Right manager can still rescue Norwich City from looming wilderness
06:30 07 January 2015
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So 2015 is going to be another one of those years at Carrow Road it seems.
The first proper working day of the new year brought the first shockwaves as Neil Adams found himself with the unenviable task of clearing his desk just eight months after being appointed Norwich City manager.
On a personal level it’s very sad. This wasn’t just any old manager who happened to be passing through the revolving door that might as well have been fitted to the office at Colney. This was Neil Adams (pictured), a man who got into the main parking space at the club’s training ground via the scenic route.
I remember my long-term commentary colleague being keen to make good time on those Saturday night motorway journeys back from the far flung corners of the country.
Whether it was Plymouth, Carlisle or Swansea, Neil’s attentions had already turned to his duties coaching with the Canaries’ academy on those chilly Sunday mornings long before we reached the home straight marked by Elveden – back when the idea of a dual carriageway seemed as likely as Manchester United ever failing to qualify for the Champions League.
I always sensed a burning desire within Neil to make it as a manager. The commentary job was a handy way of watching plenty of football and putting that analytical tactical brain to the test.
He was not going to take the plunge until he was sure he was ready. Professional pride meant he would not take a job unless he was absolutely certain he could do it successfully. He also needed an opportunity to show what he could do.
The way he guided City to FA Youth Cup glory two seasons ago should never be underestimated. To beat Chelsea in both legs of the final was a triumph that must always sit proudly on the Adams CV.
It also gave the Carrow Road top brass more than a gentle nudge that they had a potential manager within their midst. They didn’t expect to be giving him the big job within a year but that’s what happened as confidence in Chris Hughton evaporated at the last possible Premier League moment.
It’s worth pointing out that nobody wanted the Norwich City manager’s job more than Neil Adams did last May. No end of candidates were linked, a few were interviewed but from Malky Mackay to Gianfranco Zola, no-one’s eyes lit up more at the prospect of standing on a Championship touchline at Norwich City’s time of great need more than Neil’s.
Desire isn’t everything but at a time when the Carrow Road faithful was feeling neglected and crying out for some passion the appointment didn’t seem any more of a gamble than many of the others who found themselves the subjects of whispers around Norfolk.
At the end of September it looked a shrewd move. A 3-1 win at Blackpool put City top of the Championship and seemingly on course for a Premier League return and free of the relegation rustiness that was grinding the gears of Cardiff and Fulham.
While Preston’s FA Cup humbling of the Canaries may have proved the final straw, it was during autumn that Neil Adams learnt the true meaning of the word ‘fall’. A series of poor results saw first become 11th and the bold ‘two points per game’ target set out by Adams at the start of the season started to head off into the Championship sunset.
It’s over to the board now. With half a season to go and promotion far from impossible, the right manager could still salvage something from the situation. If the next one also only lasts eight months then Norwich’s best chance of a Premier League return will have gone and a few more years in the football wilderness may beckon.
Strap in everybody, here we go again.