Norwich City this afternoon found themselves looking for a new manager after Canary boss Neil Adams resigned ‘with immediate effect’.
The former City youth coach will, for now, be succeeded by Mike Phelan as the club begin the process of seeking a full-time replacement.
Given the January transfer window is now well and truly open, the onus will be on the Canaries to appoint their new man ASAP – if he is to have any opportunity to reshape the squad before the window slams shut again.
In announcing his decision, Adams gave no reason for his sudden exit. He will, however, be returning in the summer in an as-yet undefined role. Once, one presumes, he has had a chance to lick his wounds.
Adams’ pride must be hurting right now. He remains a thoroughly decent man.
“I firmly believe that we are still on course for a crack at promotion back to the Premier League. That is where this club belongs,” he told the club’s official website.
“However, I feel it is in the best interests of the team that an immediate change is made in order to ensure a positive impact on results,” he added.
The wording of his resignation is telling. He met with representatives of the Board ‘and agreed to resign’. Which can be read one of several ways.
“It goes without saying that I sincerely hope the team achieves success this season and I would like to say a huge thank you to the supporters who have backed me during my tenure as manager.”
Those that did back his short tenure at the helm were starting to dwindle in number as an ever more vocal section began to question whether seventh spot was good enough for a club boasting the kind of Championship strength in depth that Norwich offered.
Returning any club straight back to the Premier League is a particularly challenging ask; the ‘hangover’ is invariably more deep-rooted than many imagine.
However, the run through October and November – coupled to the recent, soulless defeats at Reading and Preston North End may have found Adams questioning his own ability to drive a consistent level of performance out of his players.
Attitude, not ability, has been the question mark of late.
His managerial cause has not been helped by two factors not of his own making.
The first was the declaration that Norwich had ‘scoured Europe’ in the search for a successor to Chris Hughton – a process that led, conveniently, back to City’s own back-yard at Colney and the man that had masterminded the club’s remarkable FA Youth Cup triumph.
It gave sceptical supporters a stick to beat him with once results – and home performances, in particular – started to drift in the late autumn.
The arrival of ex-Manchester United No2 Phelan also left question marks hanging over Adams’ long-term prospects.
It was wholly predictable that the supporters would see a manager in waiting in Phelan – something that, surely, would not have been lost on the original ‘Team Adams’.
There is, of course, a world of difference between managing 18-year-olds and full, professional men grown suddenly rich on Premier League wages.
Adams also discovered how tough it is to follow your natural attacking tendencies in the brutal, back street battles of the Championship.
Determined to put his best attacking foot forward in the wake of the negativity associated with the Hughton era, it remains a very fine line you have to tread between being overly gung-ho and defensively frail as a result.
Grinding out victories is not etched deep into the Adams DNA. For gnarly old warriors like Mick McCarthy at Portman Road, such niceties have long been abandoned in the face of doing whatever it takes to return to the top flight.
Whether Phelan now gets the full-time gig is just one of a number of questions for chief executive David McNally to answer over the course of the next couple of weeks.
If City return to winning ways soon enough and return to the play-off positions, then events of the last seven months will swiftly fade.
If, however, the ship continues to drift in mid-table then the wider doubts will remain. The whole Rioch, Hamilton, Grant, Roeder era ought to have given everyone a lesson in where constant managerial changes lead.
The answer being only down…