David McNally’s appearance yesterday on BBC Radio Norfolk should have confirmed to the doubters that the club is indeed in safe hands.
City’s chief executive, with Delia and Michael riding ‘shotgun’, admitted that mistakes have been made and declared himself ’embarrassed’ at the club’s demotion to the second tier. The pain felt by all three was almost tangible.
McNally may be just an employee – one who has only been a yellow for four season – but it’s clear he ‘gets’ us. He spoke of the new manager needing to comprehend ‘the Norwich way’ and clearly understands what it is that makes the club and the fans tick.
Delia and Michael are supporters first and foremost and without question felt the same crippling pain that befell us all in the final few days of the season. That they have the ability to influence what happens but were unable to use that influence to good effect must have magnified that pain ten-fold.
Their admission that they considered making a managerial change in January was telling. Delia’s suggestion that ‘there was no-one out there’ seems reasonable enough – and there is little doubt the logistics of bringing in a new man mid-season are fraught with difficulty – but one wonders how far beneath the surface they scratched.
In fairness, at the time – despite the dour fare on offer – City looked well placed to avoid the drop, and it would have taken a giant leap of faith on the board’s part to bring in a new face. But, with the benefit of hindsight of course…
Clearly discussions around Chris Hughton’s future did figure heavily in January’s board meetings and Michael confirmed they concluded that even if City had avoided relegation a change would still have been necessary this summer.
They clearly understand ‘the Norwich City way’ far better than I had given them credit for. In fact, it appears my own faith in Hughton outlasted that of the board, and confirms to those who tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about that they’re probably right!
But all the retrospective naval gazing in the world is not going to change where we are and who we will be locking horns with next season.
While the BBC and Metro websites still recognise City as a Premier League club it won’t be long before we’re lumped in with the likes of Leeds, Wolves and Ipswich and find ourselves with a 3 in 22 chance of making it to the Premier League for the season 2015/16.
It seems a long way off right now.
But still there is plenty to look forward to and I, for one, was buoyed by listening to the three board members yesterday morning.
To be tackling the rigours of the Championship with a balance sheet that shows a zero level of external debt is not to be sneezed at and three years worth of parachute payments should at least soften the financial blow a little.
As things stand we remain an attractive prospect for any player who fancies a serious tilt at the Premier League and we need to make hay while we remain in that position. If one year down the line we still have ‘Championship’ next to our name we will find ourselves subsumed in the general melee of clubs fighting to exit the second tier.
We currently have an advantage over nineteen others. We need to make it tell.
To do that the managerial position clearly needs to be sorted as soon as, and – despite McNally playing an understandable straight bat to any suggestion of names – I suspect the board are very close to getting a deal signed.
Charlie Wyett’s exclusive in the Sun on Sunday tellingly included the phrase ‘hoping to appoint’ when talking of Malky Mackay. Assuming they remain committed to appointing Malky one can only assume the West Brom connection may well be the thing that is making the process so ‘complex’ (Delia’s word, not mine).
Certainly rumours of the Scotsman being on the radar of West Ham look to be wide of the mark, with the Hammers’ board this afternoon confirming that Sam Allardyce is going nowhere – albeit subject to an amusing list of caveats.
Interestingly the West Ham statement alludes to Big Sam being asked to set his side out to play ‘the West Ham way’, which by my logic is not dissimilar to the aforementioned Norwich City way. That will be worth watching.
Equally, the City’s board’s insistence that any new manager plays in a style acceptable to the supporters suggests that if indeed Malky is the man he will do so on an understanding that the game is to be played with an attacking intent.
All of which should placate the doubters (like me) who feared the transition from full-back to centre-back in charge would reveal no obvious change in style.
The new manager – whoever he may be – will likely be initially charged with fighting off advances from Premier League clubs who may consider Nathan Redmond worth a shot. His hat-trick for the England Under-21s last night was bound to have registered with a few and provided a timely reminder for those in doubt of what he is capable.
I suspect the new man will also have a decision to make on John Ruddy and Robert Snodgrass – both of whom have earned another crack at the Premier League – although the rumours around Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington being in the sights of Aston Villa should, I suggest, require less in the way of head-scratching.
Both appear intent on exploring pastures new. If those new pastures are in Birmingham, so be it.
So, the wait goes on. No white smoke – but there is no need to panic. We’re in safe hands.