The last few days of post-Daniel Norwich City have been a whirlwind of very little information.
A tweet from a renowned in-the-know City aficionado at the start of the week suggested that Norwegian coach Kjetil Knutsen from Bodo/Glimt was going to be the replacement for Farke.
Shortly afterwards the usually reliable John Percy of the Telegraph announced that Frank Lampard was in talks and so the pendulum swung back.
As we sit here on Friday morning, TalkSport boldly announced this morning that Frank Lampard was on the verge of agreeing to become the new boss, and last evening Sky reported that Dean Smith had just conducted a very impressive interview with the club’s hierarchy.
How much, if any, of this is based in reality, we can only speculate.
It certainly wouldn’t be beyond the likes of Sky to throw in a new name just to drum up a few more quid for SkyBet, or for TalkSport to make up some utter drivel just to pad out their programming.
Where I am, and where I believe many of the yellow and green faithful are, is attempting to prepare myself to back the new coach, regardless of who it is.
Knutsen is an easy win for me to get behind. Little known, but an increasing profile due to unprecedented success for a smaller club and an exciting attacking playing style. Ticks the boxes that I like in a City boss.
But is he too inexperienced? Or too similar to Farke? Will our cadre of international Premier League players get the lift and confidence they desperately need from a coach they’ve never heard of whose CV consists of Norwegian league football?
Dean Smith has always struck me as a nice bloke, a student of the game, and someone prepared to give new ideas a go. Someone who has worked under a similar structure to ours when at Brentford, and who would buy into the club ethos.
But how damaged is he by the Villa experience? There has to be a rawness from losing his dream job less than a week ago surely? And for all his positive points, did he just get the best out of a one-man Grealish-led Villa only to find that he could no more survive without him than Farke could Buendia.
The most difficult for me to get behind though is Frank Lampard.
Everything about him immediately screams wrong to me. The experience of him rocking up at Derby with barely a coaching badge to his name and having the national media fawn over him for a season was nauseating. He then gets another job he hasn’t really earned, jumping the queue of managers who have proved themselves, and I spent a season and a half-hoping he’d fall flat on his face at his boyhood club.
A few tweets have already mentioned Lampard’s alleged political persuasion. That’s obviously crazy and should be ignored entirely.
But you can see where the thought pattern began because there is something of the overprivileged about Lampard’s managerial career thus far. A footballing class system that separates Lampard from the vast majority. He hasn’t done the hard yards in a comprehensive, learning his trade the way most have to. He’s had the express route to employment, straight into the job he wants based solely on name and contacts.
He’s not the punchy underdog that Norwich City aspires to be. He’s jarringly different to the humble Farke, the growling Glaswegian “Them Against Us” Lambert, or any other manager that has come to this fine club before.
Lampard is very much one of the footballing establishment. One of those that usually looks down from on high at the likes of Little Old Norwich. It could barely be more of a culture shock than if Prince William declared he was ready to give football management a bash and showed up at Colney enquiring where one might acquire a tracksuit.
It’s a lot to take in.
Increasingly, as it’s become more likely, I’ve been trying to talk myself into viewing the potential appointment in a positive light, as I will for whoever wanders through the manager’s door eventually.
If you can possibly separate the Frank Lampard ™ media brand from the manager, he doesn’t have an awful CV. Get away from how he just wandered into a Championship job, and he did pretty well at Derby.
Yes he had money and inherited a half-decent squad (supplanted with a supply line of fringe first-team Chelsea youngsters), but as many a manager will tell you, you can have great players but if you can’t get them to play together you won’t be successful.
For a first-ever season in management, to get them organised enough to play good football and finish as a Championship play-off finalist is impressive whichever way you slice it. Not impressive enough to immediately earn a job with a top six elite club, but if you come with the Frank Lampard ™ media brand you get to jump a few stages of proving yourself.
Fourth place and a respectable if forgettable Champions League showing in his first season with Chelsea while blooding youngsters like James, Temori, Mount and Hudson-Odoi is not to be taken lightly either.
The following season and a mediocre (but by no means disastrous) period led to Chelsea showing him the door with a ruthlessness that, while not unexpected, must still have stung, as it will have Smith.
While he hasn’t exactly earned the opportunities he has been given, neither has he been a massive failure in either of them. For someone who has managed for only two-and-a-half seasons, he’s won a hell of a lot of games. Yes, he’s had the resources to do so, but so have a lot of other highly respected managers who’ve made a much bigger pig’s ear of it.
I think if we go back a few years and look at another Chelsea manager as a comparison, it might give us some perspective. Roberto Di Matteo didn’t quite get the leg up that Lampard did, but after reasonable stints at MK Dons and WBA, he parlayed a coaching role at Stamford Bridge under Andre Villas-Boas into the caretaker boss in March before winning the Champions League and FA Cup at the end of the season.
In typical Chelsea fashion, he only lasted until the following November but was then one of the most sought-after coaches in football for a while. Had the timelines been skewed and a figure like Di Matteo shown an interest in the Norwich job, I tend to think we’d have welcomed him with open arms. But then he didn’t come with the Lampard ™ baggage.
And while his achievements were hugely impressive, it’s difficult to say they were any more a part of his endeavours from March to May than Lampard planning and implementing a top-four finish in his first Premier League season, seen out in its entirety.
Putting all issues aside, Lampard does have ability as a manager. Whether it’s the right amount for the task at Norwich is another matter entirely. Is he up for his first experience of a relegation scrap on limited resources? Time to roll your sleeves up and get dirty with the farmers, Frankie.
We know the media frenzy will be awful. We know the “Frank Lampard’s Norwich City” will p1ss off everyone else in football as it did when it happened to Derby.
But maybe it’s time to embrace high profile. Maybe this is what we need to feel like a part of the Premier League that they don’t want to scrape off every May.
I’m deep into trying to persuade myself of the positives, whomever it may be.
If they can keep us up, I don’t really care who it is.
I, too, will find it difficult to get behind Lampard for all the reasons you say. I am already fed up with the way the Internet is buzzing with stories about how Norwich can now be used as a testing ground for Chelsea’s less successful players to give them experience (presumably on inflated wages and blocking the path of our own academy graduates).
Christopher Riches says
My thoughts, expressed pretty well word for word – now get out of my head, please!
This is one of those occasions I feel so relieved that we still have the owners that we do. They will be swayed less by image in their input to this process – even if not necessarily making the final decision….
Andy Grey Rider says
They will be chosen by the club and we minnows will not get a say, it’s as simple as that.
Connor and the others are spouting the same nonsense too.
If I don’t like them like Lambert, Worthington, Hughton and Neil. I won’t have anything to do with them and await their departure.
I will get behind the team but not the hierarchy at the club, as they’re only in it to line their pockets.
Great article and exactly in line with my thoughts.
I can’t stand the idea of ‘Frank Lampards Norwich City ‘. If he fails it will be the clubs fault inevitably. Both of the others have more of a Norwich City feel. Still sorry and sad about Daniel
Much prefer Knutsen for the long term suits us far better .For me lampard or Smith would be the wrong appointment lampard is a money man another rookie in my eyes can’t believe we even considering him tbh very disappointed . Kjetil Knutsen would of been a smart long term choice . Gonna take a long time to stomach Frank ,let’s hope he’s not here too long like Mr Webber .
Midfield Mike says
I think KK would be brilliant too….. but if City gets smashed for 5-6 months whilst he’s getting his ideas across…. That leaves a very hollow summer ahead. Hard to rebuild from, do we even have the athleticism he needs from his players? Do we have the CDM he needs to make his system work?
For me, this appointment is about matching a coach to the players we are already committed too. A new coach isn’t going to have the benefit of choosing his own players, we are chock-a-block.
Keith Ord says
In my view Lampard is media driven
Has more money than Delia.and is a stepping stone to greater things. At the expense of all the good things
City have done in the last 3 seasons A no from me
Firstly who in their right. Mind,has ever employed a cast off within a week
A totally intrigued thing to do
That undermines the work of farke and the core Norwich fan base if things go wrong that’s the end of Norwich as the little club with a big heart.
He is on the rebound and feels let down by Villa just wants to use the club as a stepping stone to say I told you I was good.
Is by far the best candidate for little old Norwich media virgin
Great .Can bring a lot to the table in not changing the squad we have but getting the best out of them add a few good unknown youngsters
And give it a goo try to stay up if we don’t he will stay and bring on the club to complete at premiership top ten level when we come back up in 22 23 season. A wise move and a great option
Keith Ord says
You have the the Butcher Lampard
The Baker Smith
And the candlestick maker the Norwegian
Scoff and gone scoff and gone and the craftsman that makes things last a lifetime..
Good read, we will lose our identity with Lampard, as you already mentioned it will not be Norwich City anymore. If he is given the role and provides us with some success, we will be sitting here again talking about a new manager/coach. Frankie boy will jump ship quicker than anyone getting off the Titanic.
We need someone with some steel who wants to succeed that term hungry always crops up, someone who has the strength of mind and body, because they will need that in this fight, with everyone who has ever commented on the beautiful game, having us buried already. Sorry Frank I do not get that when I think and look at you, you haven,t suffered enough in football to have the fight needed. The plate has always been full. But why has he not been snapped up since January ?
Mr Knutsen I know next to nothing only what I have read, football in Norway must be akin to Scotland 2-3 teams really in with a shout. But he has proved he knows the game well earned his stripes coming through the ranks of lower teams, but to get his team to put six past special one must be a highlight. He excited me the most
Smith ticks more boxes for me in just about every dept, Premiership, Championship, having money not having it. Promotion,. Dog fighting. He has a lot more to prove, he looks and sounds he is strong character who will roll up his sleeves. He was in a situation at a club with money that will not have the patience nor give the time needed,(5 games I ask you) money wants success at almost any cost, more than a poorer club.
Webber has not done too bad in his time, a few duff players but he so got right the coach, so I hope he see past the bright lights and media glare & NOISE. Keep it Norwich City. Smith or Knutsen, sorry Frank take your £66 million (Reported) and live well, unless you want to buy a couple of good players for the club hahaha
This: Smith ticks more boxes for me in just about every dept, Premiership, Championship, having money not having it. Promotion,. Dog fighting. He has a lot more to prove, he looks and sounds he is strong character who will roll up his sleeves. He was in a situation at a club with money that will not have the patience nor give the time needed,
Lampard: there is no space for him to bring him Chelsea youth as everyone supposes. We already have Andy O, Kabak, Aarons, Williams, Cantwell, Idah, Sarjent, Tzolis, Rashica. Bring in anymore kids and more and more get alienated from the list.
I suspect you reflect the opinions of many. I would hope Lampard would not view an appointment as an opportunity to develop Chelsea players of the future as many online are opining.
Andy may have hit the nail on the head not caring who it is if we stay up.
Ps. Perhaps/definitely for the more elderly here given he appears to be considerably better off than Delia and Michael if he likes the team like Victor Kiam he could buy the club!
There is no room for Lampard to bring in the youth he would want though. This is a consequence of the summer and something I’ve moaned about for a while. City have a real problem after our summer spend, Lampard won’t be able to add more youth to our ranks….. we need a manager that is going to bring in a new backbone. After relegation, Gibson, Hanley, McLean, PLM and Pukki will know they aren’t good enough for the Premier League at the second time, at least, of asking. But we’ve bought sooooo many youngsters now there is no space for Lampard to repeat Derby or Chelsea….. a new manager must be able to work with what we’ve got…. And there is no more improvement to be had in those older players I mentioned. The only way, tactically, we stay afloat until January is through disciplined, pragmatic tactics. Even if we appoint an interim and accept relegation and go again with KK, I would think that’s acceptable
I agree with all you say MM, except the bit about older players improving. I would shove Hanley to the front.
I think the guy improved a great deal under Farke. Where he was a row Z guy and brick wall destroyer for most of his playing life. After a season with Farke, he learned to read the game better, his passing improved so much . Row Z is needed sometimes perhaps more often than we did. But I hope I am not alone in saying Big Ole Grant did improve. He was more limited than some but he made up for that in other ways. He is what we have got, simple as that.
. Lets be honest on Pukki too Celtic players laughed at us when we signed him, bet they aren’t laughing now, he is getting past the peak now but another who improved.
Sorry, that’s not how I meant. I think Hanley is brilliant, but what I think is he’s at his limits. Unless you play him with someone like Johnny Evans, who could Hanley rather than the other way round, then Hanley is at his limit, which is good enough.
But I don’t think he, Gibson, McLean, PLM or Pukki can improve anymore technically…. And we can’t afford to replace them, so it’s an onfield organisational change that is critical. That’s why Fat Frank is dubious and SW has no clue if KK’s tactical template will match what we have in our squad.
I hope that explains it better?
Spot on. I well may have read it wrong too lolol. I see what you mean. What any coach has what we have, he has got to find the best 11 for his style. Something I don,t think Lampard could do. He has pulled out now anyways. Reckon he will be interested in Rangers as a stepping stone instead of lil Norwich.
I would take Knutsen for his style Smith for his experience and knowledge. Even the old Dortmund manager
Minority of One says
I would be happy with any of the 3 candidates, but think everyone is being harsh on Lampard. Yes he has had a leg up by his standing as a player and the people he knows, but he would still needed to interview, talk the talk and once hired walk the walk. For me that is why I would be pretty happy with Frank.
He did decent jobs at Derby and Chelsea in the short time he was at each. He may forever love Chelsea and one day want to return as manager. That is natural given his time with the club. But he will know he needs to go back better with a body of work that says he’s ready, not just a stop gap whilst under a transfer embargo.
To do that (and lets not pretend that we wouldn’t be a stepping stone for either Smith or Knutsen to a top job) he will know he has to have some sustained success. Keeping us up would be a good start, staying up and playing decent football even for 1 more season after this has to be seen as hugely beneficial to us and him. If a top job is then forthcoming then our DofF (Perhaps Adams by then) will have the next recruit lined up. It’s how it works for us as a mid sized club.
If of course we get relegated as seems likely, he like the others will likely stay if we’d keep them and try to help us get back to the PL. This still leaves him needing to prove himself and that should be adequate motivation.
He wouldn’t come here as some glorified Chelski youth coach, it’s his reputation, his neck on the line, so he would use his connections at Chelski I am sure, but to good effect to get the best loan options to enhance the team he needs firing. Our youth will come through if they are good enough. It’s not like we don’t already use our loan allocation to the maximum anyway.
He comes with a high profile and more relevant experience than Knutsen who surely would need a significantly longer adjustment period. Is anyone else wondering why a guy of 53 has never seen the light of day outside of the Norwegian leagues? Everyone is banging on about a big win over Roma but the general level at which he has been plying his trade means he would be a huge gamble.. Has he perhaps not pulled up too many tree’s thus far in his managerial career? So perhaps Frank would be a better appointment than the Norwegian would.
Some seem excited by Knutsen but he is pretty much an unknown and the biggest gamble of the 3 in my book, an exciting one given his style of football, but a huge gamble none the less. Those thinking he might be a longer term project will I fear be disappointed, If he is willing to come, when a league title is about to be sealed and the team still in Europe, suggests someone who will jump at an opportunity at the drop of a hat and leave us in a heart beat if things go very well.
As for Smith it’s easy to pick holes in his career to date, as the article mentions, much like Daniel he seems to have been lost since the loss of his star man and was pretty lucky at Villa. I would not object to having Smith either though. He will be very motivated to prove Villa wrong, he was good at Brentford, and has experience in the EPL and EFL if needed.
I have maybe looked at negatives a bit much but that seems to be in keeping with everyone else, we need to come together behind which ever of the 3 good candidates we appoint.
p.s. I still wonder if Webber has a Rabbit to pull out of the hat that hasn’t even garnered a mention so far, wouldn’t that be something!
Andy W says
I think Lampard would be a good choice. He was a world class player with high standards and a good understanding of the game, and what it takes to be successful. His appointment would also link back to John Bond and Ken Brown through his own heritage at West Ham (father and uncle included). His footballing philosophy actually resonates with a lot of what Norwich is and has been, and I for one am not bothered by the media circus that would surround his appointment. Dean Smith probably needs a break from the game before he gets back into the fray. I think Lampard is raring to go and would give us a least a chance of staying up.
Kev O'C says
Please, please, please not Lampard! Totally wrong fit for our club.
Alex B says
A city Pod Caster Chrus Reeves states it has to be Lampard.
Like many I think things have fallen just right for him and his prep school education so good luck in his future roles just not a city.
Sol Campbell once said he was the wrong colour and school if he had been given the same chases he would be England Manager, I disagree with that his outspoken views hack people off.
Privileges in any walk of life needs to be earned and Lampard earned his as a player and so far has looked good in his two Managers jobs but neither has been at a struggling club.
Youth players he is supposed to want from Chelsea are all out of contract next summer and would be possible cheap recruits still trying to build a career not what city needs at this time