We’ve all had our say on the appointment of Neil Adams.
These views have ranged from positive to fairly indifferent to near outrage; the latter being aided and abetted by accusations that, with his appointment, the club have gone for the cheap and easy option. And yes, whilst it is true that, in the words of one Norwich City suit, it was refreshing to be able to give the job to someone who actually “wanted” it.
Did Adams want it so much that he was willing to submit to the concept of ‘management by committee’ – the one that the club have introduced and are now championing – whereas other candidates may not have been quite so eager?
I believe David McNally when he says that Neil was the first person to have been offered the job.
But maybe that was because the other candidates, as they learnt of the terms and conditions linked with the role, decided to withdraw their interest, leaving Neil as the only credible candidate. The only person, in other words, who was still sat in the room willing to do the job?
We’ll never know and we can all cogitate, ruminate and deliberate the matter throughout the summer. The fact remains the job is Neil’s and all of our hopes and dreams for the 2014/15 season now rest on just how successfully he will be able to apply what he learnt and achieved with the youth team to the first team.
Much like we entrusted the responsibility to another former youth team manager at Carrow Road when he took the step up from that to being in charge of the first team in 1987.
There are historical parallels. Stringer, like Adams, won the FA Youth Cup during his time in charge of the youngsters. We beat Everton over three games to lift that trophy in 1983 just as, three decades later, we beat another blue shirted team, Chelsea, to win it for the second time.
Stringer was an ex-Norwich player. So was Adams.
And Stringer had walked into the top job at Carrow Road not long after the club had been widely criticised for sacking one of the most liked and respected men in the game. Yes, for Chris “lovely man” Hughton, read Ken “lovely man” Brown, Stringers predecessor and as popular and revered a footballing man as you could get in the game at the time – much as Hughton is now.
The 1986/87 season had seen Norwich, under Brown, end that top flight campaign in fifth place; a laudable achievement that was, at that time, the club’s best ever league finish.
Unsurprisingly it had been an impressive season all round for the likeable Brown and his team. The club had earnt it through an uncanny but, none the less, welcome policy of winning games and scoring goals; the Canaries away record being particularly worthy of mention with just six defeats from 21 games on the road being the best in the league that season.
It had also seen a first ever league win at Old Trafford as well as one at Liverpool. The former, earned via a solitary Kevin Drinkell goal, elevated Norwich to fourth on a record of just five defeats on their opening 22 league games.
Yet there’s more.
This remarkable season – one of the best in the club’s history – had come after Brown had masterminded a convincing Division Two title success at the end of the previous campaign, one that saw his exciting side escape the second-tier seven points clear of second placed Charlton. It had seen, to the delight of the Carrow Road support, a run of ten successive league wins at one point, as well as – between October 1985 and February 1986 – another run of 18 games without defeat.
Fifty one goals had been scored at Carrow Road – an average of nearly 2.5 a game and – in Kevin Drinkell, Norwich had a striker who was the envy of not only Division Two but, in time, the top tier as well.
Impressive stuff. Yet there is still more.
In March 1985, Brown had led Norwich to Wembley for their third League Cup final in thirteen years – third time lucky as it stands – with the 1-0 win over Sunderland being the first major success in the club’s history.
But, despite all of that, despite a Wembley win, a runaway title success, goals and wins aplenty, and a highest-ever league placing – one that would have, under Brown, seen Norwich qualify for European football for the second time in three seasons – he was, summarily and unexpectedly, dismissed after a 2-0 defeat at Charlton on 7 November 1987.
A decision which saw the Norwich board roundly and very strongly criticised in both the local and national press.
And which left Brown heartbroken.
Once the dust had settled, there seemed no shortage of possibilities as to who might be the next manager of Norwich City. The club were, after all, in the top flight and had, at the time, a very strong and able first-team squad. Players like Bryan Gunn, Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan, Ian Butterworth and Kevin Drinkell were the backbone of the team that had done so well the previous season.
Rumours linked the likes of Millwall’s George Graham to the job whilst there was also support for former manager John Bond to return to the club; his candidature given extra gloss by the fact that he was, at the time, out of work, having been sacked by Birmingham City.
Yet it was the quiet and respected Stringer who got the nod, his reputation as a fine coach and as a man liked and respected by the players proving to be the deciding factors. It was an appointment which, although questioned at the time, turned out be one of the best/luckiest (delete as applicable) the club has ever made.
Parallels aplenty then.
Club sacks popular and well respected manager despite his having led them to some success including unbeaten league runs and unexpected victories over the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.
Club is roundly criticised for said decision, both locally and nationally.
Club makes in-house appointment to replace sacked manager; an ex-player whose only claim to coaching fame is a win in the FA Youth Cup.
For Ken Brown read Chris Hughton?
For Dave Stringer read Neil Adams?
You would, of course, hope that the appointment of Adams has been done on rather more than the fact a similar appointment worked before and that it might again.
And there will, of course, have been far, far more behind the board’s decision to appoint Adams as manager than the fact that our suits are hoping that in making their choice, lightning is going to strike twice.
But it would be great if it did!