Canary caretaker boss Bryan Gunn revealed a little of his tactical thinking after yesterday's remarkable 4-0 win over Barnsley – in particular, just what do you do with Wes Hoolahan.
Play him was one answer, after the former Blackpool playmaker went in and out of Glenn Roeder's favour; play him where he wants, was the other string to Gunn's tactical bow as Hoolahan drifted here, there and everywhere over the course of this weekend's remarkable contest.
“I thought the second-half performance was excellent – I thought the first-half was a little bit nervous at the beginning,” said Gunn, now with a 100% record as Canary boss to his name.
Whether it will prove to be his one and only hour-and-a-half in charge of his beloved Canaries will depend on this week's interviews. And, indeed, whether the 45-year-old actually decides to formally throw his name into the hat.
He was, he told the Press afterwards, due to have “a little think” over such matters this weekend after watching his new charges play with all the freedom and finish anyone could have wished for after that hesitant opening spell. And all with Hoolahan in its midst.
“In the second-half we raised our game and the players showed what sort of level they can get to,” said the former City Sheriff. “And I told them that we expect that all the time now. And, hopefully, in the 18 games that are left we're going to get the same reaction.”
One of the names on the scoresheet was all but inevitable – it was an afternoon made for Jamie Cureton and he didn't disappoint with that instinctive nose for a chance as Tykes' veteran defender Darren Moore dithered disastrously on the edge of his own box. The first name, however, was less expected. Particularly, given its context too.
“I think there was a good chance that if you had a pound on Jamie to score today, you'd win some money,” said Gunn. “If you had a pound on Wes Hoolahan to score with his right foot, you'd have won a fortune…'
It was Hoolahan's first goal in a City shirt as he darted onto a Darel Russell through ball, before calmly rounding the Barnsley keeper and slotting home from a tight angle. Off his wrong foot.
“It feels got to finally get on the scoresheet,” he told reporters afterwards. “I've been here a few months now and it feels great to finally get my first for Norwich.”
His stand-in boss was full of praise for the talented Dubliner after making a big call tactically – in from the start, Hoolahan could easily have seen that nominal role on the left-hand side go to either a David Bell or a Matty Pattison as Gunn threw Russell up threw the middle with the recalled Cureton.
“Wes has got that little bit of magic in him,” said the City goalkeeping legend. “The areas of the pitch that he played in today suited him; he was well protected by Mark Fotheringham and Sammy Clingan.”
And obeyed Gunn's instructions to the letter. Not.
“He kept drifting over to the right-hand side, so we just asked him to try and keep the shape a bit better in the second-half. But he didn't listen – he started drifting over to the right-hand side again and scored a goal, so who am I to criticise him?”
All of which suited the player himself to a 'T'.
“Gunny told me to get on the ball, put a bit of pressure on and just go for it,” he said afterwards.
“And it's part of my game – I like just getting on the ball and running around and bringing other people into play and creating chances.”
Hoolahan wasn't the only one to notice a change of atmosphere in the wake of Roeder's exit.
“There's such a difference – it's strange what a couple of days can do,” he said. “The crowd were fantastic tday from the word go – and we got the first goal which we've struggled to get in recent games. I think if you get the first you can usually go on to get a few more.”
He also offered his caretaker boss a pat on the back. “Gunny did a great job today and we got a great result.”
His role wasn't only big decision that the long-time City No1 had to make – Russell for Carl Cort was another. There yellow and green blood told.
“Carl's fit. But we needed people who we knew would give their all,” said Gunn, with Russell earning his due reward with that thumping, 90th minute header from a Bell cross.
“And we needed 16 players that were the fittest players as well. And Rusty [Russell] knew that he was going to be in for a battle today – and I told him that before the game. But he was willing to take the hits. And he carried on taking the hits – in fact I think he even took another hit after he scored his goal.
“He showed his character and that's the type of player that he is. And I have nothing but respect for the way that they all went about their jobs today.”
And there was clearly no 'i' in the word team-work. For having already mentioned the advice he had received from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of yesterday's game, Gunn was swift to thank those behind the scenes at Colney who had rallied to his flag after the tearful and traumatic events of Wednesday afternoon and the exit of Roeder and his two, coaching sidekicks Paul Stephenson and the newly-arrived Adam Sadler.
“I've got to admit that the backing that I've got off the backroom staff and the players has been excellent.
“It has been quite traumatic – but I'm also quite proud of the achievement as well,” said Gunn, swift to pay tribute to the helping hands of goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright and Academy chief Rick Martin, both of whom doing 'Team Gunn' proud.
“I have to take my hat off to Tommy Wright and Ricky Martin for their coaching experience as well,” he added. “Their help was invaluable in the dressing room in making sure that we matched up against a very good Barnsley side.”
Not only matched, but battered come the final whistle as the odds on the Big Man getting the full-time job came in just that more of a shade.