The MFW columnists have their say on who should take over the reins at Carrow RoadTue 13 May 14 by Gary Gowers
With significant changes afoot at Carrow Road we asked the MyFootballWriter columnists for their thoughts on how, why and who. Here’s what they said…
A managerial wish list is a bit like a players wish list: unless we know with certainty who is available, it can’t be meaningful. But of those we know would take the job, I’ve been impressed by what Neeyul has tried and by what I hear of his response to some disciplinary challenges.
Against that, Malky knows his way around the Championship, has not failed anywhere (a rarity). Importantly, both want it and have hunger to succeed. But for either to succeed, the club need to improve their recruitment personnel and procedures.
Who goes, who stays and who comes in, particularly at ‘no 9′? The answers to those questions will determine whether we’re competitive – more so than who picks and sets up the team.
Whoever takes the reins at Carrow Road in the next seven days has to have one, essential quality – a willingness to keep Willie McKay in race horses.
If there was a lesson to be learned from events of the last ten months, it is the knowledge that to ever have a realistic hope of sustaining yourself as a mid-tier Premier League club, understandings have to be made with the McKays of this world.
Equally, the ability to nurture and command a youth policy that delivers Southampton-standard talent year after year is the second essential requirement of a provincial football club looking to hold their own in the madhouse of the EPL.
Finally, he must know his way around the continent. The lower reaches of the football league is not about to deliver the goods.
Well, if you were to hold a gun to my head and demand an answer… I would of course seek to have you prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But not before I’d suggested a Mackay/Adams combination. I get the impression that this is where we might be heading anyway; Adams seems to be toning down his stated desire to be the manager a little, saying that he wants to be ‘involved with the first team’ – and David McNally has now said that the management structure is being looked at.
My guess is that conversations are taking place to see whether Mackay and Adams would be happy to work together. I wouldn’t be unhappy with this.
We know that Malky has a track record of success in the Championship – and how can you not love someone who, moments after Cardiff sealed promotion last year, told a reporter that the club he was most looking forward to visiting was Norwich?
I’ve also enjoyed the more positive approach of Adams in the last few weeks, and I think he’s made an impact on a largely demoralised squad. I’d like him to play a part in the management team – but I do have niggling doubts about putting him in overall charge at this stage.
David McNally’s hints about having a figure within the clubs coaching framework whose responsibility is more about scouting players and transfers suggests to me that the director of football role is one that the club are looking to create and that whoever is appointed to that role will be overseeing Neil Adams who I think will be named as the new manager of Norwich City by Thursday or Friday of this week.
Adams will subsequently head up a three strong coaching team, aided and abetted by the the two coaches who were tasked with working alongside him from the off, Mark Robson and Paul Nevin.
The director of football may be the candidate who is already in work, I would suspect, however, releasing him from his current role is more of a procedural formality rather than something which might become a long drawn out process as it was with Paul Lambert. Probably an ex-Premier League or Championship manager who is in his early-mid 50’s and who has not had a managers job for a few years.
That is the path I think the club will take.
My own choice as manager would be Gianfranco Zola in tandem with Adams. I think the club need to appoint a manager with both standing and personality within the game, someone who would attract players to the club and give it a little experience of coaching from a completely different angle and philosophy.
I appreciate that Zola has not, as they say, pulled up any trees in either of his two managerial roles, however, I also think that, like Paul Lambert did with Livingstone, Wycombe and Colchester, he has ‘done the knowledge, managerial wise and would be able to apply that experience to a new role and be a success in it. Continuity will be important over the coming year as well so would like Zola (or whoever) to be given a three year contract and a guarantee that he will, barring relegation to League One, be given that time to rebuild the club and take us forward at all levels.
Looking at the leading candidates to take over at Norwich; the one that sticks out to me is Neil Lennon. The last two managerial appointments we have made have been those that have been doing well at their clubs, and I certainly think it’s a formula that we should stick behind.
Lennon has done a good job at Celtic with an impressive win ratio of nearly 70% combined with some impressive results and performances in the Champions League; he is also arguably the best man to get the best out of Gary Hooper. I also think he would give us a good chance of holding onto Robert Snodgrass, who has been linked with a move to Celtic – presumably because Lennon is a fan.
If John Ruddy were to move on this summer then Lennon might be able to persuade Fraser Forster to join us as well – and I think he would be an excellent replacement. Lennon seems to have an aggressive nature at times with plenty of passion and that combined with no connection to Norwich could be just what we need.
The Celtic squad certainly contains a few players I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Norwich shirt so that’s another positive. Some people may question if he would come to us in the Championship, but the Canaries give him the possibility of being a Premier League manager within a season and that might be too tempting to turn down.
I’d be thrilled to see Neil Lennon in the Carrow Road dugout come August.
Lennon can boast an unblemished record of success as a manager over the border. Now it’s time to prove himself in the more demanding world of English football.
His drive and ambition could revitalise City’s disillusioned players and fans, guiding us back to the PL where the Scot is so keen to make his name.
And there’re other factors. A previous City manager who achieved a measure of success came with a Celtic pedigree. There’s an historic Celtic/McNally link. And it was Lennon who got the best out of Gary Hooper, maybe our first choice striker next season.
What of the also runs? Neil Adams is learning his trade. Ditto Tim Sherwood. Malky Mackay’s time in south Wales doesn’t fill me with confidence. Gianfranco Zola‘s managerial CV features two failures.
In Neil Lennon, City will have a winner.
Alongside fashion and music, football is influenced with what has come before. Whatever the supporter didn’t want previously, he sure as hell wants it now.
He doesn’t want adjustment - just a complete opposite of previous incarnation – whatever that was.
Foreign? No! English.
Experienced? We need up-and-coming.
Nice? Course not, Nasty!
Whoever we get, it will be opposite of Chris Hughton’s stylings.
It was clear to me that within David McNally’s interview, a lot has been sorted already.
I believe that we have offered Malky Mackay the job and he has accepted. But he, and we, want Ian Moody in a Director of Football position – If that fails, due to his current contract with Crystal Palace, someone else may fulfil that role.
And I think it would be a person who was impressed the Norwich City board and that would be Mr Neil Adams.
To me, the most striking aspect about the list of possible next Norwich City managers is how, at first glance, there appear to be few genuinely attractive options for us to seriously pursue.
It is hard to escape the spectre of Malky MacKay of course; even if a fair proportion of those yearning for his appointment do so while consumed in a cloud of sentimentality. His would appear the sensible, pragmatic option; but should the City board play it safe with this?
Eddie Howe is a second appealing option, and although his last foray in to management of a “bigger” club, with Burnley, wasn’t wildly successful, he has shown at Bournemouth that he has the potential to be an astute manager. However, could he realistically be tempted away from his current project on the south coast?
Whoever is ultimately selected, the crucial element of this decision is that Norwich must adopt a clear, focussed vision for rebuilding and appoint someone who both shares this and has the nous to put it in to practice both in the transfer market and on the pitch. Plateauing is not an option.
After a lot of thinking, I feel aggrieved to say that I still don’t have a clear name in my head of who I want in charge. Much has been said against the type of football we might have to endure if Malky Mackay were to be given the nod. Would his approach change if he had different personnel? Who can be sure?
One thing I’ve never really understood is clamouring for a man who ‘knows the club’, ‘knows the area’ or has some kind of link to our fine city. Although I’m obviously more than aware that Malky fits that bill, I don’t think it should be a deciding factor on appointing him over another who doesn’t. As far as I know Paul Lambert bypassed all of these pre-requisites and that didn’t hinder his success.
It’s the board’s job to pick the right man for the task in hand having conducted interviews that we’re unfortunately not privy to – that is, achieving promotion in the Championship. Malky does have that on his CV. I certainly think picking Neil Adams primarily on a knowing-the-club basis would be a mistake.
It goes without saying that whoever takes over will earn my full support in trying to improve our fortunes, but Malky Mackay would be my personal preference.
He performed well at the helm of a cash-strapped Watford side before taking Cardiff City to the Championship title within two years of his appointment.
Critics often wax lyrical about a defensive style, but that only applied to a difficult first few months for him in the Premier League with the Vincent Tan fiasco looming over him. He wasn’t blameless, but lessons will have been learned (lest we forget his managerial career is very much in it’s infancy) and he’ll be better for those experiences.
With no such behind-the-scenes drama going on at Carrow Road he’d be in prime position to excel, and for me his promotion-winning credentials as both a player (Norwich, West Ham and Watford) and manager should make him top of the shortlist.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the coach/director of football arrangement – albeit that looks to be the way we’re heading – on the basis there appear to be more examples of it not working than working. But that probably says more about my antiquated views on the game than anything else.
One thing is clear: every managerial appointment is a gamble. No guarantees. No such thing as a ’safe pair of hands’.
What it needs above all else – and is where the luck comes in – is for that person to be a ‘good fit’ for Norwich City. Paul Lambert and Chris Hughton were both good football men (as the saying goes…) but only the former was a good fit.
Assuming we’re heading down the two-tier route, the director of football needs to be one with gravitas, an extensive contacts list (and no, I don’t mean Joe Kinnear) and one who knows what it takes to head northwards out of the Championship. And the coach needs to be one with a footballing philosophy; one who’ll reinstill ‘the Norwich City way’.
While I suspect his Burnley experience will have deterred him from another move away from the south coast, I’d love to see Eddie Howe at the helm. I see him as one, in the mould of Lambert, whose fearlessness could reinvigorate our joie de vivre in supporting City.
It’s a long shot, but he’d get my vote.
Well, that’s what we think. Would love to hear your thoughts…