Almost in the blink of an eye, Mike Phelan’s third spell at Carrow Road is over.
This time around he presided as coach for just nine games – five wins, one draw and three defeats, including that FA Cup crash at Preston. A return of 16 points from 24 in the league is a worthy and possibly crucial contribution to our efforts to get back into the top six and get promoted in May.
Inevitably, once overlooked for Neil Adams’s vacated slot, Phelan decided that Carrow Road was not the place to further his career. The current rumours are that he may pop up in Hull as assistant to another ex-Canary, Steve Bruce.
I think most City fans understand why Phelan couldn’t stay and be part of the new Alex Neil regime and wish him well in the future. He’s unlikely to return for a fourth time.
In terms of any aftershocks felt through the playing squad, I suspect there won’t be too much damage done as Phelan had so little time to get to know the individuals.
This latest rapid backroom exit will quickly be forgotten with the highly focused and energised approach of the new boss and the imminent arrival from Hamilton of his trusted right-hand man, one Frankie McAvoy; a name that in an instant conjures up fear and respect.
There simply wasn’t going to be enough room on that sideline for Neil, McAvoy, Phelan and Holt. Phelan no doubt sensed that his continued presence would be awkward and he would be further ‘sidelined’ in favour of the new coach.
It’s hard not to have that thumping baseline from Another one bites the dust in your head at this time. Joe Royle, Mark Robson and now Phelan all hardly had time to unpack their suitcases before heading back out of Norfolk. Neil Adams too is just a memory now although he has a return ticket booked for the summer.
If there isn’t a revolving door to David McNally’s office then it might be worth installing one just in case.
While football seems to be an increasingly cut throat business, with little room for sentimentality or patience, the loss of four members of the backroom team with only just over half the season gone does seem a tad ill-fated.
With 20 games still to battle out, I’m already feeling queasy from both the on-pitch and off- pitch ups and downs. ‘Turbulent’ would be a fitting word to describe the 2014-15 season so far. In some ways it’s miraculous that we’re still strongly placed on the rails behind the current top six and in prime position for a late charge to glory.
If we do get promoted, then these events will mean nothing and we can all look back and chortle at what a wacky a season it was. Pretty much everyone suspected it would be a rollercoaster on the pitch but maybe not likewise off it.
If we don’t get promoted then, unless the new reign turns decidedly ugly, Neil won’t be fearing the high road back to Scotland. He can expect the whole-hearted backing from board and supporters for a full tilt at the Premier League in 2015-16.
Hopefully the departure of Phelan represents the final collateral damage experienced in an ultimately triumphant season. With the transfer window open for another eleven days, and Premier League clubs sniffing around one or two of our prize possessions, anymore one-way tickets out of Norfolk may cost us more dearly.