The dismissal of City’s first-team coach, Mark Robson came a little out of the blue.
As one who has recently trodden the same academy to first-team path as Neil Adams, the termination of his contract – delivered in just 62 words on the club’s official website – has offered few answers but raised questions aplenty.
Typically the conspiracy theories and brickbats are already flooding social media but, for this one, I suspect we all need to sit tight and await further developments.
Explicit in the club’s statement was the continuation of Neil Adams as manager and Gary Holt as first-team coach, and an unequivocal ‘there will be no further comment at this time’. Again, read into that what you will.
What it does suggest is that this particular move will be followed by others.
The removal of Robson from the management team looks, on the surface, to be a reaction to events on the pitch and many are already perceiving him to be the ‘sacrificial lamb’. They may be right, but I suspect – and hope – that the full story is a little less black and white, and has the semblance of a plan.
David McNally, for all his perceived faults, is acutely aware of social media’s thirst for news of this kind and will be keen to not allow this one to fester. There needs at least to be a ‘stage two’, the obvious one being a direct replacement for Robson.
The names of Ian Culverhouse and Mike Phelan have already figured large, both with more than decent CVs and a Norwich City connection to boot. At this stage it’s no more than folk putting two and two together but stranger things… etc
Certainly the former would be an extremely good fit given the role he played in the Lambert era; those ‘in the know’ suggesting that his influence was underestimated – even by the Scot himself. And McNally, being the canny operator, will be well aware of the placating impact of the appointment of a Culverhouse.
The natives are restless. With almost a fortnight to fester over the Forest debacle, before Brighton pitch up, only something with substance will be sufficient to quell the uprising. Minus a change at the top, a return to the fold for Culverhouse may just tick that particular box.
Another theory being put forward is the reversion of Adams to the role of coach, with an older head coming in to take the reins. While it has elements of logic it’s hard to imagine this one being a goer. To suffer the ignominy of demotion in such a public way would be akin to a public execution. Can’t see it.
All of the above, and other theories such as a personality clash between Adams and Robson, will for now remain conjecture. But the timing is such it suggests the dismissal has more to do with the lack of quality on the green stuff rather than any ‘disciplinary’ misdemeanours.
How it ends is, for now, in the hands of the board. And let’s just hope they are not expecting the fans’ unrest to be placated by such a move. Smoke and mirrors don’t wash with the Yellow Army.
Let’s hope this is the first move in several that will see a shake-up of the currently mis-firing coaching set up.
Watch this space.
Dave B says
I hope he isn’t just a scapegoat, but I suspect that’s not the case. He’s never been very good at holding a job more than a year or two. Perhaps he’s just not up to task.
I’d love to see Phelan join NCFC, that would shut me right up, can’t see it happening though.
I’m going with the Adams stepping down to first team coach and an experienced manager coming in. Given the choice you’d think that Neil would prefer that to being unemployed
David Bowen says
Hi Gary, unlike Simon, I can’t see NA being happy with a demotion, I’m more hopeful that it will be a suitable replacement to the original Joe Royle set-up, but for the life of me, I can’t think who that might be! OTBC
Very strange, but I’d be very happy with either Ian Culverhouse or Mike Phelan.
Nigel Worthington as a possible ‘mentor’ role?
Here’s a controversial idea. What about getting someone good?
Its just Robson being made the sacrificial lamb so Adams can carry on , nothing will improve untill we appoint a proper manager its really not that difficult to see .
Ian Medals says
Can’t see Phelan coming in as number 2 – he’s been fishing round for a top job. Do we want an ‘old boy’ or does it need a fresh pair of eyes with no connection to the club?
Whatever McNally says about Neil in the coming few days (if anything), the next 4 games with 3 at home against ‘weaker’ teams in the division are make or break. 8 points minimum and we might be feeling better – less than that and we’re in trouble. Time for the manager and players to step up to the plate.
Penny for Chris Hughton’s thoughts!
Ah, night of the long knives! Don’t like the dismissive, condescending tone of ‘there will be no further comment at this time’. Answer the feckin’ question (we all have)!
Keith B says
Sacrificial lamb? No, definitely not.
That implies Adams has convinced McNally, wrongly, that Robson was the problem when he wasn’t – and McNally has “bought it”. McNally is not that gullible. He wouldn’t just accept that. He would probe, and probe deeper, and then form his own conclusion. As he did with Bryan Gunn some years ago.
We do not know how much time Adams has himself been able to spend hands-on at training. The answer may be “not a lot”. That in itself might explain why he hasn’t achieved what he had expected to.
It would also not surprise me if the likes of Russell Martin, Gary O’Neill and maybe even Carlos Cuellar have had a word in Adams’s ear. They are experienced professionals, they know what should be happening at Colney, they know what gets players playing and what doesn’t.
O’Neill made comments about players needing reminding about their responsibilities and teaching how to make the right “recovery runs” to deal with counter attacks. If Robson hasn’t been doing things like that – and you’d assume that’s the sort of thing that would be his brief – then it’s certainly his head that should be on the block.
Perhaps the problem has been around longer than we think anyway and that Adams really wanted Gary Holt as number 2 all along.
But, as Gary (Gowers, not Holt) says, we can only guess. Mick Dennis will know what’s really going on, he always seems to have inside knowledge. When’s he due to write on here again?
Rick Waghorn says
I’m not sure how far David would have to ‘probe’.
If memory serves – and I may well have missed more musical chairs over the summer – but isn’t the City chief exec also ‘Chairman of the Football Board’?
Whatever that role entails.
jimmy norse says
Wrong man gone should have been adams
jimmy norse says
Any time is two much we will just drop into bottom half
Steve Clarke in to help ??? Damn good coach.
Keith B says
“I’m not sure how far David would have to ‘probe’”
I personally don’t think he would have to probe at all. I think he will be very aware of what is going on.
But others, in describing Robson as the “sacrificial lamb”, are implying that he has wrongly paid the price for recent form when it should be Adams. They presumably think Adams has pulled the wool over McNally’s eyes. They assume McNally isn’t in touch and would, therefore, need to “probe” if that’s what Adams came up with.
Looks like Jimmy Norse, for example, is certain of it.
I have no doubt that if McNally felt Adams was the problem the manager would have been the one to gone today – regardless of the length of his contract. And regardless too of how much it would cost, which in context of getting back to the Premiership (and our relatively buoyant financial position) is not a big factor.
Shall be interested to hear the inside story when it comes out.
Stewart Lewis says
Agree with everything Keith B says. McNally is shrewd, energetic and prepared to act; those who say he’s done nothing other than appoint Lambert, for instance, are sadly ignorant of his continuing drive to professionalise the club at all levels. I worry a little that he blames himself for not replacing Hughton last December – though the case wasn’t as clear as many now portray it – and may be less patient with Adams. But he’s a professional through-and-through.
Ian (8): not so sure you’re right about Phelan. Yes, he was touting himself as a high-level manager – but nobody showed interest. Like Neil Lennon, he may be realising that for now he’d better settle for something more modest. Norwich may appeal, for a number of reasons.
No point in speculating any more about Robson’s departure; most of us simply have no information or insight. Hopefully we’ll hear some more from the club (unless there are legal issues involved) as the new team takes shape.
They wont sack Adams because they will look foolish getting shot so soon after giving him a 4 year contract when just about every man and his dog knew it was the wrong appointment .
They need to be seen to do something so Robson lost his job so Delias boy can carry on a little longer .
Really think Adams is no better than Gunn , he bought Holt in on the cheap whereas Adams has wasted millions on players that to be kind are utter rubbish .
Phil – if that’s you being kind i’d hate to see you have a go!
I really don’t think Adams was ever chosen as a “cheap option” when you consider the outlay on players in recent times.
Whether he was the correct option is another matter.Much has been said about Mc’Nally saying no-one was available last December,but wasn’t that Delia? I still think Mc’Nally was outvoted when it mattered re Hughton last winter.
My thoughts are simple, if Mark Robson was the problem, then he needs to be replaced and quickly. The obvious candidates, as mentioned above, are Culverhouse or Phelan.
McNasty?!?! What a joker!! He appointed Lambert and subsequently Lambert did the double promotions that cleared the debts etc. Also they even tried to shaft lambert out of his bonus LOL shrewed businessman?? I doubt that somehow. 1 lucky appointment and the rest are bizarre to say the least. Thank the lord Lambert was managing col-u that day as if it had of been another team that beat us then f**k knows who we’d of ended up with!!