Why I have reservations about Norwich City’s new structure
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The last time I penned one of these columns, it was a little over 24 hours before the axe eventually fell on Alex Neil.
I did have my sneaky suspicions it would happen – I even rang the sports editor to double check he hadn't received a steer about just how imminent it was. He had not.
When the Scot was eventually given his marching orders just a day later, I definitely anticipated being able to give my thoughts on his immediate successor, given that I share this column on a bi-weekly basis.
Two weeks have passed and we are still just as in the dark about who will be taking the reins. However, we do know one thing – the club is entering a time of change with a new structure.
Much like the announcement of Alex Neil's dismissal – hours after he had given a press conference – I felt the timing of this announcement was rather strange. This time, it was mere hours before a game. One assumes the players would have been made aware prior to this, otherwise it surely must have been something of a distraction. But that's neither here nor there really, we won on Saturday, so clearly it had no impact.
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In all honesty, my initial reaction to this news was one of apprehension. But then a fear of change isn't uncommon.
The main reason for my apprehension is that I fear this system may play against the main thing I feel is needed in the City dressing room at the minute – unity.
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From Cameron Jerome's comments a few weeks back, it seems clear that there are players in the ranks wishing to pull in separate directions, and divides. It is absolutely imperative that the squad get 100pc on the same page as one another, and I fear the new structure may hinder this.
From the minute the two new men are in place, the players must be made perfectly aware of who they answer to and the manner the structure works.
I would hate for a situation to develop in which factions are formed in the dressing room – those who line up behind the head coach and those who line up behind the sporting director.
Another worry I have, is that the board has placed itself in a position where it has not only one huge appointment to get right in the coming days and weeks, but two.
And not only must they find the right man in each post, they must find two men that can form a strong working relationship from the word go.
However, having had almost a week for the idea to sink in, I can see a lot of positives in it as well – if it is executed well.
One criticism of Norwich City in recent years is that there are too many non-footballing people making football decisions.
Therefore, I can definitely see the benefit in creating an executive post in which a director takes care of the football situations – transfers and such.
If, for example, the new sporting director is tasked with selling the club to a potential new signing, with a 'football person' in this role, this job becomes much easier.
Furthermore, if the thinking behind this is to allow Steve Stone to concentrate on business matters, and free up the head coach more time to concentrate on tactics, then I like it.
However, the big challenge now is making sure these two people are in extremely stringent moulds.
The one thing neither man can afford to have is inflated egos. Were either of the men to have this undesirable characteristic, it could be carnage.
With two people working together in such a manner, there can be no room for ego, as the levy would soon break in the relationship.
It's also important that we find two people who have identical visions, values and ambitions, to make sure they pull in the same direction, much like the players need to at the moment.
I think for this reason the club is taking the right approach in hunting for its sporting director first.
This role seems like the one with the more longevity. It goes without saying really that the minute things start to get sticky it will be the head coach that is first to fall.
Putting the sporting director in place first enables him to pick a man he is confident in, and more importantly one he feels he can work with.
Any friction between head coach and sporting director would create a potentially toxic situation, which is the last thing we need.
However, while I have my apprehensions, I'm going to reserve my final judgements for when I see it in operation. Either way the board have made a bold decision in shaking things up, I applaud them for that.