Neil Adams was tonight given the job of getting Norwich City back into the Premier League – and he vowed to do it with attacking football.
His appointment met with a mixed response from the club’s fans on social media.
He will have to work with a new “football committee” and he is likely to be given the support of a senior football figure to make up for his obvious lack of experience.
But he is admirably bullish. He said: “The priority is to ensure that attacking, attractive and winning football is once again the norm for supporters of this club.”
As anyone visiting this website must know, the 48-year-old former youth team coach stepped up as caretaker manager for the last five games of the season after Norwich sacked Chris Hughton.
Adams only earned one point from those games but the club hierarchy was impressed with the way he tackled a formidable run of fixtures – and also how he dealt with two undisclosed disciplinary issues within the squad.
Tonight he was handed a three-year contract after a week in which talks with former Cardiff manager Malky Mackay stalled.
Neil Lennon, who resigned as Celtic manager earlier in the day, had been linked with Norwich since watching them in the FA Cup match at Fulham last season but was not a serious contender at any stage.
Gianfranco Zola, who declared his interest in the job earlier this week, was considered but discounted. He was sacked by both West Ham and Watford.
As is always the case, others had their agents sound Norwich out, but it became a two-horse race between Mackay and Adams. Norwich thought Mackay was stalling to see what other vacancies might become available and, after the criticisms of Hughton, Mackay’s reputation for pragmatic football was a worry. Meanwhile, Adams’ position was strengthening.
He had interviewed well, stressing his ardent desire for the job. Then Chief executive David McNally spoke privately to several players. They reported that the training sessions put on by Adams and acting coach Mark Robson had been first rate.
And Adams had one more ace in his hand: his faith in the kids. They are, after all, his kids.
As Norwich’s youth coach Adams won the FA Youth Cup last year, masterminding a magnificent, stirring victory over Chelsea in the two-legged final. And in his brief spell in charge of the senior team, he brought on Josh Murphy as substitute in two games and, in the final match of the season, against Arsenal, he gave a 28-minute debut as substitute to striker Jama Lozar.
With “Super Chrissy” Martin about to play in the promotion play-off final after a productive season with Derby, Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones share the desire of many of us who care about the great club in the Fine City. They want to see lads from our academy given the chance to play for our first team.
On Monday of this week, when Delia, Wynn Jones and McNally made their unprecedented appearance on a live Radio Norfolk phone-in, Delia voiced that desire to see youngsters given opportunities – and in the next few days the board united behind Adams, although they understood that there would be message board moans about “lack of ambition” and “cheap option”.
They were the complaints when Ken Brown, Dave Stringer, Mike Walker and Nigel Worthington were appointed from within. They proved successful managers. But – to show an even-handed approach for which I am not renowned on this site – Bryan Hamilton and Bryan Gunn were not great successes after they stepped up from lesser positions.
For Adams, like everyone, the proof will be in the matches. I’d say he has to win enough for Norwich to be among the promotion contenders at Christmas to have a real prospect of seeing out that three-year contract.
And the key to winning matches will be the next 15 or so weeks. Who will leave Norwich in the summer transfer window, and who will be recruited?
The club’s statement tonight about Adams’ appointment promised “robust backing in this summer’s transfer window.” And McNally reiterated that, “Neil will be given funds to refresh and strengthen the squad.”
So expect changes.
In their remarkably candid Radio Norfolk appearance, the club’s majority share-holders and day-to-day supremo also revealed the plan to set up a “football committee”, comprising McNally, the manager and two more new appointments: a director of recruitment and a technical director.
The radio broadcast made it clear that the Norwich board believe last summer’s signings were the fundamental reason the season was such a crushing disaster.
Ewan Chester, the head of recruitment who identified Ricky van Wolfswinkel as a potential Premier League star, cannot have enjoyed hearing that.
Adams’ appointment is just the start of an intriguing summer.
Dick van Dogsdick says
Congratulations to Neil! I for one am excited by this appointment. I think he will inject some badly needed passion and attacking flair back into the team. I hope his enthusiasm will rub off on the squad, and that the Carrow Road crowd will match that enthusiasm come August.
Congratulations also to all those web commentators who used the word “predictable” as an immediate reaction, because they surely must have cleaned out the bookies, who were offering 25/1 on Adams, if they saw this one coming.
Also, a special message to those who said they are now going to “wash their hands” of NCFC, or refuse to renew their season ticket, after the club showed this “lack of ambition”: Bye bye, have a nice life.
“mixed”? that is being very kind, barely anybody is enamoured with the decision. In fact there is a lot of anger.
James Kerrison says
Mick, do you think that the wrong players were bought last summer or do you think they were in most part the right players but we had the wrong manager to get the best out of them? If the latter surely we should be trying to keep them?
Absolute joke of an appointment , the Smiths need to get out of this club asap they are turning us into a laughing stock .
Interesting. I can understand the question marks but really, who was available that was any more proven? Lennon? No. Mackay? If you count getting promoted at the second attempt by throwing stacks of cash at a squad that imploded less than 12 months on…
Some advantages for having Adams:
Proven coaching ability
Positive attitude to playing style
Already knows which players should clear out
It’s a half decent start. Let’s hope he can handle the pressure.
OK…lets look at the contenders:
Lennon – Desperate to get out of Celtic
McKay – As negative as Hughton
Zola – Failed in his last two positions and sacked
Adams – How does a new arrival on the scene get the chance to prove himself? Every one of the current EPL managers had to get a job somewhere.
Read the article that talks about his ability to handle a couple of internal problems that arose plus his apparently “great” training sessions and add the promise of attacking mentality…and who knows…maybe we got a good one.
The time is coming for the Smiths to leave the boardroom, they are holding this club back. Also if Hughton was the best man in December was Adams not considered better than him? If not, why is he now?
It’s been 95% negative on messageboards and this is not going to unite the fans to the club! it’s a decision that conforms the board expect us to be in the championship for a long long while.
55years supporting and this is the culmination of the most disappointing series of decisions made by the board for a very long time. Prove me wrong!
Chants of Adams out and sack the Board within 3 games and its nomore than they deserve for this ludicrous appointment of the Radio man .Joke decision joke owner joke manager and joke club .
Andy W says
I was a bit surprised that a more experienced manager wasn’t appointed. Let’s hope he makes a fast start or the crowd are going to get on his back. This has elements of the Bryan Gunn fiasco written all over it, and if we are not careful we could be looking for a new manager again quite soon.
This decision comes as no surprise. The Board had already decided Neil Adams would be part of the 1st team set up and the football management would work to the new football committee. Asking an incoming manager to work within this criteria was a step too far. The Board were left with only one option.
McNally has repeatedly argued that the close season is the best time to change managers as there is more choice. This is despite the fact that this Boards best ever appointment was made one week into a season when there was little choice at all! And they have now ignored this wider choice and gone for total, and acknowledged, inexperience to manage a club at this level at a time team rebuilding is required. I cannot recall any recent examples in football of such a step at such a time being successful. Yes we have had successful in house appointments but, with the possible exception of Ken Brown which was in a different era, none faced the rebuilding following relegation which is now required.
The appointment of an experienced manager would have brought risks (e.g. Wigan) but with this step the risks are even greater. Yes there are plans for support to be provided but it will take time to put such plans into place and I am not sure that time will be available. I hope I am wrong but I am afraid all this decision will do is to leave the Board with even bigger decisions to make in the months ahead. In the meantime they have left supporters, already coming to terms with relegation, facing the disappointment of this decision. And left me believing that McNally’s best days at NCFC maybe behind us!
The main problem has again been expectation. The longer this all dragged on the less likely it seemed that Adams would get the job, so it was a big surprise.
The decision has been made and as, any appointment is a matter of opinion and risk ,true supporters should back the board and the manager. Getting out of the championship will be really difficult so supporters must play their part or shall we all throw our toys out and bicker instead?
Thinking back to when Lambert left and Houghton was appointed I was delighted. I thought the board had acted swiftly and decisively bringing in a strong manager with proven experience. Even last December I was very much in two minds whether he should stay or go, I understand the dilemma at that time.
So now I look at this and feel somewhat underwhelmed but remind myself that so often in football we curse ourselves for not choosing that manager or that player when they were available and begging for a chance. Neil Adams now has his chance and I for one will get right behind him hoping that he becomes one of those others look at and say ‘why didn’t we get someone like him?’
As others have also pointed out, from the apparent choices available all had large question marks against their names. We’ll know, probably by Christmas if this has worked or not.
So On The Ball City and never mind the danger, that’s what we want let’s just hope we’ve got it!
Morris C. says
Anyone who says they are angry by the decision needs to get professional help. I’m disappointed by it but of course hope Neil can make a success of it for the club and himself. It just feels like we went shopping in the football market and came home with a cheap, own-label product. Not the statement of positive intent to other teams we’re coming up against next season.
I also think he’s been cut a lot of flack from those 5 games as difficult as they were. Fulham defeat was pivotal, 2nd half at Old Trafford was miserable and his favouring of Elmander as lone striker in the last couple of games was desperate.
He and the team will come up against managers and teams battle-hardened in the Championship. I hope he/they can cut the Colman’s yellow stuff.
Michael D says
Personally I am amazed at the extent of the negative reaction, and even more at the comparison with people like Bryan Gunn. Gunn was in a PR role at the club and had no coaching pedigree, Neil Adams is clearly a highly qualified and proficient coach. What he lacks is the management experience, and for that reason the Board were obviously looking at bringing in someone like Malky who did – only problem is Mackay was not overly enthusiastic and looking for ‘better’ offers.
Right, so you are a selection committee, you have a candidate who doesn’t tick the experience box, but ticks everything else – and moreover is clearly passionate about the job and WANTS the role. He has also already demonstrated his ability to a) bring through youth, b) address the turgid playing style, c) deal with man management issues.
I know who I would select, every time. And before he is written off with such swift condemnation, I suggest that we have to see who is appointed technical director, what happens in the transfer market this summer, how Adams makes his mark with the squad, how the team plays during pre-season, and finally how the first 10 games of next season go. At that point, think we’ll all be in a better position to make judgements. And since I think he is neither naive nor inept (Gunny was both of these), I am expecting some pleasant surprises.
Paul Francis says
I can’t believe all the negativity. Yes this is somewhat of an unknown quantity. However many of the Managers mentioned may have experience but are out of work. Out of work managers are usually out of work for a reason. We have tried experienced out of work managers before all have failed, Bruce Rioch and Glen Roader most recently.
Our Successful managers have either been taken from other clubs (Ron Saunders, John Bond., Paul Lambert) or been appointed from within the club (Ken Brown, Dave Stringer, Mike Walker) 2 of these were promoted from youth team coach.
McNally had said that presently employed managers were on their list, but presumably none wanted to move. Therefore the board would have been left with a choice of a manager recently sacked or an appointment from within.
When Mike Walker was appointed there was much displeasure from the fans (I think I remember a certain Brian Robson being paraded around the ground). After Mike Walkers appointment I remember the then Chairman saying they had seen him working with the players, were impressed and thus the decision was not difficult.
The board have seen Adams working with the players, they are obviously impressed. They have also previously expressed how tactically good Adams is. From their point of view this seems the best move.
Good luck to Neil, let’s all get behind the team and look forward to next season.
As Sir Humphrey might have said to Jim Hacker
” It was certainly a ´courageous´ decision”,
And if this year turns out to be blacker
Than last, it may cause some derision.
Dave Backham says
Neil has Norwich City at heart, from player, to coach, to Canary Call, to manager. He wants to do the very best for Norwich – no doubt about that. He will bleed Yellow & Green.
But is he capable? Only time will tell. However the omens are good. We should back him and give him a chance.
Many media pundits have complained at the lack of opportunities for British managers – our club is giving one a chance. Do we support that or not? I do.
It may seem disappointing that we are ‘little old Norwich’ but that is how it really is. Get over it, deal with it and move on.
That should make us fight all the more harder to prove people wrong.
The delay in appointment must have been because no-one else wanted it – no one else saw it as anything other than just another managerial job, especially AFTER we were relegated and so many PL jobs are still up for grabs, Tottenham, WBA possibly Southampton, Sunderland? Villa? Clearly no-one of any standing really wants to come to Norwich to build a dynasty. Neil’s here and has already started that. So let’s build on that.
Look at past 9 years’ FA youth cup winners, Chelsea (x3), Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool (x2), Man City and Norwich. Now rate that achievement.
Did he pick up a demoralised squad of negative-football brainwashed no-hopers at the end of the season – Yes he did. Liverpool game was a revelation in 2nd half. We just need more demonstrations of that nature from the players. The more we play for wins the more wins we’re likely to achieve. I like Neil’s attack-minded credentials.
With the board saying we need to cut our budget by £50m a year he’s going to have to pick the youngsters and bring them through. He knows what they can do – they will get their chances.
Expect to see an overhaul of the playing staff this summer and the club building for the future with a much lower level of expenditure. Money will be the deciding factor. It has to be.
So we may not bounce back straight away, much as we want to. Our budget is such a limiting factor. We can’t afford any better. Relegation also made this position worse. We may be debt-free – but in the last year we’ve become ability-free as well. That’s got to change if we are to get out of this league.
Expect Ruddy, Snodgrass, Olsson, Redmond and Fer to move on if an opportunity comes along. They’ll all want to play in the PL so they will jump if the chance comes. Especially if we pay relatively low wages and they’ve all had a pay cut following relegation. Any and every move will be tempting despite their expressions of loyalty – money will talk. Can the board keep them at Norwich?
Mike Reynolds says
In response to Joe and Phill, who would they chose to take over the Club from Ms Smith and Mr Wynn-Jones? There must be a number of investors ready to invest a mortgaged amount (ref. Marcus Evans) and potentially asset strip a debt free football club if it fails to produce endless PL income.
Sometimes stability is as important as success.
I am happy with Neils appointment! There are so many negative comments on here I have to wonder how many are “fans” of other clubs. If city fans are writing all this drivel then a reality check is called for. The whingers had a heyday moaning about hughtons negativity, now the prospect of entertainment sets them off. My suggestion is try a little patience and adopt a glass is half FULL mindset.
Andrew hall says
Neil Adams initials says all No Ambition . Time to go Delia , you’ve got your money back now go.
Dorset Canary says
To be honest I was a little underwhelmed by the appointment of Neil Adams but at the same time I was not particularly enamoured with the other names supposedly being considered. However your article has given me a bit more background information that enables me to be a little more optimistic for a promising future for our club. I know it has been said many times before that the appointment of a new manager is always somewhat of a gamble but I think the gamble taken here is the best that could be taken at this time. Good luck Neil.
Dave B says
Regardless of whether Adams is the right candidate or not, I’m very confused as to how we’ve arrived where we are.
In January ‘no one was available’. This seemed a stretch to me, since plenty of managers are poached during the season (see Lambert). So with all of English and foreign leagues there wasn’t a single manager we wanted?
Then we sack our manager and put forward the youth team coach with just five games left. He had a hard task ahead of him and he did an admirable job. Liverpool and Chelsea were two of our best performances all season. So I wouldn’t hold those five results against him.
But he’s still only got five games first team experience. No signing experience. No championship experience. No wins. Few goals.
I like the guy and hope he does well. He must have communicated a very clear vision and been EXTREMELY convincing about it, otherwise there is something amiss in the board room.
I’m not sure what happened to the sly ‘we’ll tell you about our signings when they’re done’ McNally from last year to the self-imposed-and-missed deadline-of-hiring-a-manager McNally we see now.
Keith B says
One thing about this appointment is that the Board know their man inside out. They haven’t just met him for a few days, held a couple of interviews (however thorough). They have seen him at first hand for several years.
What seems to come across is his coaching abilities and his capability of dealing with players. There’s certainly nothing easy about engaging a bunch of teenage lads and persuading them to knuckle down, focus, behave and achieve their potential.
He must have a tough side too because the club allowed Ben Wyatt, who from the fans’ viewpoint appeared to be one of the stars of the Youth Cup win, to move on. Adams must surely have been consulted about that and judged that the lad won’t make it at the level we intend to be at 12 months hence.
He promises a more attacking approach, which is a big positive. To be fair it is a little easier to promise that when you are in the Championship. As Redmond showed a few nights ago it is a lot easier to play an all-out attacking role when there’s no Sterling or Suarez ready to pounce in a flash if the ball goes astray. So it’s quite likely that most candidates would be able to make that promise at this stage.
Let’s be honest, most of us are disappointed that there’s nobody out there at the moment making their way up the leagues and ready to take charge of a top Championship club as the next stage of their development. Rosler might have been one, but he’d already moved. Gary Bower seems to be improving Blackburn rapidly, but he’s not someone we’d even be allowed to speak to.
That being the case I can understand why the Board have taken the decision they have. Everyone knows managerial appointments are incredibly difficult to get right, and just because you have once doesn’t mean you will again.
I always remember Bruce Rioch coming along – good record, managed at a very high level, bound to be a success. Mike Walker on the other hand – who? Are they mad?
In the circumstances I’m not unhappy at the appointment. Given that many fans demand managers and players who are passionate about the club – and Adams is clearly that – I’m disappointed at the reaction from the keyboard warriors.
It will be intriguing to see how things pan out with the squad over the summer. Roll on pre-season ready for another tilt at actually winning something.
Enjoy your holidays whilst we are waiting impatiently!
People, who say get the Smiths out are being ridiculous. 1 They saved the club and pumped money into it. 2 They own the majority of shares. They will be there until they sell those shares and there’s nothing anyone can do about that – nothing, unless they make them an offer they can’t refuse.
I am in some ways underwhelmed by Adams appointment and do wonder if the board’s grip on things has slipped, particularly after the announcement that they would appoint last week and then they didn’t (better no announcement at all). It looks as though they wanted Malky, but Malky is playing the field and waiting for a better offer. So now is the time to give the board the benefit of the doubt and get behind NA and the team for next season.
It is worth remembering too that we will be playing for one of 6 places and that even a mid-table position at Xmas can turn into a top 2 place with a good run. So it should at least be a far more exciting season than the last two. I do get the feeling that Adams will be on a hiding to nothing with some fans, who were disappointed by his appointment, but I’d urge them to get behind him and the team and not create a poisoned atmosphere, which they did with Hughton, carping at every little thing, perhaps helping to make his failure become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Good luck Neil Adams, you weren’t my first choice but I was greatly relieved when you agreed to step in for the last five games. You have shown an honesty, commitment, passion for the club and self belief necessary to succeed and I wish you every success and happiness in the job.
The last time I was this disappointed about a manegerial appointment was the first time we appointed Mike Walker. Youth team coach indeed….it will never work!
Dick van Dogsdick says
I’m glad to read some voices of sanity here. The way some have reacted its as if (a) its IMPOSSIBLE for Adams to be successful, (b) there was a manager available who would have GUARANTEED promotion next season, and (c) the board are motivated by something other than the success of the senior football team.
I believe none of those statements are remotely true. And what’s with this moaning about how long it took? Nine working days after the season’s end. Isn’t that a reasonable period to go through a thorough process and make the biggest decision a board ever has to make? One which may affect the club for decades to come.
My theory is that the ‘keyboard warriors’ don’t truly reflect the attitude of the fans as a whole. Those motivated by negativity and anger are far more likely to take to social media than those who are content, cautiously optimistic, or have a ‘lets wait and see’ attitude, hence a distortion. I hope a fantastic atmosphere at Carrow Road at the start of next season will prove me right.
I can’t wait! Just need to get that little World Cup thing out of the way first.
23) Dave B – you should name some potential (realistic and worthy) candidates to add weight to your argument because at the moment it’s a bit hollow. There hasn’t been an obvious candidate to take over all season. Am happy to be persuaded otherwise, though.
28) Dick – spot on – if the fans paying money each week had wanted Hughton to go at xmas, they would have made it known loud and clear. They didn’t. When they truly did, he was fired.
steve marks says
Pundits have expressed their surprise and distaste at the way club owners and directors have dismissed managers and their staff without giving them time to turn things around or impart their philosophy for football on a club.
Now it appears even NCFC supporters have adopted the same attitude.
The ridiculous attitude toward the board and Neil Adams signifies to me that many of our supporters don’t really know what they want, they just know they want it.
Good Luck Neil and co and the sane amongst us look forward to an entertaining season ahead where promotion is not the only imperative.
Dave B says
@23) Potential and realistic?
I’m not sure what makes someone ‘potential and realistic’. If you had asked me a few seasons back if I’d have gone for Lambert I’d have said no. I wouldn’t have said Hughton either. Both were under contract. Lambert I knew zero about, Hughton I knew had been moderately successful with Newcastle, but since going to Birmingham had dropped off my radar.
My point is I wouldn’t have picked either, but the powers at NCFC spotted both and deemed them worthy, despite neither being available. Which seemed to be a prerequisite for Delia.
So how can such a club that has always talked about having contingency plans and shortlists suddenly find the best person available across Europe is the Youth Team manager. Who was available at Christmas and wasn’t considered an option, was only thrust into the position when Hughton’s had lost Carrow Road, and didn’t win a game. But now, despite being the closed season, with more people available than ever and more to easily poach, he has suddenly been transformed into the best person for the job.
He may well be, but I think the board have been in denial about the true state of our club all season and are now clutching for some excuses that don’t ring true. Which is why there has been fan backlash. Not at Neil, but at the board.
I’m far more concerned about the state of the board after the last two weeks.
Jon H says
Mick I expected more from top journo like yourself.
Mixed reception !? What part of east Anglia have you been in forthe last 48 hours? People range from underwhelmed to
The comparison the Walker and Worthington appts is not only tired, it is inaccurate. Both had first team managerial experience at Colchester and Blackpool respectively.
This appointment is so Similar to the Bryan Gunn debacle in 2009 it is scary! If your insight is to be believed, then our board have had an absolute shocker in deciding to turn down a Malky.
He could not be more qualified to take on a promotion charge out of the championship.
I would now take 21st position due to this truely awful appointment.