Managers – love ’em or loathe ’em, where would football clubs be without them?
A communal-style player/fan committee approach has yet to be attempted to the best of my knowledge. No, it needs a figurehead willing to make the decisions and be the focal point for the successes and failures on the pitch.
The current incumbent at NR1 is doing a cracking job at present and if a poll was taken of all Canaries fans right now, the Neil approval rate would be 100 per cent surely? What a Cameron, Clegg, Miliband or Farage wouldn’t give for that kind of endorsement come decision day in May.
My fellow columnist Jon Rogers speculated last week on why Neil has been able to stamp his mark so quickly and so effectively just two months since snatching the carrot dangled over the border by David McNally.
The answer? There is no simple reply to such a teasing question. It’s an indecipherable hotchpotch of timing, personality and resources. Those ingredients are currently in the right proportions for a promotion push.
If, for whatever reason, one or more of those ingredients goes off the boil then the resulting mixture can begin to sour and things can quickly go very pear-shaped on the pitch.
Neil Adams at times seemed to get the balance right but, in hindsight, it was maybe more a case of luck than design.
Alex Neil, despite his relative youth, does appear to have more of a grand plan in place. The odd hiccup, like Wigan, will happen but does not seem to deflect him from the chosen path.
Of our 25 previous managers who have been in charge for 20 games or more, it’s fair to say they probably represent a pretty typical range of the human race in terms of style, character and success achieved.
They ranged from the blingy Mr Bond to Sergeant Major Saunders in terms of personal style. And from the fondly remembered faithful servant Stringer to the pithily reviled Roeder in terms of a club legacy.
The question of who was the best has arisen on this site and elsewhere and is usually put to a vote. Invariably the result comes down to personal opinion and is inevitably clouded by age, memory and nostalgic inclination.
But is there a sure-fire, ‘scientific’ way of deciding who the number one-number one is? As far as I’m aware this has not been attempted before – or at least if it has, the person wasn’t stupid enough to air it publicly. But I’ll take that gamble.
At a loss for anything more constructive to do with a recent soggy Sunday, I thought I’d take a shot at devising a system to rate this band of 25 brave men – from Neil Adams back to Duggie Lochhead – who have decided Norfolk’s footballing fates over the past 70 years.
Fool-proof? Almost certainly not. But here goes…
My system is based on 6 key loyalty/performance-based managerial categories, hence minimising any personal or nostalgic bias on my part:
1. Number of games in charge
2. Promotions achieved
4. Win ratio
5. Cup finals reached
6. Top league ‘stability’
Points for the respective categories are as follows:
1. 5 points for every 50 games in charge
2. 20 points for promotion to the top division (Premier League or old Division One), 10 points for promotion at a lower level
3. Minus (-)20 points for relegation, irrespective of the level
4. For a win ratio of 40% or more = 10 points; for 30-39% = 5 points; for 20-29% = -5 points; and for less than 20% = -10 points
5. 10 points for reaching a final (cup or play-off) and 5 bonus points for winning
6. 10 points for every season secured in the top division and a bonus 10 points for guiding the team to a top 10 finish. That makes a top 10 finish in the top division equivalent to a promotion.
So… the scores on the doors:
1. John Bond = 105 points
(340 games = 30points, 1 promotion = 20, 1 relegation = -20, 35% win ratio = 5, 1 cup final reached = 10, 5 successful seasons in top tier, including 1 top 10 finish = 60)
2. Ken Brown = 100 points (35, 40, -40, 10, 15, 40)
3. Dave Stringer = 95 points (20, 0, 5, 0, 70)
4. Ron Saunders = 65 points (20, 20, 0, 5, 10, 10)
5. Paul Lambert = 60 points (10, 30, 0, 10, 0, 10)
1. Bryan Gunn/John Deehan = -15 points
2. Chris Hughton/Gary Megson = -10 points
3. Bryan Hamilton = -5 points
The bottom lot will probably not cause much debate, the top order maybe more so.
Alex Neil currently sits on 0 points – due to less than 20 games in charge – with a golden future awaiting. Let’s hope he’s at Carrow Road long enough and is successful enough to cement a place in the pantheon of City’s managerial greats.