Let’s suppose for one moment certain punters are right. That the straight-talking Tim Sherwood figures on the City wish-list.
It is purely for argument’s sake.
Long, long gone are the days when the local reporters are summoned to the chairman’s suite at the back of the River End to be told that the manager hasn’t resigned yet, ‘but just give me a few minutes…’
But let’s say he’s the one – where does that leave Mike Phelan?
It is the one thing I can’t quite get my head round; how the former Old Trafford No2 sits in terms of events of late.
And I am quite happy to believe – for now – Mick’s assertion that he remains no ‘shoe in’ to take Neil Adams’ place in the hot seat.
But there are certain realities to the managerial merry-go-round as practiced in the 21st Century.
One is that everyone comes with a team. At the very top of the tree that team extends right down to the Assistant Third Masseuse. But even at Norwich’s level, a ‘Team Tim’ will in every likelihood include his own man for head coach.
Which, presumeably, would then see the luckless Phelan following Adams out of the door at Colney – little more than eight weeks after he arrived.
An exit that, likewise, will come with a hefty severance bill attached. It could be the most rewarding two months of Phelan’s career.
Of course, pressure might be applied to ensure that he is part of the back-room staff; he comes as part of the package.
Which is one way of going forward. But that – in the tightly-knit confines of a dressing room – is not an ideal scenario. Football politics being such as they are, he will inevitably be perceived as someone else’s eyes and ears.
Whether or not that is the reality, the perception will be there from the start.
So, again, in the interests of a clean slate, a fresh start and a new broom, I’m not a great fan of Team Tim plus MP. It smacks of a bodge job.
The other scenario, of course, is that Phelan gets the big gig himself.
He can hardly be overly-blamed for Adams’ fall from grace; though I would strongly agree with the sentiments of those beyond Norfolk that see little disgrace in being seventh at Christmas on your first season out of the top flight.
But, moving on…
Should Phelan prove to be the chosen one, then his arrival was what Adams might have feared all along – that he was a manager in waiting; that Adams himself was a dead man walking. One more slip and he would be out.
It is, obviously, a huge decision for all concerned.
But I’m not sure it is made any easier by the whole MP situation.
Personally? I think I would sway to young and hungry. Fire in the belly.
But then I would apply that rule of thumb to the dressing room, too.
I wouldn’t be too averse to someone from the continent. But then having already ‘scoured Europe’ the once last summer, there can’t be that much out there, right?
My money – for the very little that it is worth – would be on Phelan.
He has the clear ambition; as a No2 to Sir Alex, his record is top dollar.
The big question mark is whether a great No2 can become a great No1; equally, in the current febrile mood amongst the supporters whether every section of Carrow Road will give him the time to make that transition.
Patience is not the biggest of virtues in the age of the message board and the hash tag.
We will see. But, as ever, there is never a dull moment down by the banks of the Wensum.
Stewart Lewis says
All interesting thoughts. The Adams-Phelan combination seemed to settling down (promotion form in December), but with Adams’s departure the presence of Phelan certainly muddies the water.
I don’t envy the Board their decisions, and have enough faith in their integrity to support whoever they choose. It’s the club I support, after all. Just to offer one thought: let’s not confuse histrionics on the touchline (Sherwood, Warnock, Lennon) with fire in the belly. A calmer-looking personality (e.g. Phelan) may have just as much steely determination and passion.
Ben K says
Phelan has about as much experience as anyone could wish for, as far as anyone who’s never been a manager does, certainly a lot more than Neil Adams. But, of course, coaching and managing are two different things.
Phelan was out of work in the summer, which raises the question of why he wasn’t appointed then. Was he even interviewed? In the wake of Alex Ferguson’s retirement he said that he saw his future in management. That would make sense, as any other coaching role would be a big step down, but he then spent a year doing nothing before pitching up in a lower division as #2 to a rookie.
I think I’m as confused as you, Rick.
Ben K says
One other thing: Phelan would’ve amassed quite a contact list in his time at Man utd, although many of those he worked with are probably much less useful re loan deals for promising youngsters like the ones Boro have by way of Karanka’s strong links with Mourinho. Would he still be able to call Ferguson for a favour, and would Ferguson still be able to oblige? Memories of a young David Beckham’s spell at Preston spring to mind.
Stewart Lewis says
Ben (3): Good point – we know Sir Alex was very positively disposed towards Phelan. Of course, this might all be academic now…
Derek P says
Surely, if Phelan was the chosen one, then he would have been appointed by now. If, as Mick says, the conversations begun on Saturday night, they would have had 5 days to sort something out by now.
I don’t now see him getting it and I, personally, like the look of this Alex Neil character.
Interesting article RW . Perhaps MP & any probable new appt have history ( conspiracy theories or what ? ) Do not underestimate Mac ‘the knife’ ) His record at NCFC shows him to be a shrewd & ruthless operator( NA saga excluded , and that may have been in part down to ‘sentimental Delia ‘. ) the ‘hijacking’ of PL from Colchester for example. Get it right this time, the board are in last chance saloon as far as most supporters are concerned OTBC.
So, Mick Phelan was SAF’s second in command. We have seen this so many time before where the second in command is assumed to be as good as the main man. If Phelan was lucky he got to make the tea, or get SAF’s cost when he was cold. I don’t buy this whole ‘good by association’ concept.