Crook leaves Norwich for Australia return

Michael BaileyNorwich City manager Paul Lambert has another backroom vacancy to fill this summer, after coach and reserve team boss Ian Crook left by mutual consent on Thursday night.Michael Bailey

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert has another backroom vacancy to fill this summer, after coach and reserve team boss Ian Crook left by mutual consent last night.

Seven days after the Canaries boss released five members of his League One title-winning squad, City announced 47-year-old playing legend Crook will not stay beyond his current deal - which expires this summer - so he can return to Australia to be with his family.

'I've had a brilliant time here and I'm delighted that, after the extreme disappointment of getting relegated last year, that the club had an enjoyable and successful year in my last season with them,' said Crook.

'After 26 years in the game I just decided I wanted to spend more time with my wife and family back in Australia. I think in the last three years I've probably seen them for less than six months and it's time to put that right.

'I've got so many fantastic memories of my times with Norwich City, both as a player back in the 1980s and 1990s, and then of course during my recent time on the coaching staff.'

Popular as a player, Crook has spent 16 months at Carrow Road since flying back from Australia to form part of Bryan Gunn's management team in January 2009 - initially working as first team coach before managing City's second string at the start of the season; something that continued under Lambert.

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Crook added: 'I think the future is looking really bright for Norwich now. You've a great coaching team with Paul, Ian (Culverhouse, assistant manager) and Gary (Karsa, head of football operations) backed up by some really top people behind the scenes, both at Colney and Carrow Road.

'You've got a top group of professionals in the squad and there's an excellent infrastructure in place - and that all suggests to me there will be some exciting times ahead for the club.

'And I've got to say a word for the Norwich fans. They have always been brilliant to me, back when I was a player and then during my recent time back at the club. Back when I was playing we were getting maybe 16,000 or 17,000 - now we've got full houses every week and experiencing that has been a real joy.'

Although Crook had been involved in football in Japan and Australia before moving back to Norfolk, he does not plan an immediate return to the game.

'As far as the future is concerned as I say I just want to spend some quality time with the family,' Crook told the club's website. 'Would I consider another job in football? Well you can never say never but right now I'm just looking forward to spending some time at home.

'I would certainly like to wish everyone connected with Norwich City all the very best of luck for next season and the future.'

Crook's departure leaves Lambert with a second appointment to make, with Norwich still lacking a permanent goalkeeping coach - although Laurence Batty has been helping out in that position since Paul Crichton's exit in February.

'I'd like to say thanks from myself and everyone else at the club to Ian for all the help and hard work he has put in,' said Lambert.

'He's done a great job with the reserves but he's also been a tremendous help to me and Ian and Gary in helping us to work with the players to achieve promotion this year.

'I fully understand he wants to go back to be with his family in Australia and wish him every success in the future.'