Mike Phelan then.
Interestingly, it’s an appointment that seems to have gone down well with most Norwich City fans. Phelan has clearly ticked a lot of the boxes that suddenly went unchecked after Joe Royle muttered something about having left the kettle on before legging it back to Merseyside before his tenure at Carrow Road had even begun in the summer.
Phelan, like Royle, is an ex-Norwich player. So he knows, should still know, what we’re all about as a club and what our on-field philosophy is – even if some people, in recent years, have done their best to throw that reputation away forever.
More importantly though he has experience. The sort of experience of places, situations and games where, as a club we want to be – at the top of the tree, or, at the very least, fighting like crazy for the right to try to climb it again.
As a player he didn’t do so badly – a Premier League winners medal with Man Utd in 1993 as well as the same in the FA and League Cups, plus a winners medal in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991.
But it shouldn’t be forgotten that he also won a Second Division title with us in 1986 and, four years prior to that, a Third Division winners medal with Burnley.
As Fergie’s number two at Old Trafford, he played his part in coaching a side that won three Premier League titles, two League Cups and two Champions League finals.
What we wouldn’t give for even one appearance in a League Cup Final anytime soon.
Player or coach, he’s got that winning feeling. It’s infectious and its one he isn’t going to want to let go of anytime soon. And I don’t think he’d have come here if he didn’t think he’d have a chance of doing so at Carrow Road, albeit on a far lesser scale than he might have been previously used to.
As for his past, make no mistake about it – Ferguson doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He wouldn’t let anyone work under and with him so closely if he didn’t rate him, both as a person and a coach. He wasn’t a passenger at Old Trafford and you don’t get to work with players like Giggs, Scholes, Ronaldo and Rooney if you don’t have something about you.
Because if he didn’t he’d have been found out.
Phelan is therefore as rated and capable, in the game and in Fergie’s eyes, as Carlos Quiroz, Steve McClaren – who just happens to be doing rather well at Derby County at the moment – and Brian Kidd, another Man United number two who has now won the Premier League with two separate clubs as a coach.
Esteemed company, so much so that you might not be blamed for thinking that Phelan is taking a downward step in coming to us. A lesser role at a smaller club alongside an inexperienced and under pressure manager, one who might, in fairness, never have expected to have someone like Phelan as part of his team of coaches.
The big question in hand, of course, is whether or not Phelan is taking the job as first-team coach for the long term. Or if, as several have already mooted, he has been put into place as a potential future manager, ready and able the moment that Neil Adams is relieved of his managerial duties, if not his employment at the club.
I’ll leave that possibility for you to decide.
Dave H says
An excellent appointment – I can’t think of anyone better we could have appointed. Hopefully this will buy Adams a little time & we can get ourselves sorted out.
I suspect like many others I am amazed and delighted Phelan has come to us. I find it tricky to imagine a scenario where he is not manager fairly soon. What I do hope though is that Neil Adams is not just let go. I think it’s great to see people like him at the club who genuinely care for it. It was desperately sad to see what happened to Bryan Gunn (even if he was totally out of his depth). Perhaps Adams could return to running the youth set up, eased out of the managers chair with dignity and no hard feelings- if this is even possible?
Either way it’s another sign of huge intent by the club to get back to the premier league as swiftly as possible. We are still in contact with the leaders, although we need to start putting a decent run together soon if we are to stay with them. Still a lot of football to be played yet, plus now, maybe, we’ll get a bit of Fergie time!
I’m really pleased with this appointment. Mike Phelan has a record which speaks for itself and if he’s half as successful here as at United there’s fun times ahead.
Whether there’s as element of succession planning in this appointment I care not. Maybe it “ticks another box” but that’s a debate for another (hopefully distant) day.
Ian Medals says
Let’s hope Phelan turns out to be more McClaren-like than Quieroz-like. It seems a bit of an odd combination considering their respective experiences but fingers crossed it will be a ‘Starsky & Hutch’ partnership and not a ‘Dempsey & Makepeace’ one.
A new appointment brings new hope but let’s not forget that Phelan was number 2 to Megson for an underwhelming few months in 95-96 when we won just 5 out of 27. I’m sure his experience at Old Trafford will serve us well but in terms of the ‘manager-in-waiting’ conspiracy theory, you have to ask why Phelan has spent a 20 year apprenticeship in coaching roles without ever being offered/asking for the top job somewhere.
As coach he’s got his work cut out – Johnson’s passing, Redmond’s end-product, Grabban’s finishing….
Canary Mary says
Some very valid points made in this article.
But as Neil said he got exactly who he wanted
Dave B says
Fantastic. I’d hoped we’d get Phelan, but didn’t expect we could pull it off. I would love to see him officially appointed as Assistant Manager.
Canary Mary – I very, very, very much doubt Adam’s had anything to do with this appointment.
McNally chopped Robson (not Adam’s) and McNally found his successor (not Adam’s). There is no way they would trust a man who picked Steve Foley in this role to pick and choose here. There is far too much riding on it (i.e. immediate promotion), and you can bet your bottom dollar Phelan will be on far more money than Adam’s. McNally doesn’t care, he wants the best after winging it with some poor choices in the summer.
PS. There is also no way this man would join us again if there wasn’t more to the appointment. Man United to us in the champ means something else is on the table here.
Keith B says
“I find it tricky to imagine a scenario where he is not manager fairly soon” says Paul (2) above.
Well how about he turns out to be exactly the experience and back-up that Adams and Gary Holt need, our form improves, and we head back up the table. Why then would the manager’s role suddenly become available?
Or alternatively he has no impact at all, we remain on a downward spiral. Adams leaves. He is then promoted to manager? Really? Despite having had no impact? Despite, like Adams, having retired from the game long ago and never seemingly aspired to being a manager rather than a coach?
Phelan is a coach, a good coach. He likes being a coach. He left OT 18 months ago. If he really wanted to be a manager – and if he has the right personality for that position – surely he would have been snapped up by somebody by now.
Perhaps he has been applying and been rejected. Why would he suddenly be what we need then? More likely it’s just not what he wants to do.
The biggest reservation I have about Adams is why it took him so long to decide he wanted to manage. As I observed a couple of weeks ago most of the successful managers, certainly British, go straight to it after playing, with no or minimal time in coaching – Ferguson, Clough, O’Neill, Lambert, Moyes etc. etc. It’s what Gary Monk has done with no experience at all; he seems to have taken to it like a swan to water. MacLaren is an exception, can’t think of many though.
I think Adams has persuaded himself after many years of coaching and observation from the press box that he can do it. Maybe he can, I very much hope so. I’m not convinced.
I don’t think Phelan has ever thought about going down that route and all this message-board talk of him being “in waiting” or using us as a “stepping stone” etc. etc. is tosh.
Stewart Lewis says
I usually have something to contribute here, but the first six comments (plus the article) say it all. Plenty of games to go; plenty to look forward to. Cheers
Stewart Lewis says
My comment was posted before Jimbo (7) appeared! I can only think his assertions are as misplaced as his apostrophes.
Alan Medis says
The ‘Old Boys’ network is taking over. Whatever next? Andy Townsend as kit man? Gary Megson on the till in the merchandise shop? Danny Mills flogging match day programs?! At least Malky’s found himself employment although will it last until we go there?
Phelan was clearly second in command at Old Trafford (despite his claims he was running the side in the final years). With Neil, that demarcation seems a lot less clear from where I’m standing.
Stewart(10) – can’t believe you don’t have more to contribute on this potentially brilliant/potentially divisive appointment!
Frances Lewis says
Well done Mr McNally
Stewart Lewis says
Alan (12): I don’t take much persuading!
Jimbo’s statements seem to me wild and implausible. But at least one of them is testable. Perhaps one of us has good enough contacts to ascertain whether Phelan ‘is on far more money’ than Adams. If not, Jimbo’s house of cards collapses.
Setting that aside, I can’t beat the earlier comments from Gazza (3) and others. Perhaps there’s a thought of Phelan as a potential manager if it doesn’t work out for Neil. But I don’t think our Board is looking for it to happen (unlike trigger-happy clubs like Fulham where they certainly do).
Phelan touted himself around for a top managerial job and no-one bit. It’s perfectly sensible for him to be employed in a club with prospects of success, especially with colleagues he trusts and a supportive environment.
Those who write off Adams as a lightweight need to explain some inconvenient facts: Wes, Ruddy, Redmond, Turner and others queued up to commit themselves to playing for him; Joe Royle wanted to help him; Gary Holt gave up a manager’s job to be part of his team; now Phelan is enthusiastically joining. McNally – who ruthlessly dismissed Gunn – has committed the club and his own reputation to him. There must be something to the guy.
Alan Medis(2) says
Stewart-14. Knew I could flush an opinion out with a gentle verbal prod. Your old sparring partner Dave B. (6) seems unusually compendious in his comment on the subject.
I hope the Adams-Phelan-Holt team is of the dream variety and lead us to glory..but I have that nagging sense it could be Peter Grant markII.
Danny Mills – program seller? Job’s too good for him.
Stewart Lewis says
Alan (15): it’s not the same when I can’t argue with Dave!
You may be right, of course. Phelan looks a good catch in his own right, and in theory he should complement what we already have. But only time will tell whether the chemistry works with Adams and Holt.
Personally I wouldn’t buy a programme from Danny Mills. And kit man sounds a bit too much responsibility for Andy Townsend…
Stewart (16) -Couldn’t agree more on both Mills and Andy “In my playing days at Southampton, Chelsea, Aston Villa and West Brom, Clive”.
Keith B has hit the nail on the head