coach was, the same questions and situations would have arisen. That was the case at Queens Park Rangers last season when Steve McClaren stepped in to assist Harry Redknapp – before he left to turn Derby into Championship leadership material.
One side has been promoted – the other looks good to do it this time around. Both Adams and Phelan will be hoping this is City’s turn too.
• Just Saying…
It is stunning to see Malky Mackay able to return to management as quickly as he has, after such damaging revelations. And it’s hard to reconcile his Wigan appointment with anything that can help football’s external image.
Yet at the same time, there is a sense Mackay is keen to learn from his mistakes and prove he’s not the person those text messages portrayed – and that does go a long way to someone deserving a second chance.
The FA should have already dealt with the disciplinary issues – and you expect that process will now be quickened up. From then on, it will all be down to Malky.
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey