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.