City’s surgical strike duly delivered this afternoon as Chris Hughton was officially unveiled as the new Norwich City manager.
The 53-year-old former Spurs full-back and coach was always deemed to be the Canaries No1 target to succeed Paul Lambert.
The bookies never budged from making him their odds-on favourite; nor, it seems, did Canary chief executive David McNally as he led Norwich’s single-minded recruitment drive over the last six days.
And as the likes of Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion continue to struggle to fill their own managerial vacancies, so the Canary board picked their man and plucked him out of St Andrew’s with – on the surface – the minimum of fuss and performance.
Formal permission to speak to the Blues chief was sought yesterday and, reluctantly, given – and within 24 hours Hughton was duly unveiled as the new man in charge of the Norfolk club having arrived in Norfolk earlier this morning.
In between time a compensation package, reported in the Midlands to be approaching £2 million, was agreed between the two clubs.
It looks, therefore, as if this appointment went by the numbers; there will be no months of tribunal wrangling that followed Lambert’s hasty exit from Colchester United.
Whether Birmingham’s own, unravelling financial position helped Hughton on his way was another matter. The fact that he wasn’t being released to work at a club just across the city in terms of West Bromwich Albion also probably worked in Norwich’s favour.
A 2.30pm Press Conference might have morphed into a 3.20pm arrival, but there was little doubting the warmth of the reception from McNally as heralded the change of regime.
“We’re delighted to welcome Chris Hughton to Norwich City as the new manager,” said McNally. “We looked at the names and Chris stood out as the No1 candidate.
“He was the only person we spoke to; no-one else was interviewed. He was the right man for this football club.”
Hughton, too, appeared delighted to arrive in Norfolk; the latest in a long-line of White Hart Lane ‘graduates’ to take the footballing philosophy up the A11 – one of whom, Ian Culverhouse, was for now still in place at Colney.
“The job that Paul – and the club – have done over the last three years is magnificent and it is a hard act to follow,” admitted Hughton.
“But it is about making progress; about the club moving forward. That’s not just about the finishing position, but about its status. And I’ve been very impressed with the conversations that I’ve had with David (McNally) and the club about their plans going forward.
“And there’s already a squad here that have fared very well over the last few years and it’s a case of getting to know them and seeing where we need to strengthen.”
One of which, clearly, is Grant Holt. His future remains firmly in the balance, but Hughton was clear in his intention. He wants the skipper to stay.
“There isn’t a manager who would come in and be sitting here and wouldn’t want to keep a player of that quality. But I do need the opportunity to sit down and chat with him.
“He’s still contracted to be here at the club – and absolutely I want him to be here.”
As ever, ‘Team Hughton’ came in tow with his No2 Colin Calderwood, first team coach Paul Trollope and chief scout Ewen Chester also reported to be heading this way.
Calderwood, of course, comes with his own managerial cv – the one-time Swindon and Spurs centre-half having managed at both Nottingham Forest and Hibernian in between three spells working alongside Hughton, most successfully in their time together as St James’ Park.
The Scot also worked with Grant Holt whilst at The City Ground; the City skipper’s future is likely to be one of the more pressing items on the new manager’s agenda.