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Perhaps it’s time to take a pause in bid to go forward at Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 09:21 25 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:32 25 March 2017

Paul Heckingbottom has done a good job at Barnsley. Picture: Paul Chesterton

Paul Heckingbottom has done a good job at Barnsley. Picture: Paul Chesterton

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If the atmosphere at the start of the Blackburn game had been decidedly low key, last week’s was positively funereal and was hardly lifted by a game that generated very little in the way of highlights.

However, this was just the sort of scenario that has seen City struggle so often this season, so to secure three points in such an ugly fashion was pleasing, even if Barnsley’s awful finishing made it rather more comfortable than it should have been, and spoilt some neat and attractive build-up play by the visitors.

Paul Heckingbottom has done an impressive job of building a strong Barnsley squad with very limited resources, although he must have been immensely frustrated at having to watch three of his best players, Connor Hourihane, Sam Winnall and James Bree, snapped up by Championship rivals in January, so it’s no surprise that his name has figured prominently in connection with the vacancy at City.

Saturday’s win put City within five points of sixth place, but I won’t be getting excited about that for two reasons. Firstly, because City would have to produce a remarkable upturn in away form and seek favours from others to sneak into the playoffs, and secondly and more importantly, because I no longer believe that promotion this season, after all the problems that the club has experienced, would really be in City’s best interests.

With a new business structure to be bedded in off the field and a significant rebuilding of the playing squad required on it I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that another year in the Championship may be the best long term outcome for the Canaries.

Of course, the oft quoted parachute payments will only continue for one more season, but I believe a summer of rebuilding and a renewed promotion push in August now represents the club’s most realistic chance of getting back to the Premier League, with a genuine prospect of staying there.

That new business structure has obviously generated plenty of debate, much of it positive, over the last week. For some considerable time there has been an air of staleness about the club but the new structure, embodying a much more continental format, looks forward thinking and innovative.

The replacement of a chief executive position with responsibilities across the financial and footballing spectrums with two separate posts means that the new managing director Steve Stone who comes from a largely non-football based background but has already proven himself to be an extremely safe pair of hands and can concentrate on financial management and the day to day running of the business. We at the Trust look forward to working with him.

That will in turn allow the new sporting director, widely reported to be Stuart Webber of Huddersfield Town, to concentrate on the football side of the business at the macro level, including focussing on that long-term weakness of the club, recruitment, while the head coach will be able to concentrate on the team on the pitch without the wider range of responsibilities that Alex Neil and his predecessors were required to deal with.

However, structures are only as good as the people in them and clearly the key to its success or failure will inevitably be how well Webber and the new head coach are able to work together although, sadly, no magical formula exists for that particular chemistry.

Consequently, I think that the board’s belief that the Webber should be in post first and play an active role in the selection of the Head Coach makes absolute sense, even if that means that things don’t move as fast as some fans would like. However, Webber’s appointment is a real show of intent in itself given his success at Huddersfield.

If the board can back that up with the right appointment for the head coach position this could just be the dawning of an exciting new era for the club.

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