Watching on as Mike Phelan and Neil Adams show us their Norwich City blueprint
22:10 28 November 2014
Most press conferences tend to act as a study in body language. That and picking through the words with a fine-toothed comb. But Thursday afternoon at Colney, there was something extra in the air.
Mike Phelan entered the media room at Norwich City’s training base and proceeded to sit, at times almost slouch, as he bounced off answers to his questions in the manner you would expect of a man who was sat to the right of Sir Alex Ferguson for numerous seasons.
If some Canaries supporters have been worried things were a little soft in the City camp, that feels an unlikely environment where Phelan is involved. At Colney, he had ‘don’t mess’ written deep in his eyes.
Neil Adams cut a relaxed figure sat alongside his new coach – the man he helped choose, with a view to making his time as Norwich manager more of a success.
Again, some City fans might find a wry smile arrived on their face with that last statement, given – the theory goes – Phelan could quite easily step into Adams’ seat if things continue to go as pear-shaped as in eight of the last nine games.
However from shared glances, jokes and opinions, the rapport between the two men at the same interview table on Thursday spoke volumes – at least for the starting point of their working relationship in sharing the Carrow Road dugout as manager and coach.
Of course, come Reading’s visit to Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon there will be a lot more eyes on the body language and behaviour of City’s coaching staff – and the watchers will include the players on the pitch, who seemed to exude the benefits of a new face in the camp during our press conference stint at Colney.
Clearly these haven’t been the easiest few weeks for Adams, but there was a good energy about how he dealt with Thursday’s press conference – and indeed, Tuesday night’s annual general meeting at Carrow Road; although it was hard not to think of it as the most high-profile Canary Call of his post-playing days.
Ignoring some of the more touchy elements on social media, there is definitively a significant amount of people desperate to see Adams’ tenure as manager be a success.
And despite his previous reported hunger to give management a go, Phelan’s 18 months or so out of the game have left him hungrier to help out – ahead of waiting for a club to give him a go in their hot seat.
That could be the most important point of them all – because we are at a defining point in City’s season. Hindsight isn’t needed to realise that.
Phelan’s arrival is a time-stamped reference you will hear a lot over the rest of the season. What happens from here will be as keenly watched as every twitch and glance shared in that Thursday press conference.
And if the rest of City’s season looks as cohesive, calm and confident as our latest lunchtime at Colney, then this new chapter will have a happy ending.
• JUST SAYING…
It speaks volumes that Thursday’s closure of the Football League loan window passed with little note at Carrow Road.
Clearly it would be great to see Remi Matthews and Carlton Morris make a name for themselves at Burton and York respectively – just as Harry Toffolo is doing at Swindon. And you imagine it’s a big second month coming up for Elliott Bennett at Brighton.
But in terms of here at Carrow Road, the coaching staff have all they need – at least until January. Time to stop looking at each other and start recording some positive results.
And for the record, I’m sure it’ll be a win on Saturday.
• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey