Appointment of Norwich novice Adams appeases nobody
Norwich City, who are 8/1 shots with Coral to win next season’s Championship and seal an immediate return to the Premier League, appointed rookie boss Neil Adams permanently, leaving commentators dumbfounded.
Given the Carrow Road gig five games from the end of the current campaign, he not only failed to preserve the Canaries’ top-flight status, but picked up just a single point after succeeding Chris Hughton.
What has come out in the wash is how lacking in leadership at boardroom level the East Anglia outfit finds itself. Revelations from patron Delia Smith included how a change of manager was mooted in January, but no viable candidates were available – read nobody deemed suitable could take charge without Norwich forking out some compensation.
Adams enjoys club legend status from his playing days and tasted FA Youth Cup glory with the Canaries academy last term. That counted in his favour, but the fact he won none of his five matches as first-team caretaker hardly made him a credible candidate in the eyes of pundits (not to mention punters and bookmakers) to be appointed permanently.
Malky Mackay, ditched so cruelly by Cardiff City and their ruthless investor Vincent Tan over Christmas, was available, and is remembered just as fondly as Adams at Carrow Road. Speculation mounted, meanwhile, that Neil Lennon parted company with Celtic in order to take on the Canaries challenge.
Instead, neither man was attracted to the prospect of rebuilding Norwich to come again. How much did Delia and others do to really sell City to them? Last time the club endured Premier League relegation, a few seasons of mid-table mediocrity in the Championship followed before eventually dropping into League One.
Paul Lambert gave the Canaries their darkest day as visiting manager of Colchester United, but then came in and kick-started a resurgence that saw them regain their place at the zenith of English football. It is a figure of similar standing that Norwich now need, and the jury is very much out on whether Adams fits that template.
He has got the nod from those in the Carrow Road boardroom for now, and is talking tough on the futures of his current squad. “Obviously last year we didn’t score enough goals so that’s a department we need to address,” said Adams. “And there are other players we need to have a look at, to see whether they’re going to be part of the plans or not.”
It looks doubtful that Argentine striker Luciano Becchio or compatriot Jonas Gutierrez, who spent the second half of the campaign on loan at the Canaries, will remain in East Anglia after their outspoken criticism of Adams.
Rumours that flop Ricky van Wolfswinkel will return to the Netherlands with his tail between his legs – Feyenoord are believed to be targeting a cut-price deal – would leave Norwich with one senior striker on their books.
Gary Hooper should get them goals in the Championship, provided the supply into him is much-improved. Does the former Celtic and Scunthorpe frontman need a foil, though? On this season’s evidence, he does.
Can Adams keep hold of Robert Snodgrass, the Canaries Player of the Season, with Celtic looking for a wide forward to replace the departing Georgios Samaras? Will West Ham and Sam Allardyce, cajoled by the ultimatum issued to him regarding the playing style at Upton Park, come back with another bid for Sweden’s attacking left back Martin Olsson?
What of midfield pair Leroy Fer and Alexander Tettey, who both harbour international ambitions to be regular starters for the Dutch and Norway respectively? And, more to the point, how will a little-known man outside of Norwich like Adams attract decent replacements to mount a promotion push?
One thing is for sure; his appointment on a three-year contract raises more questions than answers. Adams’ brief is straightforward, though. This rookie must deliver promotion, and the Canaries are 11/4 to go back up at the first attempt.