Where did it all go wrong at Norwich City for Neil Adams?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It all started so promisingly for Neil Adams as manager of Norwich City but his tenure, sadly, will now be remembered as a failure.
Adams has resigned after 27 games in charge this season, with the Canaries sitting just three points outside of the play-offs but 10 points adrift of the automatic promotion places.
Saturday's embarrassing 2-0 loss at lower-level Preston North End saw City knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round and saw many supporters calling for Adams to go.
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But the former City midfielder looked to have turned the corner prior to Christmas.
A 2-1 home defeat to Reading at the end of November prompted angry chanting from the Carrow Road faithful, with the Canaries slipping to 11th place in the Championship table.
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That anger spilled over to social media that day, with chief executive David McNally and goalkeeper John Ruddy taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
But 10 points from a possible 12 in the next four games, including 5-0 and 6-1 home wins against Huddersfield and Millwall respectively, looked to have City back on track.
Former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan had been brought in to assist Adams and the partnership looked to be paying dividends.
But a poor performance in a 2-1 loss at Reading at the end of December, followed by Saturday's FA Cup shock, has seen Adams decide to step down.
Where did it all go wrong though?
Adams' eighth match in charge as permanent manager saw City reach the Championship summit for the first time.
An emphatic 3-0 win at Brentford, following a swashbuckling comeback to win 4-2 at Cardiff, saw Adams and his side receiving high praise from all angles.
With five wins and one draw in his first seven league games, Adams looked to be making quick work of engineering an immediate return to the top flight.
But perhaps the rot had already set in.
Prior to the trip to Cardiff, Bournemouth had left Norfolk with a point after a 1-1 draw which was to set a frustrating tone at Carrow Road.
Cameron Jerome's brace saved another point for the Canaries against Birmingham when they next returned to home turf, drawing 2-2.
Next was a game which Adams insisted he was taking seriously, a trip to League Two side Shrewsbury Town in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
With the likes of Gary Hooper and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe being handed a start at Greenhous Meadow as they continued their injury comebacks, City lost 1-0 and put in a poor performance.
That minor blip appeared to have been overcome quickly, with a 3-1 win at bottom-of-the-table crisis club Blackpool, but that proved to be a false dawn.
Two home games offered Adams' side the chance to regain their momentum but a 1-0 loss to Charlton and 1-1 draw with Rotherham saw that chance wasted.
The customary defeat at Fulham was followed by another frustrating home game, drawing 1-1 with Leeds, followed by a dull 0-0 stalemate at struggling Sheffield Wednesday.
The pressure was building for Adams, as he faced the biggest test of his management skills in senior football.
Another Jerome brace finally brought some respite for City supporters at Carrow Road, earning a 2-1 win against Bolton which, like most home games, should have been far more comfortable.
It seemed Adams may have managed to guide his side away from bumpy ground – but that hope was soon dismissed, as the yellow bubble well and truly burst.
A 4-0 loss at Middlesbrough and a late capitulation to lose 2-1 at Nottingham Forest prompted a reaction, with the sacking of first-team coach Mark Robson.
The vast experience of former Phelan was announced as the replacement but before the former Canaries captain began his new role, another home draw left fans frustrated once again, Gary Hooper rescuing a 3-3 draw against Brighton.
Phelan's arrival had prompted hopes of a fresh start ahead of the visit of Reading – that hope was soon obliterated though.
Hooper, handed what many considered to be an overdue start, scored early but the Canaries contrived to concede two poor goals from corners and were beaten 2-1, deservedly.
That left Adams with a record of five draws and two defeats from 10 home games and saw many City followers make clear they had lost faith in his abilities, with a loud chant of 'what a load of rubbish' at full-time.
Although he managed to hold back the tide for another month, the damage was already done for many supporters and the 49-year-old has today accepted defeat and stood down from his role.
It is a sad end to the story for a popular man who played over 200 times for the Canaries, who worked as a co-commentator for BBC Radio Norfolk for many years and who guided the club's under-18 team to FA Youth Cup glory in 2013.
He now joins the likes of Bryan Gunn, Gary Megson and John Deehan on the list of former City players who could not repeat their playing success as manager of the club.
Will Phelan become the next if he assumes permanent control, or could he buck the trend?
Who would you like to see appointed as the next Norwich City manager? Leave your comments below.