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.
Andrew hall says
You need your rose tinted glasses off. As one pundit said last season ,not only are we debt free , we are ambition free as well.
I agree with Andrew. I often think “if only we were as ambitious as Portsmouth”.
I for one am proud and grateful to support a club like ours, with a board made up primarily of people who seem to genuinely care and therefore have the best interests of the club in mind. Without a major external investor we are unlikely to ever become a regular top 8 premier league club and, to be honest, I’m ok with that. I enjoyed coming 2nd in the Championship just as much as coming 12th in the premiership. Chasing a dream is often more fun than fighting to maintain it!!
David Bowen says
I take it Andrew Hall that you didn’t listen to the three muskateers on Radio Norfolk? Anyone who thinks Norwich lack ambition obviously has a poor grasp of the English language!
Well said Gary, we are indeed in safe hands having learnt from their mistakes, they are ready to take us forward! OTBC IDMcNWT
Dick van Dogsdick says
Looking at the Redmond hat-trick last night I was wondering whether he might just fancy a season against poor defences, just to get his confidence and enjoyment of the game back (what was the Wales number 2 doing for the first goal?! Ran towards him to close him down, then ran away again, allowing him to score near post!)
He had a pretty horrendous season, having started with so much promise, but its clear he has a lot of raw talent, going past well-established internationals with ease. It would be good for his career to stay put a while I think. Maybe playing down the middle till he can learn how to cross.
He’s been frustratingly inconsistent, but I’d like him to stay.
I agree Delia, Michael & McNally came off well yesterday, even if the latter was unnecessarily snippy at the start. Everyone makes mistakes, they deserve a lot of credit in many ways. It appears they were pretty much on the same wavelength as the fans, which is a good thing within reason. They seem to be professional but with a lot of emotional attachment to the club, which is what you want. Bring on the new season!
As someone who works in the murky world of PR , I take my hat off to the club for the performance on Radio Norfolk yesterday. It is a case study in how to turn a potentially negative situation – no manager appointed after the expiry of an arbitrarily self-imposed deadline, relegation after a catastrophic season and a series of poor decisions – into one in which supporters are taking to social media to praise the board’s bravery and articles like this are being written arguing it to be proof ‘the club is indeed in safe hands’.
Sweet Jesus. Nick Clegg must be kicking himself he didn’t hire Joe Ferrari to turn around his public image…
As a supporter, however, forgive me if I don’t see recent events as a source of pride or encouragement. Of course I would prefer the people running my club to front up their failures to the fans rather than skulk away in their luxury retreats. But equally I would prefer them to demonstrate some basic competence when it comes to the decisions about the club’s management. It is clear that the successful decision to jettison Gunn for Lambert was the exception rather than the rule for Delia and Michael. The vast majority of managerial decisions they have made have been failures – often clouded by personal feeling and lacking in judgement.
Despite this, I do still believe – on balance – the current board represents our best hope. But after a season when many of us were derided for pointing out that relegation was a raging certainty unless the manager was replaced, forgive me if the words ‘in McNally we trust’ feel a bit bloody hollow right now.
Gary Gowers says
Matt (5) – Fair enough. Appears I fell hook, line and sinker for the club’s ‘spin’. Call it the naivety of a non-PR professional.
But, in my eyes at least, they *were* attempting to ‘front up’ to their failings of the last couple of seasons – and admitted as much.
I’m not suggesting McNally or the board are perfect – far from it – but at least are folk who care passionately about the club and who make every decision in its best interests. There are plenty of clubs who can’t say that right now.
That’s what I think anyway.
Thanks for taking the time to comment
Gary (6) – I’m not suggesting a successful piece of public relations automatically equates to being purely ‘spin’, or that McNally and the Board didn’t mean what they said. But consider this: the appearance on Radio Norfolk probably wouldn’t have happened if the club had met its deadline of appointing a new manager within a week. If their sole motivation was to openly subject themselves to the questions of supporters, why not do it last week?
The tactic of revealing the intention to appoint within a week seems a bit daft now, but it had a very real short term benefit. It meant in the immediate aftermath of relegation being confirmed, the bloggers and tweeters – or the ‘keyboard warriors’ as this site likes to describe them – were all debating the respective merits of Malky, Lennon et al rather than sifting through the wreckage of our disastrous season.
I do not doubt the board have the best interests of the club at heart. But I’m afraid I have little faith in their ability to take the hard headed decisions necessary to get the right management team in place. I thought McNally did – last season proved that to be false. I hope, more than anything, to be proved wrong. OTBC.
Danny Lineker says
Clearly mistakes have been made all round – board, manager and players. At least Delia & hubby are genuine fans with the club’s best interests at heart and not megalomaniac foreign billionaires with no connection to the city that their investment represents ..see Man.City/Cardiff/Leicester/Leeds etc etc.
McNally has rightly earned big respect from dragging us out of the financial pit which so many find themselves in – even those with foreign billionaire owners who can pull the plug on a whim(see Aston Villa). His copybook has been blotted after last season’s events but is wiser for it I suspect.
I know we got relegated and only scored 28 goals etc. last season, but I do find it sad that Hughton is being airbrushed from our history to the extent he is. He did take us to the second highest finish ever in the PL and famous wins over some of the top 4 clubs – his mistake was to then adopt the Pulis/Stoke model for PL survival e.g. attritional trench warfare. Even the Stoke fans tired of that in the end.
As always, it’s the players who seem to ‘get away with’ it and yet are largely responsible for the mess we got in over the last 2 months of the season
Dick van Dogsdick says
I was quite surprised at how unequivocal Delia was with her condemnation of last season. We did have the occasional good performance, and realistically we weren’t too far off staying up. She had an opportunity to defend Hughton, say what a “nice man” he was, and by extension defend the board’s decision to stick by him, but didn’t take it. Maybe that’s a good thing – she doesn’t have the media training to be polite and sugar-coat everything, avoid controversy at all costs. Its good to hear someone in football speaking from the heart.
And I imagine she attended every away game. I wouldn’t blame her if she wanted to throttle him rather than sack him!
Matt (7), if the board gave any consideration at all to what the keyboard warriors may be “debating”, they’d go down in my estimation quicker than Yaya Toure has lately. I think that is a ridiculous theory.