Friday, May 23, 2014
When Neil Adams was asked if he would take over Norwich City for the last five games of the season he might have been forgiven for politely saying, ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
It was a one-game challenge: beat Fulham, which should be enough to keep City in the Premier League, and you can get away with nothing from the last four games of the season which were, frankly, unwinnable.
The manoeuvre failed and City went down, which moved the goalposts as far as the search for a new manager was concerned.
Adams made no secret of his desire to have the job on a permanent basis. And, think about it, no one else came out and said anything of the sort in public. They had their chances, but no one committed themselves to Norwich City Football Club. One assumes the other candidates had other irons in the fire – West Brom and Celtic spring to mind.
Malky Mackay pretty much remained silent, although he could easily have followed the protocol by getting his agent to spread the word and pop up in a few public places or make himself more easily available to the media and shown a desire. Neil Lennon’s departure from Celtic yesterday perhaps didn’t give him time to advertise his wares should he feel the need, while Gianfranco Zola, even when asked directly, didn’t really say anything but the obvious: “Norwich is a good club”.
And all the time, Adams was waiting for his chance. The only man we knew who really wanted the job.
Now he has got it.
The reaction, I’m sure, will be mixed, although frankly there have been one or two curiosities about this particular managerial appointment process.
City’s relegation clearly didn’t help the cause but it seemed from the very start that there were only a few names in the frame – all of the aforementioned. Usually there are a lot more.
Then there was the fans’ reaction to those ‘candidates’ – it seemed very mixed. There was clearly no overall favourite.
So how do you convince an Adams doubter that he is capable of doing a good job?
First of all, have a look at what happened at Manchester United a year ago: David Moyes was introduced as the Chosen One to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, and it failed miserably. There is no guarantee that anyone will be a success – no matter who he is. Mackay, Lennon, Zola or Adams. Managerial selection isn’t a gamble, but it is a risk.
As City fans saw in the past, club connections don’t always work: Bryan Gunn, Ian Butterworth and Ian Crook had it in abundance, but the recipe tasted awful. Adams has history as a former City player who became a highly respected youth team coach. He was badly treated by Glenn Roeder but he never stooped low enough to vent what we suspect were his true feelings. He played it sensibly, returned to the fold (bizarrely, at the behest of Roeder) and then, a year ago, helped Norwich City win the FA Youth Cup. During that run he behaved in the manner of a man who would one day be the manager of a first team. Somewhere.
That his opportunity has come about because of the failure of another won’t have pleased him: he wants Norwich City to do well.
At the age of 48 he is perfectly placed. He knows the club, the supporters, the ambitions, the expectations, the limitations. He knows that tens of thousands of fans will watch his every move, but he will examine himself in much the same way.
He has got his chance from the football club. What would help him enormously is if the fans gave him his chance too.