Who will lead Norwich City back into the Premier League?
Norwich City's three-year residency in the top flight is over. With three of their final four games against teams all qualified for next season's Champions League, Neil Adams and his players needed a great escape.
May 15th, 2014
Norwich City’s three-year residency in the top flight is over. With three of their final four games against teams all qualified for next season’s Champions League, Neil Adams and his players needed a great escape. But the Canaries have never been one for miracles and that was left to Sunderland – dead and buried a few months ago – to climb out of the bottom three at Norwich City’s expense. The fight shown – and more importantly the goals scored – by the Mackems in the run-in were both lacking from the boys in yellow and green.
Five games to save City’s season was always going to be too little too late for Adams. Whilst those outside Norfolk seemed puzzled by Chris Hughton’s sacking the only aspect that baffled those who follow City every week was that it wasn’t done sooner. The board’s delay in making a change will be one of many questions they will have to answer as they prepare the club for life in the Championship.
There are those calling for chief executive David McNally to take responsibility for relegation and leave the club. This is a subject that should not even be up for discussion. If McNally takes the blame for relegation then he also takes the credit for dragging the club from the bottom of League One and days away from administration to three consecutive seasons in the Premier League with all debts cleared. There is no better man to have on the board if the club are to make a swift return to the top.
Changes will, however, be required both on the pitch and in the dugout. In a season when many fans boycotted the Player of the Season award by voting for Carlo Nash – City’s unused third-choice goalkeeper – there is every chance of a major overhaul in playing personnel come the start of next season. There have already been noises from the north with reported interest from Celtic in Robert Snodgrass and Gary Hooper whilst you will have to wonder if those with international aspirations such as England goalkeeper John Ruddy and Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer will relish playing in the second tier.
As for those coming in, what Norwich City lack is a real leader on the pitch. As well as scoring goals, Grant Holt was a voice in the dressing room that galvanised and motivated the team. Whilst the goals – and the desire to live down south – left Holt more than a season ago a character like him is vital in the tough world of the Championship. Although an intelligent, articulate and well-liked member of the squad, Russell Martin should not be handed the captain’s armband when the inevitable departure of current skipper Sebastien Bassong becomes a reality over the summer.
In terms of the new Norwich City manager the board have promised a decision this week. The bookies favour Malky Mackay, even more so now the Scot has settled his differences with Cardiff City. I am wary of yet another manager with a Norwich City connection – the club doesn’t need someone who knows Carrow Road inside-out, they need someone who knows how to get out the Championship. Former Canaries Peter Grant and Bryan Gunn both failed as City boss but where Malky differs is his record. Whereas Grant and Gunn had their first taste of management at Norwich City, Mackay has previous experience not only as a manager but one that has guided his team out of the Championship and into the Premier League. All signs point to the former Canary being on the touchline next season and he will have the full support of the crowd – as long as results match their expectations of promotion at the first time of asking.