The scene is becoming a familiar one for Norwich fans. A nice guy, who, after some unfair career setbacks, had come to be held in high regard within the game as a result of his achievements. That is because as well describing outgoing manager Neil Adams, the above missive can just as easily be applied to the previous incumbent, Chris Hughton.
Nice guys are certainly not doing much to distance themselves from their historic propensity of finishing a long way off first place.
Back in April I wrote about Hughton’s sacking – and Adams being installed as, at the time, his temporary replacement – with a sense of relief and renewed hope. It may ultimately have been a vain hope, but it was hope nonetheless.
The decision to relieve the the former Newcastle and Birmingham manager of his position was a long overdue and correct one; as was, I believed, the choice of Adams as successor. Where previously we were hopelessly drifting down the river towards the precipice of relegation, Adams being installed as manager gave supporters something to cling to. A fleeting port in the storm it may have been – despite admirable levels of effort we still succumbed to the drop – but it was the only appointment that gave fans any vague semblance of belief at that stage.
Adams’ installation as manager on a permanent basis came as more of a shock. Again, I could see the benefits of such a decision – good pedigree as a youth-team coach; likes to playing attacking football – but I could, and still do, see reason in the thinking of those supporters who feel that Adams’ long term appointment was a triumph for sentiment over pragmatism.
Ultimately, his period in charge may well end up being seen that way, but I feel that this is unfair.
Adams is a Norwich City legend; someone who approaches the game in the right manner and gives his all. To suggest he did not do the latter during his time in the dugout is disrespectful to a manager who has always been honest when reflecting on all aspects of the team’s fortunes.
He can view his time at the helm with pride.
At points we played some scintillating football that got the collective pulse of fans racing and put smiles back on their faces after an extended period of morose, workmanlike performances. He has unquestionably aided some of our younger players – particularly Nathan Redmond and Josh Murphy – in becoming more well-rounded players and shown a willingness to adapt to the changing scenarios of a match.
We have lacked a canny steeliness in some games, however; an inability to grind out results has cost us dearly as we attempt to gain promotion at the first attempt. This is perhaps down to a lack of experience on Adams’ part, but it is something that he will hopefully learn from and come back stronger. According to the statement released by the club, he will return in July to an, “as yet unspecified role.”
Neil Adams is still a Norwich legend in my eyes. He gave his best and when he realised that maybe that wasn’t sufficient, he stepped aside; ultimately for the good of the side and the wider club. That takes a mental fortitude that some of his former players could do well to adopt.
And so to the possible candidates to replace the outgoing manager.
Sections of the fan base have accused the board of taking the cheap option with the previous two appointments, but one cannot see those in charge paying the required compensation in order to prise a currently employed manager from his existing club.
That said, we are not in a dreadful position. Three points off the playoffs, with a strong squad and consistently high attendances, there are infinitely worse clubs that a manager could take the helm of.
Of the currently out of work managers so far linked, only the names of Oscar Garcia and Uwe Rosler strike me as positive acquisitions. Garcia would improve our – at times awful – possession and ball retention, and despite a downturn in fortunes towards the end of his time at Wigan, Rosler is still a highly promising manager with plenty of experience and a good outlook on the game.
It’s the start of another calendar year, and for Norwich fans the hope is that our second fresh start in less than a year ends on happier terms than the last one did.