Following relegation from the Premier League, Norwich City will find themselves in amongst an almighty battle to re-enter the big time next season. The Championship is arguably more competitive than England’s marquee competition, and Norwich will hope that they are not sucked into it for too long.
Their first piece of notable business since their torrid last season has now been completed, in the shape of their appointment of Neil Adams as permanent manager. Adams had initially stepped into the role following the club’s bizarre decision to sack former boss, Chris Houghton, with 5 games left to play last year. Adams secured just one point from the fifteen that were available to him, and City finished in the bottom three. However, it should be noted that 4 out of 5 of the games that Adams oversaw were against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal – the Canary’s run-in was truly tougher than tough!
However, the upgrading of Adams from caretaker manager to full-time boss still seems an unusual step to take. Initially, the appointment will certainly be met with disdain by the club’s usually tolerant fans, as David Mcnally, Delia Smith and the rest of the board will be accused, once again, of showing a lack of ambition.
Around the time of the Premier League’s conception, Norwich were amongst some of the top teams in Britain – a Jeremy Goss volley to knock Bayern Munich out of the European Cup is particularly well-remembered in East Anglia – but now, they are just another mildly successful team, flitting between the leagues. The fans at Carrow Road do not expect to be playing in the elite competitions just yet, nor is there a particular ‘big club syndrome’ within the stadium, but there is a calling for Norwich to stand up and be counted, and Neil Adams does not quite answer that call…
He is a young manager, and until now he has enjoyed success. Having spent the majority of his career at the Canaries, he took up coaching roles in their youth set-up upon calling time on his playing career. He initially presided over the U14s side, and later became coach of the U18s. His proudest moment to date came at the end of the 2012/2013 season, when the young Norwich side fought off Chelsea in the FA Cup Youth Final, to claim the prestigious trophy.
Success with the schoolboys does not make a senior manager though, and fans will remain dubious as to whether his appointment to the top spot was the right one. There isn’t too much that can be drawn from the games for which he took charge last season: The losses against Liverpool, United and Arsenal were expected, the loss against Fulham was a big disappointment but it came within days of his assuming the manager’s role, and the draw against Chelsea was an encouraging, albeit fruitless, point. And that is why the move seems like a big gamble.
Not only is it a risk though, it will also be seen as a missed opportunity. Ideally, the fans would have been looking for the club to make a statement of intent. There had been an excitement around the city regarding who would get the job. Whilst names such as Di Matteo, Malky Mackay and Tim Sherwood had been thrown around, the decision to stick with Adams is an awesome anticlimax.
The disappointment was almost doubled due to another managerial reshuffling that had occurred earlier that day. When Neil Lennon stepped down as Celtic boss, it appeared that the much-decorated Northern Irishman could well be on his way to the club. He had previously been linked with Norwich, particularly following the departure of Paul Lambert in 2012. However, hopes were very quickly dashed as the Canaries named their man later that afternoon.
In truth, there is little to suggest that Adams will not succeed at Norwich City, only time will reveal that. However, his appointment will be met with a scepticism that can only be turned around with a successful transfer window, and a realistic promotion push next year!