The Canary Nation will need to be hard of heart and firm of mind over the next few days as skipper Grant Holt today re-affirmed his intention to follow manager Paul Lambert out of the exit door.
The 31-year-old, three-time Player of the Season first handed in his transfer request last month – the shock of which was then almost forgotten as the Lambert-to-Villa story-line took centre-stage.
With the Scot now on ‘gardening leave’ – caught in the limbo land of the compensation war being fought between his old employers and his prospective new ones – it was Holt’s turn this morning to stir the melting pot and renew his transfer intentions.
This time Twitter was his chosen medium – two ‘tweets’, 280 characters and one hast-tag later and Canary chief executive David McNally and club chairman Alan Bowkett had another big, emotional issue sat in their in-tray.
This afternoon and McNally told SkySportsNews HD that ‘Plan B’ was already under-way as they began to seek Lambert’s replacement.
“We are looking for a new manager, that is likely to be what we concentrate on for the next few days, weeks maybe,” said McNally, confirming that compensation talks with Villa were still on-going. Speaking to Radio Norfolk he also ruled out a move for Celtic’s Neil Lennon; upping the odds on Chris Hughton.
The bookies, meanwhile, had another ‘live’ market on their hands and wasted little time in putting together a Holt and Lambert ‘to bolt’ double together. They also saw the dramatic events of the last 48 hours as reason enough to cut Norwich’s relegation odds for next season.
Time for the Canary Nation to draw the wagons tightly together and stay firm. In McNally and Bowkett they are now going to have to trust.
“I have expressed to the board and the CEO that I want to leave the football club,” Holt told his 56,200 followers on Twitter this morning.
“Due to disagreements,” he added. His last transfer message – relayed via BBC Radio Norfolk and his agent – spoke of a lack of respect in certain quarters. Last night and Holt ‘tweeted’ his insistence that there had been no row with the departing Lambert.
“I have loved my three years at the club and it saddens me to write this, but I want you to hear it from me first,” added Holt this morning. ‘#lovedmytime’ he ended.
Cue the reaction from the bookies as news of a potential double departure did the rounds.
“Holt and Lambert were instrumental in the meteoric rise for Norwich in recent times and their departures could catalyse a downturn in fortunes for the Canaries,” said Hill’s spokesman Joe Crilly this afternoon.
Given ‘the current turmoil’, the bookie added, they were cutting the price of the Canaries being relegated from 7/4 to 13/8.
They also had Birmingham boss Hughton the clear favourite to follow Lambert into the Carrow Road hot-seat; nor did they appear to buy The Sun’s line this morning that Lennon might be tempted south.
As for Holt’s final destination, Sunderland led the chase. No surprise to find Villa in second spot as their new manager seeks a replacement for Emile Heskey, released on a free this summer.
The Birmingham Mail were today reporting that Lambert could be officially unveiled ‘within the next 24 hours’ – at which point the Canary board will, no doubt, re-double their own efforts to have a replacement in through the door at Carrow Road within the next seven days. Ideally.
Whether the next manager will have the charm, the cash or the opportunity to persuade Holt to think again is, of course, another matter. Right now it would appear his heart is likewise set on pastures new.
Next Norwich manager: 5/4 Chris Hughton; 7/4 Malky Mackay; 3/1 Steve Bruce; 6/1 Tim Sherwood; 10/1 Lee Clark; 10/1 Ian Culverhouse; 12/1 Ole Gunnar Solksjaer; 14/1 Gus Poyet; 14/1 Alan Curbishley; 14/1 Gianfranco Zola; 14/1 Ian Holloway; 16/1 BAR.
Grant Holt next club: 13/8 Sunderland; 15/8 Aston Villa; 7/1 West Ham; 12/1 Everton; 16/1 Newcastle; 16/1 Stoke; 16/1 Swansea; 20/1 Tottenham; 20/1 Fulham; 33/1 Liverpool