In some small enclaves of the Canary Nation they’ll be celebrating today. From those same pockets came the bile and hate that prompted David McNally’s ‘resignation’ tweet on Saturday evening.
However, for the rest of us it’s an inglorious end to a boardroom reign that took us on one of the most thrilling footballing rides imaginable.
Forget Leicester and their rags to riches via the deep pockets of a couple of Thai billionaire businessmen story. Forget Southampton and their League One to Europa League via administration and a billionaire Swiss businessman fairytale.
We did it the hard way; the right way.
Under McNally, and with Alan Bowkett riding shotgun, we dodged the bullets of numerous financial institutions and all that League One and the Championship could throw at us, and emerged four seasons later as a debt-free, efficiently run Premier League football club. And all without the aid of a cash-laden safety net.
Creditors were paid every penny they were owed, the tax man was beaming and we, the fans, were treated to Premier League football for four seasons out of seven.
Yep, it was a roller-coaster alright and and, yep, if we were to add them up (someone will) the disappointments probably outnumbered the highs but when you’re Norwich City at the very top table that tends to be the case. And the good times were really good.
McNally’s arrival, when we were at our lowest ebb, was the end of ‘lovely little Norwich’. And in fairness to Delia and Michael, by appointing him they had identified that that had to be, and needed to be, the case.
He didn’t take long to bare his teeth – as Bryan Gunn and that long, lonely train journey back from Yeovil will testify – but it was a move that changed the direction of Norwich City forever. He knew who Gunny’s replacement was going to be, it just so happened the man himself and his then employers were yet to find out.
When Paul Lambert was tipped the nod he jumped at the prospect. Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling was obviously less enamoured but in a very public game of brinkmanship there was to be only one winner.
And for the second time in the space of a fortnight we witnessed a ruthless streak that had been missing from Carrow Road since the early seventies. No longer were we going to be push-overs. No more ‘dear little Norwich’.
This was how things were going to be.
Lambert, along with Ian Culverhouse and Gary (what did he do?) Karsa, were but one planet in a whole line that aligned perfectly. At one end, McNally and Bowkett ensuring that the bank manager and tax man were kept at bay, at the other Team Lambert, and in between a snarling Grant Holt in his absolute prime and Wes Hoolahan’s dancing feet.
For the Yellow Army, who’d been suffering an Ipswich Town-style famine, it was dreamland. Magic dust everywhere. And it was a dream from which we were only awaken when Mr Lambert’s feet started getting itchy. ‘The most impatient man in football’ had ambitions beyond those which Norwich City could deliver.
He departed amidst a similar furore to which he arrived. McNally was unhappy. On his scale of success, losing a manager whom he wanted to retain registered as a failure.
And, although we didn’t realise it at the time, in Premier League terms that was almost as good as it was going to get. Chris Hughton in his first season usurped Lambert by one league place but by then the magic dust had long since drifted off into the ether.
And for a season the McNally mojo did show signs of abating. The appointment of Neil Adams as Hughton’s successor, first as a temp and then on a permanent deal, suggested his decision-making was either being superseded in the boardroom or was off-beam.
But when City’s bid to bounce straight back to the Premier League threatened to derail, out came the cape and the McNally of old swung back into action. Alex Neil was his man – even though most of us hadn’t heard of him – and the months of January to May of 2015 are now the stuff of Canary legend.
The summer of 2015 is sadly where the story starts to unravel. Poor recruitment was clear for all to see and as the summer window closed with City minus any significant reinforcements in defence and attack, the first questions of McNally’s tenure started to be asked.
Having made himself part of City’s executive football board, McNally – along with Neil, head of scouting Lee Darnborough and technical director Ricky Martin – became culpable for not only errors of judgement in the boardroom but also those of the footballing kind.
And a failure to land a top class centre-back (or two) and a striker who could score goals were ultimately to contribute to his downfall.
He had flaws and mistakes have undeniably been made, and not just around our inability to successfully recruit, but without him one suspects the travails of the Championship would have been our staple; four seasons in the Prem just a distant dream.
Quite what happened between him departing Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon and issuing that tweet on Saturday evening will probably remain a mystery, but for another to be issued a few hours later which denied the content of the first may just have been a ‘take 24 hours to think about it’ scenario. Who knows.
But it’s an ugly, ungainly end to an era that transformed our club forever, and I hope against hope that the odd timing of his departure is in no way related to the moronic abuse that was fired his way after Saturday’s game. That would be a sad end.
Let’s also not forget that there will be folk at the club (and who have since departed) who won’t be upset at his departure. His abrasiveness was not something to be enjoyed if you were on the receiving end, neither always was his style of management. But it worked.
And for that we will, or should, be forever grateful.
He’s scared the s**t out of us at times – but not as much as those on the opposite side of the table. He dragged us up from the depths when the depths looked sure to win. He even played a part in a goal. And he’s been at the helm as we, together, embarked on the ride of a lifetime.
Good luck Mr Mc and thank-you. It’s been fun.