City boss Byan Gunn this evening started a second, full tour of duty all too well aware that the sceptics were out there lurking in the long grass.
The 45-year-old lacks the experience to guide the Canaries back out of League One is one claim; he was simply the cheap and easy option for a rudderless board is another.
He should have gone straight after that gutless Charlton 'performance' would be a third – just as Nigel Worthington should have been shown the door post-Fulham. All three will, you suspect, be aired at tomorrow night's NCISA-chaired 'emergency' public meeting with its chairman John Tilson having already tied his colours to that particular mast. 'Great guy, but…'
But with chairman Roger Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster already gone and Gunn, Ian Butterworth and Ian Crook now all confirmed in their roles for another full season, the board have pre-empted many of the supporters' demands. Two heads have been delivered on a platter; a third will not be forthcoming.
Decision made, how many of their doubting number will now rally behind the Gunn flag remains to be seen. As ever, results will be his judge and jury. Of that he is well aware.
Those are the rules of the game – do well and you're a hero; today's decision to re-appoint the man who failed to save the Canaries from the drop in his initial 19 games in charge was a bold and an inspired move by the now three-person board.
Fail to deliver the required results in the third tier of English football and his appointment back at the helm will just be another damning charge to lay at the board's door after the ill-fated regimes of Messrs Grant and Roeder tipped the Norfolk side ever nearer the drop.
That's the high wire act the City boss faces. But then he was never one to shirk a challenge…
“My message would be: Get behind the team – and get behind the new management team that have been given the opportunity to take the club forward,” he said simply, after the Canaries this afternoon confirmed Gunn's appointment as manager for another full season.
It would not be Steve Coppell after all. Or Mr Boothroyd. Or Mr Robins.
The doubts will linger. Accusation and recrimination remains thick in the air after Norwich's fall from Championship grace.
“They will obviously have their negativity, but its down to all of us behind the scenes to try and get as many of those people back on our side as possible – and we'll only do that by getting results on the pitch. That and bringing players in that will be committed to the jersey.”
The fact that the likes of a Chrissy Martin and Michael Spillane will be returning from their year-long sabbatical at Kenilworth Road to a face and a voice that they are wholly at home with as opposed to being faced with a whole new set of names and faces after another summer of bloodshed at Colney was a big string to the 'Team Gunn' bow; somehow, at some stage, Norwich have to establish some sense of continuity to their managerial structure.
The kids need stability and assurance if they are to flourish.
“The board of directors have made a decision; they own the football club; now we've got the opportunity to make the most of it,” he said, hopeful that the boardroom would also see some fresh arrivals. Bearing some kind of cash, ideally.
Another reason, he hoped, for the supporters to stay onside and add their full weight to the forthcoming campaign.
“Hopefully, there'll be new investment as well which will be a big help to the playing budget and with that extra support it could make all the difference between a successful season in League One or not.”
As for his own emotions on the back of such a roller-coaster ride of late, they were a very mixed bag. He was very, very raw in that heated Open Day forum; that he cares very deeply about both the football club and the fortunes of his adopted county is, in fairness, never in doubt.
“Relief; determination – but then there's always been determination,” he said, the pain of over-seeing relegation only just starting to ease on the back of this afternoon's news.
“The gut-wrenching feeling that I had last week has gone away with the excitement of looking forward to next season now.
“And to be given the opportunity now to put a wrong right – that's important to me.
“The board have given me the opportunity; they believe in me; they believe in Ian Butterworth and Ian Crook; John Deehan; Paul Crichton – all the people we took in in January – and we all have the opportunity now to build a squad, develop young players at the training ground and compete at the highest level we can in League One.”
He has, at least, been through the mill; the last four months have delivered the kind of experience he never wants to repeat. But it is experience, nevertheless.
“When we came in in January, we felt we could complete that mission and stay in the Championship – and we failed over the last five games.
“And that's an ever-lasting memory for me now. That's a bad experience which I never want to experience again and I really want to focus on the positive going forward and build a team and a back room staff that will help us compete in a very difficult league.
“We now it's not going to be easy, but we have to get together a squad of players that are proud to wear the Norwich City jersey.”
Leave a Reply