Club chairman Roger Munby has confirmed that the door was still open for a Fourth Musketeer to join Bryan Gunn's merry band – fuelling speculation that a further member of the Class of 93 could be heading back to Norfolk for a Carrow Road reunion.
“There is still an opportunity [for Bryan] to add an assistant manager,” said Munby, with Ian Butterworth's name one doing the rounds.
The arrival of the Hartlepool ressies boss would complete 'the set' so to speak from Munich and Milan – keeper, skipper, playmaker and coach all back together in the same building as Butterworth is reunited with Gunn, Ian Crook and John Deehan in time for next Tuesday night's home clash with Southampton.
As the Canaries have already discovered when they tried to prise Paul Stephenson out of Hartlepool's grasp, they are no push-overs. The fact that they have a high-profile FA Cup fourth round TV clash with West Ham United this weekend won't help; what might is the fact that – behind the scenes – everything is up for grabs after Pools dismissed boss Danny Wilson before Christmas and installed the 'director of football' Chris Turner in his place.
He remains the caretaker chief ahead of the live TV clash with the Hammers. Whether the chairman would want his apple-cart rocked in the run-up to the game is a moot point. Butterworth – who celebrates his own 45th birthday this Sunday, a week after Crook celebrated his – may yet have to wait a while before joining the party.
That an opportunity knocked for Gunn to strengthen his hand further was not in doubt after Glenn Roeder departed with both Stephenson and Adam Sadler in tow; Deehan, body-wise, simply steps into Gunn's former role as head of player recruitment. Lee Clark, Roeder's former No2, who abandoned ship for Huddersfield has, likewise, yet to be replaced.
“It has been net three out – or three out and net two in – so there is a role, potentially. But we'll see how we go and I'm sure that Bryan will look to John Deehan and Ian Crook for advice on that score; as to whether they are short.”
It had, said Munby, been a whirlwind seven days as the board terminated the ill-worded reign of Roeder and began their quest to find his replacement – a search that ended a little after nine o'clock yesterday, if it hadn't by five o'clock on Saturday.
“We've been through a fairly fast process,” said the City chairman. “And I have to give great credit to Neil [Doncaster], the chief executive, for the way that he put the process together; the way that he organised the board to respond; the fact that we were able to look at a long list of applications; the fact that we were able to look at the results of the two previous rounds of interviews over the previous two occasions.
“And then to put together a short-list – Bryan Gunn being one of them. That went through this week and we were able unanimously – as we always do – to take a decision and invite Bryan to join us at 10.30 last night [Tuesday].”
After all the emotion of Saturday, the FaceBook campaigns of Monday and all else that comes with living and breathing Norwich City and Norfolk for the last 22 years, was there a danger that the heart could rule the head when it came to appointing Gunn to about the one Carrow Road job that had thus far eluded him?
“Yes, there was,” said Munby. “But the board acts unanimously and every individual has the opportunity to say: 'Whoa, hang on a tick, can we go over it again…'
“But heart ruling head? Heart feeds head – and there have been plenty of feeds from the heart to the head in recent days.
“Take Saturday,” added Munby, granted a grandstand view of Gunn's debut in the technical area in that 4-0 win over the Tykes.
“When you saw the calm and quiet authoritative figure that Bryan cut on the touchline and you realised his role as the go-between between 24,500 fans and 11 professionals…
“And you watched the body language of the players – and then you looked at that in retrospect, I think you realised that there's a management talent here.”
The suggestion was that the players were playing without fear of contradiction; that they had – particularly in the case of Wes Hoolahan – been given the licence to both roam and express themselves. And one or two duly took full advantage of the new atmosphere.
“So there's talent there that comes without experience – the experience will come with Ian Crook and with John Deehan. And from Bryan – from the man-management experience he's gained in working here, at the football club, in virtually every department at the club.”
And it is, at the end of the day, only through to the summer; at which point all parties will sit down and ask: 'How's it been for you?'
If it its not for one or either then everyone can move on before Gunn's name gets dragged through the streets – a miserable fate that has befallen two of his more immediate predecessors.
“Particularly in Bryan's case, we're very mindful of the fact that there needs to be some succession planning in place,” said Munby, evidently keen that the club – even if it was three or four years hence – had the kind of natural, Canary order in place that allowed a Brown to follow Bond; a Walker to follow Stringer.
“And the last thing this club would want to tolerate is any kind of falling out – and it just won't happen. We're conscious of it and we'll pre-plan it.
“But we have precedent for it; the great dynasty of John Bond, Ken Brown, Dave Stringer, Mike Walker… it saw people being promoted from within this organisation.
“And if you take Dave Stringer, he takes considerable comfort from just standing to one side and allowing someone else to take over. And managed well, there's no reason why we can't look to the future.”
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