City chief executive David McNally today sought to knock two nails firmly on the head – that Paul Lambert's arrival was an old pal's act and that Bryan Gunn's exit was down to just one bad performance.
Lambert's record at Wycombe Wanderers and most recently Colchester United spoke for itself; the fact thart he was Bhoys skipper when McNally was Celtic's commercial director was little more than a happy coincidence.
As for the luckless Gunn, his abrupt departure from centre stage was seven months in the making, not seven goals. That Us debacle merely steeled the Board's resolve for the task ahead.
“I know we've touched upon the criteria for the job over the last few days,” said McNally, speaking at this morning's official unveiling of Norwich's ninth full-time manager in 11 roller-coaster years.
“But the first thing to say is that this is no old pals act. We identified Paul as the best man for the job based on the criteria that we agreed was important in the recruitment process.
“And that's all about ability. Is he the right man to lead us on the pitch? To help us win more football matches? Yes he is, in our view.
“Does he have the experience and the track record? Well, have a look at his cv as a player. But, more importantly for us, as a manager. And we also need somebody with the energy, the drive, the commitment and the hunger and we believe that Paul fits the bill in every aspect.
“And most importantly for me, he also has that winning mentality. And as I said on Saturday, hopefully we'll find someone who is a bad loser – and Paul's a bad loser.”
As much as McNally might deny that their previous experience of working together at Celtic Park shaped today's appointment, it will have played a part.
For having ditched such a figure as Gunn in a pretty unceremonious manner last Friday afternoon, the reality was that the new-look board and McNally, in particular, has an awful lot riding on this appointment; to suggest that it would make or break his own tenure as Norwich City chief executive might be over-stating it, but he needs this appointment to work for him politically – just as much as he wants it to work for the club's long-suffering supporters.
Hence the fact that he knows, exactly, what makes Lambert tick as a man and as a personality from their spell at Celtic Park together – one as club captain and Scottish player of the Year; the other selling replica shirts and corporate hospitality boxes on the back of it – all helped ensure that 'due diligence' was kept to a minimum.
He could – in his eyes – afford to head-hunt his 'No1 target'. Because he knew what he was getting. McNally had seen how he worked and the results he was capable of as Wycombe dumped his next empolyers Fulham out of the Carling Cup en route to that semi-final showdown with Premiership giants Chelsea.
Colchester United appear equally well aware of what they are losing; this afternoon in their own Press conference the Us revealed that the compensation package between the two clubs was still a “six-figure sum” apart valuation-wise. McNally still has a little work to do smoothing some feathers down the A12 after Lambert and his two immediate side-kicks resigned en masse last night.
As for the nature of Gunn's exit, McNally was keen to build bridges; to try and keep the Canary goalkeeping legend 'within the family'. The suspicion remains that the wounds remain too raw and too recent for Gunn to forgive or forget the abrupt manner of his dismissal.
Time may need to be the healer there. A lot of time.
As for that 7-1 game, McNally insisted that it wasn't all down to 90 minutes of football. However nightmarish both result and performace were.
“It wasn't about one game in isolation,” said the new Canary chief executive. “It was a bad day at the office for us.
“It was not a freak result; it was a very poor performance; one that we all struggled to get over. But it was one game. And we've taken the decision to change the manager based on seven months, not one game.”
The door, he suggested, was always open – that was something that the club's owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones were keen to stress.
“Bryan will always be welcome here,” said McNally, fielding today's announcement on his own.
“And that's something that the club's owners are keen to ensure – that everybody knows that. It's his football club as much as it is anybody else's. And so everybody has sympathy with Bryan.”
The way City's season thus far has panned out has – by anyone's standards – been extraordinary. For McNally, however, that was just the nature of the beast; that the so-called 'Beautiful Game' can just as easily turn brutal.
“That's football, isn't it? Nothing surprises anybody in football,” he added, even if Gunn's exit took even the most seasoned observers by surprise.
“All I would say to the supporters who are quite right sympathetic to Bryan – because Bryan is a legend at the football club – is that we've made the decision in the best interests of the football club.
“It would have been easier for me to sit back and say: 'Let's just hold tight and not take action…' But I think in the long run, the club would have been in a worse position. And so I believe it was my duty in my role at the football club to discuss with the Board the best way to progress the club.”