After a seven month hiatus away from Norfolk, former boss Neil Adams slipped back into the Canaries fold at the end of last week. While his return didn’t exactly go under the radar, it was a decidedly low key homecoming – no fanfare, no bunting.
Adams has a brand new job description – loans manager – and presumably a new office through which a number of peripheral and higher profile squad members, plus agents, will shortly be passing to decide the whereabouts of their immediate futures.
Official club statements were made, with David McNally in rather chilling and unemotional language stating that, “… Neil will be responsible for helping us to maximise our efficiency in this area of our strategy.” A reminder as if it was needed that McNally is first and foremost a businessman with a passion for football… not the other way round.
Surely though it could have been rephrased more in fan-friendly fashion to show a little more warmth and a little less technocrat speak?
Maybe, ‘Neil’s experience will be ideally suited to getting the best for the club from incoming and outgoing player loans’?
While Adams’ status at the club tends to split those fans, who can remember his playing days on the wing at Carrow Road, between considering him a club legend or a significantly overrated presence, his passion for the Fine City and its football club is without question.
The role is certainly new in every sense – both for him and the club. Comments have already been circulating that it smacks of a rather contrived and maybe unnecessary position that was invented purely to honour the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’, which was met to allow Adams to leave with reputation intact at the end of last year when a black cloud had descended.
Whatever your take on it, it does seem a little strange for a former first-team boss to return to a much reduced role at the same club. Possibly a unique situation.
It seems equally strange that Adams is happy to swap the track suit for a pin-stripe one, the dug-out for the office. He is a football man through and through, and so to be restricted to arranging ins and outs at the behest of current boss and CEO must have been a slightly bitter pill to swallow.
Why not get back into coaching or as an assistant-manager with another club? Adams’ CV in that respect is a fine one and would surely be an attractive proposition to just about any club in the land or even abroad.
It appears that after experiencing the merciless spotlight of media and fan expectation last season, he decided that the frontline wasn’t for him after all. He gave it a crack, came up short and in the interests of all parties chose to take a back seat but still give his time and effort to the club closest to his heart.
I don’t think any of us begrudge him that.
What will possibly be contentious of course is the relationships that evolve between Adams and Alex Neil – presumably their paths never crossed before – and even more so Adams and some of his former charges who lie outside of Alex’s favoured band of first picks.
AN and CEO will shortly be passing on the names to Adams of those who will be coming under his ‘loan arranger’ jurisdiction. Adams’ essentially personnel position will be to then try and find the most suitable destinations for the respective player and the best deals for Norwich City.
In that latter category most likely lie the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper, Kyle Lafferty and Michael Turner at the top of Adams’s in-tray.
Oh to be a fly on the new boy’s office wall for those meetings, which seem destined to take place over the coming weeks.
With Pardew’s Palace due in town at the weekend for the season opener, there is still much to ponder behind the scenes of the club.
So far, there are no detectable cracks or bad vibes emerging, just plenty of disagreement and sweating amongst fans as to whether we can cut it this season, but amongst those who have the power to influence, we seem to be heading united on a steady course.
Rarely does a happy ship stay that way for too long though.
There’s still a sense of a warm, rosy glow from last season’s triumph but that will dissipate very quickly if Cabaye, Bamford and Bolasie expose too many weaknesses next Saturday.
If we do get off to a bad start in August, Neil Adams may well find himself busier than he might have imagined. If so, let’s hope he can “maximise his efficiency in his appointed area of club strategy.”