Blimey… where to start.
First of all, it’s hard to comprehend how City managed to find a way to lose that game at the City Ground. To have been so in control for almost all of the opening forty-five and yet come home with nothing is unforgivable.
To have conceded goals in the manner in which they were is also unforgivable.
But who didn’t see it coming?
It is all becoming just a little too predictable. Having bossed the first half but scored only the one goal it seemed almost inevitable that Nottingham Forest – who were awful – would get a Psycho half-time ‘rocket’ and come out with all guns blazing.
That the equaliser didn’t arrive until the 85th minute was probably the biggest surprise. But once it did there was only going to be one winner.
And let’s not kid ourselves. Forest are not particularly good. Yes, courtesy of a frothing mouth, bulging veins and the odd tea cup they gave it a real go in the second half, but this was a side that had not won in ten. Whose confidence was on the floor. Who were wondering where the next win was coming from.
Middlesborough were decent. Forest were ordinary.
But who do you call when the chips are down and you need to turn around a miserable run of form? A grim run that has seen you lose at home to Brentford and Blackburn and get hammered away at Huddersfield.
Good old Norwich.
We’re a soft touch, no question.
We have a squad full of quality players – at least that’s what we have been telling ourselves – but right now there appears a horrible lack of bottle and tactical nous; a very unhealthy combo.
The players are only too quick to tell us of the togetherness and belief in the group, but it is not manifesting itself on the pitch. Games that City appear to be controlling are just slipping away.
To have whizzed through October and beyond Bonfire Night with just a single win, armed with the ‘best squad in the division’ (I’ll stop using that one now, it’s getting a little embarrassing), is unacceptable.
And which is why message-boards and social media were ablaze with straw polls on the future, or otherwise, of Neil Adams.
First up, his coaching credentials are not in doubt. He’s has overseen the development of a plethora of youngsters and bagged an FA Youth Cup en route. Give him a bunch of impressionable lads to coax, cajole and head on the right footballing path and he’s your man.
But that role is a very different to the one he is being asked to perform right now. A million miles away. He is now dealing with individuals who don’t hang on his every word; who don’t take as gospel every single instruction.
The players respect him – I firmly believe that – and probably like him. Why wouldn’t they? He is a nice, decent bloke. But we have been there before – very recently. And that didn’t end well.
I wrote at the time of Neil’s appointment of my abiding memory of his ill-fated five match spell at the end of last season. It was of him sitting in those large, luxuriant, red leather seats, pitch-side at Old Trafford. He looked small – physically and, far more importantly, metaphorically. His team’s performance that day reflected it.
It’s that same person I now see in the technical area. He looks a little, and it pains me to say it, stranded; in desperate need of a wise old head to turn to. Someone like… Joe Royle.
The assertion, upon Joe’s decision to take up a post at his beloved Everton, that ‘he’s always at the other end of a phone’ is of little assistance when it’s an instant, heat-of-the-battle decision that needs to be made.
In the battle of the technical areas I can think of few occasions this season where City have triumphed. In the game of chess that is Championship football, all too often Team Adams found themselves in check, often checkmate.
Yes, he has shown a flexibility in approach. Yes, he has tinkered. Yes he has picked ‘horses for courses’. But how often has the opposite dugout been out-thought?
But that’s not a broadside aimed solely at Adams. At this level he is a rookie. He’s learning. Mistakes will be made.
The craft of top level football management is one that is honed over the years and is done by finding out what works for you and what doesn’t. Not by doing a crash-course in full view of the watching millions.
I have no reason to doubt that Adams will one day be an excellent top-level football manager. But right now he isn’t. He still has his ‘L’ plates. And I’m not sure Norwich City needs a learner right now – or even one with his ‘P’ plate.
The last few games have being crying out for an ‘old head’ to steer the ship through these choppy waters. Neil is undoubtedly doing his best but we’re zig-zagging all over the place.
I don’t expect David McNally and the board to act. To have offered him a four-year deal smacked of a long-term plan and to tear up said contract six months down the line would come at a cost – in every sense.
But in the same way the appointment in the first place was a gamble, so too would be to now sit tight in the hope that everything will turn out fine.
It’s a big call, a massive one – and let’s not turn into a Leeds or a Watford – but this season represents without question our best chance of returning to the Premier League.
The board have to ask themselves if more of the same will be good enough to achieve that. And I think we know the answer.
Gary Gowers says
For those reading the first iteration of this piece, please accept my apologies for omitting the win against Bolton! Quite how I managed to forget that one is an achievement in itself!
David Bowen says
Hi Gary, I think you’ve pretty much summed it up, we lost yesterday because a tired Jerome was replaced by a “give me a yellow card” Lafferty, it should have been a defensive midfielder or, at least, a proper winger rather than sending Howson out wide,
Something needs to happen and happen fast!
Stewart Lewis says
Gary: perhaps it’s not coincidence that you forgot the win against Bolton. When we get into the mindset of questioning whether the manager’s up to it, our memories become very selective. Without opening old wounds, any reasonable person can see that happened with Hughton. Now it’s happening again. Somehow the wins over Watford, Blackburn, Cardiff and Brentford weren’t really anything to do with Neil Adams, while the recent lapses are all to do with him. I’ve heard criticism of him for the loss to Charlton, which was actually the greatest travesty of a result we’ve seen in years.
Of course there are problems at the moment – we should be higher than mid-table – and the jury is out over Neil Adams. The truth is he’s neither as great as we said in September, nor as bad as some are saying now. He is NOT Bryan Gunn, and his past as a radio presenter remains irrelevant. Neil is realistic enough to know he’s now on trial and under the spotlight. But surely it’s too early to call for the executioner.
Gary. Spot on. Forest lacking confidence and fragile,there for the taking. If we had shown a bit more ambition at 1-0 instead is sitting back to take what we had we could have been looking at a comfortable victory. Paid the price for poor tactics and substitutions! Thought yesterday that I had slipped back in to the Hughton era!
Keith B says
“The craft of top level football management is one that is honed over the years…
I have no reason to doubt that Adams will one day be an excellent top-level football manager”
Honed, fine-tuned, yes that’s true. But if someone has the raw ability to do the job – in reality very few have – it normally shows very quickly.
The concern with Adams is that it isn’t showing at all, which is very disappointing because he is thoroughly committed to the club and to what he’s doing. But so was Bryan Gunn. And Peter Grant, come to that.
I think Adams is a coach and on reflection should have remained one. I admire him for having a go, but it looks as though what he is asking himself to do is beyond him. I honestly don’t think that 2 or 3 years in the job would make a big difference. If the lads won’t listen to him, they won’t listen to him.
It is relatively unusual for somebody who spends a few years coaching after they retire from playing to suddenly become a successful manager. There are one or two of course, but the best guys – Ferguson, Clough, even Martin O’Neill and Paul Lambert, didn’t faff around with coaching – they went straight to management.
My view has always been that for a club like us we should always be looking for an up-and-coming managing who has proved himself on relatively low budgets i.e. over-achieved for the size of club he manages. To me the only person that was around and fitted that bill in the summer was Eddie Howe. Certainly not Neil Lennon.
I never want to see Neil Lennon or Tony Pullis or Billy Davies at our club, or anyone remotely like them. They just don’t fit for us. I don’t buy into the idea that people have to be “nasty” to be successful.
I do wish we had approached Eddie Howe, but timing is everything. Once the season is well under way any club flying high is going to fight tooth and nail to keep the boss in place, probably won’t even give permission to speak to them. Howe is very unlikely to be available, even if we do want to change. At the moment in fact I don’t see any obvious name.
There’s one possibility – if Burnley in their wisdom are so desperate to stay up they decide to jettison Sean Dyche, I’d grab him before anyone else does.
But I can’t see a change happening so I hope Gary is right and Adams does have what it takes and will learn as he goes along. I’m just not convinced.
I never expected us to be much more than about 10th at Christmas anyway and we do need to remember that promotions and play-off places are achieved in the last 20 games, not the first 20.
I thought it was all the boards doing getting us where we were in those 3 illustrious seasons, and Lambert was just the lucky recipient of a forward thinking bunch of top dogs.
Unfortunately, they look like nothing short of cowboys since Lambert left us. Cheap options and poor decisions seem to be par for the course.
Admittedly, the youth developments have set us up for a bright future – but that is no good to us if we can’t get back to the prem (and therefore afford to maintain the cat 1 status the board are so proud of). In fact, it renders the entire concept pointless.
The 4 four year contract is more than worrying…he should have been offered 1 based on his experience and the mission at hand. I genuinely don’t think the board see us here for one season. I believe they see the next four years as a chance for Adam’s to gradually introduce the youth team he knows so well. Playing the youth will set our club mantra for future years by taking a bit of a hit on success in the here and now.
Gary Gowers says
Cheers for your comment as ever Stew (3). Yes, we see what we want to see but was just an error on my part – not symptomatic of an ‘agenda’. I’m not one for knee-jerk reactions (I took brickbats aplenty for my support for Chris Hughton) but was just an opinion based on what’s happening now and mistakes of the past. Nothing more.
I’d love nothing more than Neil Adams and the board to prove me wrong – but based on the evidence, as I see it, there are nine/ten teams equally or more capable of putting together a promotion push.
The original appointment was a gamble, so too to do nothing now. But, as you say, it may yet pay dividends. Only time will tell.
Besides, who would the board select as a replacement after ‘scouring’ the whole of europe? My money would be on Craig Fleming!!
Dave H says
I was bitterly disappointed with the appointment of Neil Adams as at the time I felt there were a number of better alternatives. Not so sure about now. Malky, my personal preference in the summer, now has a big question mark over him (although I do think he will come back as a manager somewhere). Neil Lennon is now taken & doing a good job at Bolton. Tim Sherwood appears to have taken a George Graham approach to job applications and as such may never be seen again. While an excellent manager, I never considered Eddie Howe after the last time he left Bournemouth – I don’t know if his personal circumstances have changed to enable him to try again elsewhere. Tony Pulis is available & will inevitably be linked. I like him, I just can’t see him with us.
The disappointment with the Adams appointment was that we all knew this season was our best chance and we therefore wanted a safe bet. Adams was clearly a punt & one I could have understood 2 or 3 years down the line. I hope the international break gives them all a chance to re-stock and go again as its not too late to turn it around.
Alan Medis says
It’s been a rum ol’ season for sure! Yesterday’s defeat was especially painful in its manner. West Ham and Newcastle have shown that ‘sticking’ can be the best option although in their cases, it was with experienced top flight managers.
Therein lies the ‘problem’ with Neil – it could be too much of a gamble to wait to see if he can play his cards right before taking the ‘twist’ option?
Michael Chipmunk says
We’ll keep him and we’ll finish mid table. We’ll then lose the likes of howson, Redders etc – all too predictable. Boards fault – neil is very much out of his depth.
Jon Dunn says
Best will in the world, what possesses a manager / coach to send two pacy wide men (Jacob and E Benno) out on loan, and then force the two who do remain at the club (Josh and Redmond) to sit and watch yesterday’s travesty unfold from the bench – while watching Jonny Howson, probably our most creative player, totally wasted on the right of a misfiring diamond.
It smacks of cluelessness, total naïvety and not making any attempt to negate and counter what the opposition manager has done.
Poor show – and not for the first time recently.
I posted something similar on twitter yesterday Gary,
Smiffy @richardjsmith62 · 20h 20 hours ago
Your team struggling? Your team gone 10 games and no win? Never fear it’s NCFC up next! ADAMS OUT! #canarycall
I reckon Adams should be given the next two games to turn it around. Lose ’em both and he should be collecting his P45. It’s a shame because ‘our Neyul’ has yellow and green blood coursing through his veins and is a top bloke. You cannot question his desire and passion to succeed, but the fact remains that it is becoming more and more evident that he is just not up to the job. I blame our current situation entirely on the board, successive poor, amateurish decisions have cost our beloved club dear. Delia and MWJ should officially put the club ‘up for sale’ and McNally should walk. A new broom is needed, we need someone who is forward thinking and above all AMBITIOUS who will take this great club of ours forward and back to where I believe we belong, The Premier League. I know there are plenty of other clubs fans who could say the same, but I don’t give a stuff about them, why should we make the same mistakes as Leeds, Forest, Wolves etc. etc.
It was refreshing to hear Darren Eadie on Radio Norfolk yesterday, a well respected ex player telling it like it is and not *rse licking. I agreed entirely with him when he questioned the Board’s statement of last January, when they said that “no-one was available” at the time. Utter balderdash, anyone and everyone is ALWAYS available whether they are in a job or not, money talks. Yes we have to cut our cloth so as to never stare at the financial abyss again, but if there is one position that any club should never compromise when it comes to salary it is the manager’s post. Sometimes you have to pay over the odds to get what you feel is the right man, but through the years NCFC have always gone for the cheap option when they feel they can get away with it.
Thanks for everything Delia and Michael without you we may not still have a club to support. However it is now time for change, just like the current manager you are well out of your depths. Switch the lights off and close the door on your way out and enjoy your retirement.
Oh, and I failed to mention that the board were supposed to have ‘scoured Europe’ looking for Hootun’s replacement. Yeah right
Sharon B says
Totally agree with you Gary. I raised my eyebrows when Adams was appointed with 5 games to save our PL season, and I could not believe it when he got the permanent job. The players look leaderless, the bench clueless. I was one of those unfortunate enough to go to the Boro game and the players genuinely looked lost.
I was one who backed Hughton until the end on the basis he was a decent and experienced manager who could grind out a point or so in the PL, but this is not the same scenario. We are losing points to average to low-ranking Championship sides. Our current form in relegation form. We are massively under performing, and the trend is downwards at a time when we should be getting it together.
Four year deal or not, it is time to act now. A return to the PL, if that is what the board want, means that we need an experienced person in charge. If the board are content to stay in the Champ for the foreseeable future to regroup, then it should stop all talk of promotion as we patently cannot live up to or cope with the weight that expectation brings.
What worries me is despite the search “Europe wide” for a manager in the summer, we end up with the Youth team coach after all. Are we really that unattractive a proposition to all the potential managers out there?
Dave B says
To win promotion out of this league you need three things.
1) A great team
2) A great manager
3) A little bit of luck
At best I’d say we have one of those.
I agree with number 3. It’s WAY too early to question the manager’s position. This is the first time we’ve lost two games in a row. TWO! Villa just lost SIX in a row!
I accept results have fallen way short, and performances have been patchy. The way we gave the ball away late in the game yesterday was criminal. When Forest lost in midweek I wasn’t thinking “Great, they haven’t won for 10 games, easy 3 points”, I was thinking “Oh dear, along come Norwich syndrome could rear it’s ugly head again.” And so it proved.
I didn’t take much out of being top so early on, and I don’t take a lot from being 10th so early on either. We’ll be in the mix. We have 4 winnable games coming up. We can get back on track. Let’s not panic just yet, please!
As for dragging up the “scoured Europe” quote again. Sorry but that’s pathetic.
16 – Dave, I disagree with your claim that a club needs a great team, a great manager, and a bit of luck to get promoted to the Prem. Were QPR a ‘great’ side last season? Is Nigel Pearson a ‘great’ manager?
Anyway, I’m just curious. If you thing we have one of these 3 elements, which one? I don’t think we have any.
He really should go while we have the international break to replace him , absolutely nothing to be gained by keeping him sadly like Gunny he will never make a football manager .
Dave B says
@18) ShinyShoes QPR had a great manager, a good team, and a lot of luck. They also only just got promoted with that mixture and a lot of people consider them undeserved of promotion.
I’d say on a good day we have a great team. On a bad day, not so much.
The cold hard truth is that there are better management/team combos out there and those teams will be promoted. I had thought I’d have more patience with Adams than Hughton. I still do, but my patience with the board is at rock bottom.
The board never made Hughton get some attacking minded people in on the management side and that was his failure. If they don’t force some more experienced people into the management of our club, that will be our downfall this season.
Failure for Hughton and Neil are different. Hughton’s was in your face, ugly, football leading to relegation. Neil’s won’t be like that (if it happens). Failure won’t be relegation. Just a slow retreat back to the quagmire of mid table Championship football. Some might say we’re already there.
Sharon B (15) I agree with every word. I also thought we should have stuck with Hughton for those last five games and made a change in the Summer. I also wrote at the time that appointing NA was an error and it is the same error we made with Gunn and Grant, NO EXPERIENCE!! If I suggested that someone who had shot a couple of home movies should be put in charge of directing a multi million pound movie people would think me mad, yet coaching the youth team to managing the first team is nearly as big a leap. We should always appoint someone who has several successful years managing at football league or at least conference level. If you have a manager who has a proven record (Allerdyce and Pardew for example) you should stick with them for as long as possible, how long should we stick with our manager about whom we know nothing at this level?
Husky Red says
Hello canaries. A reds fan. I come in peace. Facing a very similar situation. Both squads on paper are among the strongest in the division. Both teams expected to be playoffs or above and both started the season there or thereabouts.
For forest the demise began with losing 3 of our best players in a match against rivals Derby and we haven’t quite recovered.
But although you may feel hard done by yesterday (yes it was a smash and grab) up until recently Forest have been among the best in the division at winning from a goal down, and there is no shame in conceding to Antonio and Assombalonga – the top scorer in the division and the top scoring winger.
There were a few questioning our manager in the 10 match run without a win, but to be honest we’ve seen what a succession of managers does to a club and it isn’t pretty.
I hope – and expect – you will snap out of this run just as (I hope) we have (although one swallow doesnt make a summer).
This is an even more unpredictable division than when you last were in it – and realistically there are more than half the teams who have a good claim on a top 6 spot.
What we trickies have been craving – and I hope you have the same – is a manager and a club who have a philosophy that they build into the whole set up – from the academy to the first team. In Pearce I think we have one (we had one in Sean O Driscoll too but our owner was new at things then and very trigger happy. He was sacked at New year after beating Leeds 5-2 because we were 1 point off the top 6!)
Is Adams that person? Well all I’d say is if he isn’t don’t jump ship until you have found your long term replacement. There are plenty of journeymen on the merrygoround but sustainable foundations are not built on short term appointments.
All the best for the rest of the season (provided you dont pip us to a top 6 slot)
Keith B says
Travelling home I’ve just heard the end of Swansea v Arsenal on the radio. Swansea have a rookie manager with barely any more experience than ours. They are 5th in the Premiership tonight. Gary Monk though has not stopped playing very long ago. And he’s gone straight into management, presumably because it suits him suits his “skill set” as management speak would put it.
Now I’m being wise after the even, I know, because this isn’t a view I even considered in the summer. But if Neil Adams really has got what it takes to be a successful manager why has it taken 13 years since he stopped playing before having a go at it?
I’m beginning to suspect it’s not a case of Adams being “out of his depth at this level” as many have said in recent weeks. I suspect that if he were managing a League 2 team he wouldn’t be any more successful. But as a coach, he’s excellent, and that’s what he should be doing.
I hope I’m wrong but if not I really hope there’s a way of letting him down so that we don’t have another Gunn situation whereby someone who has given so much to the club and the city becomes so much of a hate figure that they feel the need to get as far away as possible.
Forest fan in peace.
I think you are being a little unfair to Forest. Until you scored against the run of play, Forest were the better team. After that you should have made sure of the win as Forest’s confidence went through the floor, not surprising after our terrible run of games without a win.
We were top of the league until we lost the whole of our midfield to long-term injuries, but that said we should have coped better than we have.
In the second half we at least showed some fight but you still had the chances to seal the win, but that old saying in football that 1-0 is never enough to guarantee a win came to pass. OK your team were caught out but the Forest breaks were terrific and I can tell you the cheers at the end were mostly in relief than anything else.