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.