Now Alex Neil has got his way, his Norwich City sales pitch has only just begun
18:04 09 January 2015
From the school of thought that brings such wisdom as ‘every managerial appointment is a gamble’, there is its cousin – where the first and only starting point has to be to give your new man a chance.
Whether Alex Neil or someone else, the majority of Norwich City fans won’t have their favourite for the managerial vacancy sat in the dugout.
That’s always an issue to a degree, but this time the spread of support for candidates had seemed thinner – and the passion vented on such wonders as social media evermore impassioned.
City fans, especially those who attend most games, are a generally good sort – and Neil as their new manager will get their support.
Just like City’s fans did for their players at Preston and Reading, and Neil Adams received during the proceedings of every game under his reign.
But maybe this time, the fans’ reaction is a complete sideshow – and certainly about as far behind the leader of the pack as Mike Phelan sat in the betting for City’s next manager come Wednesday. Out in front – the people whose views really count – are of course, the current City players.
Alex Neil’s first task will be getting them, not the fans, to buy into what he wants and believes. He will fail without it – be it in the opening few games or weeks down the line. Ultimately, despite the wonderful start, that was what cost Neil Adams his chance at taking City back to the top flight.
Now if Alex Neil can perform the kind of reaction he’s managed with most supporters, then he should be fine. For the record, that process has been: “Who? Where? Really? Oh dear. What’s he like? Oh, that’s good. I like what he says. Actually, this could be a good thing. I’m almost excited…”
By all accounts, the homework being undertaken by some City players has already followed said path.
Neil certainly impresses with what he says – and fortunately not in the way of those bosses who love a classy sound bite.
Fascinatingly, most striking were his vocal demands in ensuring he got the role he wanted at Carrow Road. He wanted the control, the trust and the chance to mould things as he sees fit.
Bringing him was in all reality plain sailing – but there’s a little bit that likes the idea of him setting his stall out before everything was sorted. To make sure he was man genuinely charged with looking after City’s footballing future.
It says a lot for a man relatively new on the scene but has always admitted he has no insecurities.
And if everything had fallen through, he could have easily slipped back into things at Hamilton Academical – the tears would’ve turn to joyful ones in an instant.
In fact, it became the case that City have to make sure they got the man that’s led their shortlist for months.
Now they have, it will be everyone’s task to get behind him – and that need started the moment he got the job.
• JUST SAYING…
• I’ve said it plenty of times already – but still feel the need to say it: the timing of Neil Adams’ departure genuinely did surprise me.
Even if that FA Cup performance at Preston was awful – one the players should feel needs to be made up for over the rest of the season, rather than just a game or two.
If two people in a room agree that a resignation is required, it doesn’t really matter if a push came along first – but for what it’s worth, I don’t feel Adams would have been the one to suggest his own departure following those events at Deepdale.
But while there are – I believe – still plenty of details to be sorted out with where Neil is left and what happens next, I find it right that the former City winger’s resignation has left his reputation intact with City fans – if not enhanced. Not many managers would have stepped aside, even if they was an element of being asked to do it.
Time heals anyway, of course – but Neil deservedly leaves with huge respect from the off.
• I’ve said before that no visiting side has particularly impressed me at Carrow Road so far this season – and yes, that does include Bournemouth.
They kept the ball well, and Callum Wilson I like a lot. But it didn’t look like they would tear up the division. In fact, it looked like they would struggle to make the play-offs. A week or two after the game at Carrow Road, they were sitting in the bottom half of the Championship.
Come this weekend, my expectations are considerably higher. What Eddie Howe’s side are doing across the second tier is phenomenal – and therefore, with what they will be aiming to do over the coming months, it would be nice to think their evolution since the last time they played the Canaries will be clear to see.
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey