There is little doubt that after events of last weekend, the Alex Neil bandwagon is starting to roll.
Not for everyone, of course.
Judgement may be reserved for another few weeks; people have said their bit; rowing back from that might take a while.
But my sense would be that the goodly majority of Norwich City supporters are starting to now appreciate the new man in the midst; someone whose post-match Press performances certainly belie his tender managerial years.
And given his words are now matching the players’ deeds, then City supporters have every reason to look forward to the next few weeks. A place in the play-offs might be the least of the 33-year-old’s ambitions.
But before that train speeds out of the station, I would just spare one final thought for Neil Adams; neither a bad man nor a bad manager – just one dealt a wretched hand by powers greater than he. In particular with regard to Sebastien Bassong whose return to centre stage has underpinned Norwich’s recent return to defensive form and assurance.
Bassong is a decent player. That has long been obvious. And nor are players daft. They know who the best player is in their midst; the one that can make the real difference.
But he needs managing.
And the argument against Adams will be that he didn’t manage Bassong well enough – certainly not by the standards that his immediate successor appears to be demonstrating.
But this is where I think Adams got the browner end of the stick.
Bassong was always Chris Hughton’s man. And people who still cling to this lovely notion that today’s generation of players play for the shirt and the badge and not the man that delivers the cheque need to get a little real.
Bassong would, in every likelihood, have been in open rebellion from the moment that the Board ushered Hughton out of the door.
His mood will not have been helped by the sight of the club’s Youth coach being given the big gig – nor would the ‘scoured Europe’ quote have helped, either.
From Adams’ perspective – just as it had with Bryan Gunn – such opportunities come but once. I don’t think anyone should begrudge him the fact that, when asked, he stepped up to the plate. Knowing, I suspect, full well the likely reception he would get in certain corners of the dressing room. Which he duly got.
I’m not sure how those bridges would have been rebuilt. Given the angry, poisoned waters that might have flowed beneath them. In every likelihood in public; in front of the dressing room. Both sides will have made their stand; both might have been in little mood to stand down.
Adams hope must have been to force Bassong to back down in the face of his success on the pitch; proof that he could deliver a side capable of promotion without ‘The Rock’ at its heart.
Bassong would have waited for Europe’s greatest available coach to fall short in that ambition and, as a result, to feel his point was proved. He should never have been given the job. The youth team coach… Per-lease.
New guy comes in; let’s talk… And he starts again. Bridge rebuilt. No history.
My point is that I wouldn’t judge the short reign of Neil Adams too harshly.
He was still offered the gang plank with the Norfolk club in seventh; that’s no mean feat in your first season out of the Premier League. And, in particular, with arguably your best player having sulked off to Vicarage Road for the autumn.
There might be one or two others who, likewise, were less than impressed in the managerial change; their dismay and displeasure might just have been less visible than that of the club captain.
But given the memory span of most football supporters tends to be that of a goldfish when results are going well, all the above is history now.
Neil is the man of the moment. He has fired that dressing room back into life and got all the players back on the same page. Sniffing success and a swift return to the land of the big, fat bonus.
Good luck to all concerned; I sense the unheralded Scot might have a certain something to him. A natural born manager – maybe more so than the luckless Adams.
But don’t to be too quick to condemn the latter. There were strained relationships there that weren’t of his making, nor of his asking. And for that he paid a heavy price.
Ben K says
It’s hard to disagree with this. Any reasonable person would agree that Adams was doing a more than reasonable job. Just look at the other two clubs who came down with us.
Re Bassong, what was it that actually happened? From the sound of it he spat the dummy when Hughton was sacked, but all I ever heard were rumours and no details.
Totally disagree with the Bassong comments. A good manager would have sent him away for a month on loan then reconciled (as it was obvious to ALL he is way too good not to use, especially when we were faltering at the back week in, week out). You’re just making excuses for someone who wasn’t capable of handling the situation properly. That situation was always going to determine whether he was a success or not, as it would have highlighted his ability to get a sulking ego back on board. He failed…and so did his tenure. Don’t offer up the sympathy card, it’s complete nonsense. The proof is in the pudding (aka sacked/removed/resigned).
It´s clear from how the players have responded to Alex Neil, that Adams was out of his depth in the managerial department. There was no clear pattern, no clear direction, and no clear structure in his coaching, all of which has been quickly rectified since Neil´s arrival. Players appreciate and respond to that, and have respect for someone, even someone of tender years, with a clear strategy.
Adams was a likeable man, enticed into an impossible position, but that´s where the sympathy should end.
patrick higgins says
Including Bournemouth away…which is generous…Alex Neil has exactly the same record as Neil Adams achieved at the start of this season, namely 5 wins 1 draw 1 defeat.
Far too early to draw any definitive conclusions as to whether this is ‘new manager bounce’ or anything more lasting.
Good article, Rick. I agree with Ben on this as Neil Adams had to steady the ship and push on after relegation. None of the other recently relegated teams are even in the top half of the table. Bassong wasn’t the only problem Adams faced as he had the Robson sacking to deal with and the wait for Phelan to replace him as well as having to do without Hooper for most of his time in charge. That showed in the good run of 10 points from 5 games in December once Phelan was on board.
What I don’t see is why people have to put down Adams in order to support Alex Neil. Neil wouldn’t have even been a candidate for the job in the summer, so they were hardly competing in any sense. Adams has resigned, so let’s move on and and support Neil and the team from here.
Neil N. Pray says
There are so many ways of looking at the Adams/Bassong situation but without knowing details it’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Maybe Adams cut off his nose to spite his face. Maybe he had to lay down the law in respect to Bassong for the sake of unity in the dressing room. Do we really know?
I take the point that Neil has 16 points from his first 7 games, just as Adams did. But it seems clear to me that we are now far better organised, have a much better balance between defence and attack, and a more focused group of players.
But let’s make sure we don’t paint Neil Adams’ tenure as a disaster. The 37 points he got from his 24 games may be a little short of what was required, but if we do achieve something great this season he should have our gratitude.
I take your point, but I don’t really buy it.
The King is dead, long live the King. We’ll never know why Adams put Bassong out to grass.
Adams never got the show on the road. In the early season we flattered to deceive.
Poor management decision followed poor decision and it was compounded as results started to more accurately refect the performances.
The diamond (on day one), 4231, 442 or 4411. No settled system. Endless back four changes – some enforced, many not.
Dreadful in-game management, more often than not reacting to events rather than trying to dictate them.
Overly attacking one minute, a defensive line-up at home the next.
Lving proof that the job is a million times harder than it appears from the radio pundit’s chair or that many armchair pundits appreciate.
I liked him and I wanted him to succeed. Good to see he’s taken his Uefa Pro Licence and is working with England U17.
Yes, a tough gig but ultimately there was never the luxury of learning on the job. Phelan from day one might have brought enough to see him through. Who knows?
I don’t blame him. For me, an appointment made with the heart rather than the head. OTBC