No need to gloat at Chris Hughton’s Norwich City exit

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton shows his dejection during the 3-0 loss at Swansea. Picture: PA Norwich City manager Chris Hughton shows his dejection during the 3-0 loss at Swansea. Picture: PA

Saturday, April 12, 2014
6:30 AM

You can almost see it now. Stephen Fry is considering what to do next after the shambles that was Norwich City’s performance against West Brom.

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What’s in a name, Neil?

New City boss Neil Adams is nicknamed Shoes – a nice departure from the likes of Gazzer, Wozza and Tezzer.

Shoes is unusual, and according to the man himself, the story behind it is as boring as the nickname itself.

In an interview with the Stoke Sentinel last year, our Neil said: “Everybody in football knows me as ‘Shoes’ and not many people believe my explanation because that’s as boring as the nickname. Basically, the character Neil in The Young Ones released a song called Hole In My Shoe, and his first line was ‘Hello shoes’. When I turned up at training the day after he’d been on Top of the Pops, Graham Shaw started calling me Shoes ... just because my name is Neil. It later followed me to Everton because Adrian ‘Inchy’ Heath was there too, and it’s been with me ever since.”

So there you have it. Shoes he is, and Shoes he stays.

He discards the yellow and green staff, and puts on the cap of General Melchett.

“If nothing else, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through,” he bellows. How apt.

Fortunately, you can separate fact from fiction. There is no Melchett, no Blackadder, no Baldrick, although there will be those outside Norfolk who believe there has been a comedy of errors at Carrow Road this week. Shame they are wrong.

It’s been nothing to laugh about. Sure, there was a certain dark humour around on Sunday night, but there is little need to gloat over the position of a man who has just been told he can no longer do the job he was hired to do and is therefore being sacked. It’s not quite another one on the dole queue – the pay-off that Chris Hughton takes away would keep most of us in whatever vices we enjoy, and a few more to boot, for the rest of our natural lives.

It wasn’t supposed to be a joyous 
occasion, although those with minimal conscience levels took it that way. It’s not even like we can say “the king is dead, long live the king”. Under Hughton, Norwich City were paupers; short on confidence, goals, points, interest, excitement. It just wasn’t working, and a very impressive specimen of mankind had to lose his job in an effort to effect change. Fortunately, he has been replaced by another good man. Anyone who saw City’s Under-18s FA Youth Cup winning run last season will know that not only did Neil Adams do a good job on the pitch, his demeanour off it was exemplary. His first thought moments after every win was to console the beaten opponents.

He was gracious in victory and showed no signs of the arrogance that pervades the game.

Adams (who frankly looked unrecognisable from the man who arrived here in 1994 – see inset) is a very fine man. Any dealing I have ever had with him, be it professional or in the media room before a game over a coffee during his punditry days, he has always, without fail, been top class.

For the first time since I moved to Norwich, I am 
looking at a new manager of whom I actually have up close and personal knowledge. I wish all the best, as we all do.

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