New Canary coach Ian Crook tonight admitted that he's going to have to hit the ground running – there's no time to catch his breath as City's relegation dogfight stepped up another couple of gears.
For not only do the struggling Norfolk side now face two games in the space four, sapping days – both are against teams locked in the same, desperate fight to avoid the drop with Southampton up first at Carrow Road tomorrow night; a trip to Doncaster Rovers to follow on Friday.
Having conducted his first, full training session up at Colney yesterday, Crook knows that he has little time to establish a set routine for his new charges; that will only come with time.
For now it is in at the deep end and 'Up and at em!' – starting with that emotional homecoming at Carrow Road tomorrow night for the former Canary playmaker.
“You'd like to have a situation where you can try to set some sort of parameters that the boys can work under,” said the 46-year-old, as he was officially unveiled at Colney this morning – new Canary boss Bryan Gunn being the Master of Ceremonies.
“But we're not able to do that at the moment because the games are coming so thick and fast. You don't want players standing round going through some structure on a day or two before a game – you want something shorter and sharper,” said the former 'high performance director' of the Newcastle Jets, as Gunn let his new coach get down to work this weekend.
“So it'll probably be learning on the run over the next week. And then once we get into a sort of weekly pattern, then we can start to do some more work in terms of shape and things.”
By all accounts, footballers tend to like a set routine; they like to know what they are doing and when.
That, it would be appear, chimes well with Crook's coaching philosophies – ones that twice, almost, caught Norwich's eye. His name featured in and around the last two managerial appointments, only for distance, experience and time away from the UK game to count against him.
Embedded in the midst of Bryan Gunn and John Deehan – and all with reports of Ian Butterworth being on his way – the board clearly felt that this was an ideal opportunity to slip Crook back into the City system and, potentially, start to rebuild a 'boot room' succession of the Brown-Stringer-Walker ilk.
“Two or three years ago when Granty [Peter Grant] got the job, I spoke to the club then. How close I got? Not close enough, obviously.
“I missed out on that then and then the next time was when Glenn [Roeder] got the job and I was in Japan at the time. Nothing ever sort of materialised then. But whether it's been close or a million miles away, I don't really know. Probably best talking to the board about that.”
The one string to his bow that everyone is already talking about is his ability to unearth one or two rough Aussie diamonds; players that few other clubs in the Football League will ever have noticed.
“There's players who have come out here and proved that they can do a job,” said Crook, who if he puts the next Tim Cahill in a City shirt is likely to earn the board's gratitude as and when an Everton come a-sniffing.
“Over the last few years, they've produced a lot of players that have maybe gone into Holland and places like this because technically they're very good.
“But, for me, there's some that can do a job here just in terms of their physical presence. And they just have a fabulous work ethic.”
Sat alongside him, City's now ex-head of player recruitment was delighted to be able to call upon such knowledge and contacts. “They are quality players that come out of Australia – we've seen that with the players that are in the Premier League at the moment.
“And ones that Ian might have possibly mentioned to the club in the past which we weren't quick enough to react on,” said Gunn. “So now we have a great opportunity – someone who knows the Australian league well and Australian football players. So we'll be open to him raising [the awareness] of the players towards us and looking at the possibilities.”
In amongst the squad he has just inherited, Crook can at least find players of a similar footballing ilk to himself – Wes Hoolahan, Mark Fotheringham and, indeed, a Jamie Cureton, they all like to play.
“Any team needs a blend,” said Crook. “A blend of a lot of things. But it's no secret that I love the game played what I believe is the right way which I believe is getting the ball down and passing.
“But the important thing is to win games; win games and you can build confidence; I'm sure the best thing that happened for the boys was winning 4-0 at the weekend – that's worth everything to them.”
Overall, it was clear that Gunn's initial phone call on January 18 was one of Crook's better birthday messages.
“It's an easy thing to say because I'm here and no-one else has offered it, but I think it [the job] would have been the only one that I would have come back for,” said Crook, after ten years in the Far East and Australia.
“I've had opportunities at two other places over the last two or three years, but we felt that the lifestyle we had out in Australia at the time wasn't worth coming back for.
“But this certainly was.”