It was confirmed on Thursday evening that Neil Adams would be kept on as the now permanent manager of recently relegated Norwich City, penning a three-year deal with the Canaries.
Adams bravely stepped in as interim manager after Chris Hughton was questionably dismissed with just five games of a faltering season to go. Tasked with achieving what was dubbed the impossible (keeping Norwich in the Premier League), Adams would be tested against four of the biggest names in Europe, let alone England, as well as facing fellow strugglers Fulham, who have become to be regarded as some what of a bogey team for Norwich in recent years.
Sadly, he lost four out of the five and the Canaries have dived down to the Championship for next season. But in that time (including a credible draw away at Chelsea in the penultimate game of the season), Chief Executive David McNally, joint majority share holders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones, and Chairman Alan Bowkett have all seen enough to place their long term faith in Neil Adams, to lead a promotion charge to fly the Canaries back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Having been unveiled at a press conference held at the Norfolk club today, Adams has spoken about (and been credited on by the board) his intentions to bring the good times back to Norwich City, through attractive attacking football, and blooding the youth team players he is familiar with from his successful time as youth team manager at the club – during which, he won the FA Youth Cup last season.
Attacking football is certainly what the fans will be after, following the much criticised negative tactics of Chris Hughton’s reign. In my opinion, these tactics were perhaps seen as a lot more concerning than they proved to be, considering the success and attacking style of play under the man who held the managerial reigns before him – Paul Lambert.
Lambert’s ambitious and expressive tactics always dealt with in the philosophy of ‘we’ll score more than you’, whereas Hughton’s style of play was much more disciplined and said ‘if we don’t concede, a goal will win it’. And this worked for Hughton’s first season in charge, securing an 11th place finish on 44 points. However in a season that promised so much after the arrival of high profile signings such as Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer from abroad, Hughton’s insistence on the defensive led to a lack of goals, and frustrated players, as well as frustrated fans and a frustrated board.
So Neil Adams’ promise to return to the Lambert-esque days of attacking football will be music to Norwich fans’ ears. But what of the appointment itself? Having taken the best part of two weeks to finalise, what was the hold up?
Come the end of the season, knowing that Malky Mackay had settled his Cardiff issues and was available, fans (including myself) would have expected his arrival imminently. Being a canary legend, as well as possessing vital Championship experience with his successes at Cardiff, it appeared to be an opportunity that went hand in hand for himself and the club.
And what of Gianfranco Zola? He publicly expressed his interest in the role during the week, and whilst also possessing valuable Championship experience from his time at Watford, his well respected status in the game could have been the pull factor to retain key players and attract quality players.
Even the news of Neil Lennon’s departure from Celtic would have made every Norwich fan sit up and listen. The time delay would have made sense, and with McNally having past Celtic connections and the media linking him insistently to the managerial vacancy at Carrow Road, Lennon’s possible appointment began to appear possible. Although the move from Champions league to Championship if his arrival was confirmed would have left a fair few neutrals scratching their heads.
Despite the wealth in competition, Adams has won the battle for the hot seat, simply because (aside from the promises stated earlier), he genuinely wanted the role the most. I believe the job means more to him because as he says, Norwich is his club and he wants to see the return of ‘the Norwich way’ of playing football. It’s a big summer ahead for Adams, and a positive start right off the bat will be required to get some areas of the fans on his side. But appointing a man who has the club at his heart and knows the club from progressing internally throughout the years, there are many reasons why the appointment of Neil Adams as Norwich City manager ticks all the right boxes.
Don’t be surprised to see the Canaries flying high again next season.
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