New City chief executive David McNally today revealed that he was no stranger to many of football's larger-than-life characters – Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed and agent to all-too many a star Willie McKay principal among them.
Four years at Craven Cottage under the Harrod's owner should – you would expect – make working for Delia Smith something of a breeze; the fact that the 47-year-old has also come across the likes of McKay and Co in his nine years within the football business should also stand him in good stead as he looks to breathe new life and fresh hope into the relegated Canaries this summer.
Did he enjoy the kind of hand-to-hand combat any chief executive faces when dealing with the agents of this world?
“I do – I do,” he said. “And I welcome them – providing everyone's being fair and honest, that's something I look forward to.
“And, in fairness, there are some tremendously professional football agents; there are some that are tremendously unprofessional. And, yes, I have had one or two dealins with Willie and others – and that's the nature of the game.”
He also has four years working for Al Fayed on his cv. The Guardian's recent examination of football's frightening finances revealed that Al Fayed is now second only to his Chelsea neighbour Roman Abramovich in terms of benevolence – he has pumped ?174 million into the West London club. And, in fairness, reaped his rewards with that seventh-placed finish and a ticket to Europe next season.
But he can't, surely, be the easiest of employers?
“Was he an interesting employer? Absolutely,” said the 47-year-old. “I will always be grateful for the opportunity – and four years at Fulham is no mean feat. And they were packed full of interesting experiences.
“And we progressed as a business – both commercially and, latterly, from a sporting perspective too.”
The two parties went their different way in December, however.
“The reasons why you leave a business are a matter for you and that particular employer at that time, but I've got lots of great friends still at the club and no-one was more pleased than I to see Roy Hodgson take the team into Europe last year.”
And so to pastures new as McNally, his wife and their two grown-up children prepare to move to Norfolk and help mastermind City's revival.
“I'm seriously excited, looking forward to the challenge and really looking forward to working with the owners, the directors, colleagues at Norwich City Football Club, but most importantly the supporters,” said McNally, as he faced the Press for the first time – and duly proved a comfortable operator with either a microphone or a TV camera close at hand.
“We have a challenge ahead – and it's my job to help as much as I can.”
The attraction was, he said, very simple.
“The supporters – the size of the fanatical fan base,” said the one-time L'Oreal and Max Factor exec.
“They are an absolute credit to the club and to themselves. And, to be frank about that, that suggests a lot of potential too – both for the football club and the business of the football club.”
He was clearly already well-versed in what his biggest challenge was after succeeding the departed duo of club chairman Roger Munby and his immediate predecessor in that chief executive role, Neil Doncaster – to re-unite an angry and frustrated fan base now faced with the delights of League One football after all-too many years of underachievement.
“My biggest challenge? To ensure that we're all pulling in the right direction and the same direction – and to improve our league status,” he said. “I don't hink I was born the last time that this club played in the third tier of English football.
“And whilst it will be difficult to secure as many points as we need to to secure promotion, that has to be the aim.”
His in-tray will, you suspect, already be next to over-flowing – making the sums add up in League One will prove another formidable challenge.
“It's bound to be difficult,” admitted the one-time sales and marketing chief at Celtic. “We're playing in a league that's peculiar to us in many respects and so the budgets will need to reflect the League One status that we're in.
“So what we have to do is make sure that we're smart with how we spend the money – whether that's players coming in, players leaving the club. Or, indeed, the salaries that apply. We just need to work smart in that respect.
“It won't be easy – we'd all like more. But we are where we are.”
Another early priority was stability – for staff on and on the pitch to have a sure and certain knowledge of where everyone was head. The threat of redundancy will still hang heavy around the ground whilst the in-coming chief executive gets to grip with just how much cloth he has to cut.
“I think stability is what we need,” he said. “It's always unsettling for colleagues within any business when there are a lot of comings and goings. But I have to say it's not unusual – especially when you have such a big disappointment in a football club.”
Earlier Delia and her husband Michael Wynn Jones revealed that they had sought out the advice of both Martin O'Neill and Roy Hodgson about McNally's credentials for the top post. He, too, had done his homework. But wasn't about to name names.
“When you make big decisions in life, you rely a lot on the advice of family and friends – and I've done that. But it would be wrong for me to mention names, but I have to say that anybody that I've asked about Norwich City Football Club have said: 'Go there! Take the job – whole-heartedly…'