A disappointing ten days or so.
And no Jeff, I’m not going to seek out any positives in the performances and results against Fulham, Preston and Leeds.
They weren’t good enough.
But no-one at the club, be it a player, a member of the coaching team or board member need to be told that.
The big difference is that they don’t tend to over-react in quite the same way as some supporters do when things don’t go to plan.
Mind you, it’s not just at Norwich where that knee-jerk response comes as standard. Not by any means. Indeed, if football clubs were required to answer to the demands of their most vociferous fans, the coming and going of players, managers and owners between clubs would be so extreme that no-one, short of the Hadron Collider would be able to keep up with it.
Arsene Wenger would have left Arsenal long ago. Whilst Slaven Bilic and West Ham might already have parted company and David Moyes and Sunderland would, even now, be yet another quick open and closed chapter in the annals in the club’s history.
There are sections of the Manchester City support questioning Guardiola’s appointment already. “He had it easy at Barcelona and Bayern Munich”, they protest, “…because they were clubs with loads of world class players and unlimited funds to call upon if new ones were needed.
What, like he already has at Manchester City?
Wolves have already parted company with Walter Zenga.
You can see the ‘logic’ behind the appointment.
New owners wanting big name coach they can schmooze with, be seen with, and have at their beck and call.
Played in a World Cup for Italy and got to the semi-finals plus a long and celebrated career at Inter Milan where he won both Serie A and UEFA Cup winners medals.
A big name. Big enough and famous enough for the brand new egos at Molineux. A name big enough to suit their egos.
A case of the appointment being a knee-jerk reaction rather than the dismissal. That was always going to happen and Zenga would have known it. Wolves were, after all, the sixteenth club of his managerial career. Sixteen clubs in eighteen years as a football manager.
Compared to one club in sixteen years as a player.
He might, of course, have brought about some success at Wolves, may yet have been the manager to get them back into the Premier League. But no-one was going to give him three, four, maybe even five years to do what might be needed at the club to do that; time, patience and money to gut the existing model and start again.
But time is a precious commodity in modern football. So much so that no-one has got any.
For anyone or anything.
When Norwich appointed Ron Saunders as their new manager in the summer of 1969 it did so with the caveat that he got the club promoted to the First Division within three years of his taking the job.
Geoffrey Watling had been appointed as the new club chairman in 1957 and had, along with the other members of his newly elected five man board, declared that their objective for the club was top flight football.
Indeed, for Watling, that ambition was not so much a plan as a deep hearted desire and passion he was determined to see through. He’d been used to success in his life and work already and wasn’t going to let the Canaries spoil either his record or reputation.
His board’s first managerial appointment, Archie Macaulay, might have been the man to have done it.
He not only led the team to that famous FA Cup semi-final spot in 1959 but one year after that had guided Norwich to promotion via second place in the old Division Three at the end of the 1959/60 season. The Canaries made a good start to that season as well and were, by the end of the first week of the season very handily placed in the table with a record of P12 W6 D4 L2, a run that had included impressive victories over Charlton Athletic (4-0) and Lincoln City (5-1).
Things were looking good.
And might have stayed that was had Macaulay not, in the same manner as another ambitious young Scottish manager had shown a little over four decades later, decided that bigger and better things were on offer for him at a big city club in the Midlands – in this case, West Bromwich Albion.
Had Macaulay stayed at Norwich I think there is every chance that he may, ultimately, have taken the club into the elite of English football at the end of that season, more likely than not, at the end of that 1960/61 campaign.
When he’d joined the club we were down at the bottom of the old Division Three (South) and were, save for the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s, bankrupt. He then went on to lose his first four games as Norwich manager, seeing us concede ten goals in the process and finish bottom of the table and having to go through the ignominy of applying for re-election to the football league as a result of that.
That 1956/57 season was, without doubt, the worst in the club’s history, one that had seen us go on a run of 25 straight league games without a win, a sequence that had included defeats of 5-1 (Millwall); 4-1 (Crystal Palace); 6-3 (Walsall); 5-2 (Reading) and, most humiliatingly of all, a 7-1 hammering at Torquay; a game and result that might well have spelled the end of Ken Nethercott’s career as Norwich goalkeeper.
Ken was dropped after that game with his place taken by Ken Oxford for the rest of the season.
Yet Macaulay clearly saw something in Nethercott and, after Oxford left to join Derby midway through the following season, Nethercott was restored to the side, becoming, in time, a key player for part of the club’s subsequent run to the FA Cup semi-finals two seasons later.
Unfortunately injury ruled him out of a longer career with the club by which time Sandy Kennon had established himself as the club’s number one keeper.
Macaulay was given time to turn the club’s fortunes around and Nethercott given time to prove himself as a player – two decisions that paid rich dividends in the end.
You suspect that neither party would have had quite such a sympathetic response in today’s game.
Once Macaulay had left the club, the momentum that had been built up under his tenure was lost. After eventually finishing in 4th place at the end of the 1960/61 season, our promotion chances doubtlessly lost in the miserable run of just 8 wins from the 21 games that followed shortly after Macaulay’s departure, the club fell back into the familiar mediocrity that had preceded Macaulay’s arrival, with season ending positions of 17th (1961/62); 11th (1962/63); 17th (1963/64); 6th (1964/65); 13th (1965/66); 11th (1966/67); 9th (1967/68) and 13th (1968/69).
Not what Watling was looking for at the club or in his managers.
Willie Reid (who at least won us a League Cup); George Swindin; Ron Ashman and Lol Morgan had all followed Macaulay into the job at Norwich but, for one reason or another, their appointments had not worked out.
So when Ron Saunders became Watling’s sixth manager in a little under eight years immediately prior to the 1969/70 season, he would have been under no illusions of what was expected of him.
Other club owners, chairmen and directors might have been happy with the club being able to establish itself in Division Two. It was, after all, a laudable enough achievement for one that had needed to apply for re-election twice in previous years as well as going as close as it is possible to be in being declared bankrupt.
But Watling wanted more than that. And Saunders had three years to deliver.
Zenga was given less than three months at Wolves. And sacked because he had only managed to win four of the clubs first fourteen league games this season.
After Norwich had played their first fourteen league games under Saunders in the 1969/70 season, we’d won just one game more. We’d lost 3-0 to Leicester, 4-0 at Bristol City and 3-1 at Blackburn. In addition to that, we’d been dumped out of the League Cup at the first round stage by Hull.
Not the best or brightest of starts for our new manager.
But Saunders was given his three years regardless. And, ultimately, he delivered as expected.
But I wonder how long it would have been before people started to lose patience with him had his appointment and that early run been this season rather than back then?
Or do we at least have a little more patience than they do up in Wolverhampton?