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Daniel Brigham

Neil Adams - messiah to naughty boy (latest blog)

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Neil Adams'' appointment was met with anger by many Norwich fans.

Daniel Brigham says it is a risky move, but the reaction was over the


In just six weeks Neil Adams has gone from a messiah to a very naughty boy. 


a violent thunderstorm ripped above The Oval cricket ground, where I

was working yesterday, the same was happening on twitter. A deluge of

anger rained down on Norwich''s decision to appoint Adams as permanent

manager. Not good, Ukip-bashing anger, but bad, feet-stomping

life''s-not-fair anger. 

Within a couple of minutes my phone had

buzzed five times. All messages contained swearing. A lot of swearing. A

lot of anger. This wasn''t going well.

The reaction was over

the top. It was as if we''d reappointed Glenn Roeder and announced we''d

be ground-sharing at Portman Road next season. Just over a month ago the

majority of Norwich fans had appeared delighted with Adams''

appointment. Now, like the skies above London, they were apocalyptic. 


I wrote last week, Malky Mackay was the logical choice to give us the

best shot at bouncing straight back. But a big part of me was pleased

that he turned us down. Like a dinner of chicken breast and steamed

vegetables, you know it''ll be good for you, but no one looks forward to

eating it. It has saved us from a season of unadventurous football. 


initial reaction to the news, however, was bafflement. It felt

underwhelming. Adams certainly wasn''t my first choice as manager. It''s a

big risk. Choosing a rookie always is – but let’s not forget that all

managers, successful and unsuccessful, start out as rookies. And, after

Mackay apparently walked away, what decision wouldn''t have been risky? 


Zola, also interviewed, has experienced two failures as a manager. He

would have been exciting, we could have scored some great goals under

him, but his record suggests that after a good start it would have gone


I''ve reliably heard that former Brighton manager Oscar

Garcia was also interviewed. His teams press high and dictate possession

and, in his first season in English football, he got Brighton into the

Playoffs. He would have been a bold, exciting choice. But he''s had only

one season in the Championship. Again, it would have been a risk -

although it seems like a missed opportunity (assuming he wanted it). 


some concern was the disparity in style between the interviewed

candidates. Mackay likes to sit deep and play behind the ball, Zola

likes to attack rapidly through the middle with midfielders ahead of the

ball and Garcia prefers a possession game. It certainly doesn''t suggest

that the Norwich board had a clear vision of what sort of football they

wanted their manager to play next season. 

So instead we have

Adams. In his five games in charge he has shown he wants Norwich to play

on the front foot. He has shown he can adapt the team’s system and has

more plans than Hannibal Smith. He also made mistakes – benching Alex

Tettey and failing to throw on another striker against Chelsea the two

most glaring – but he has stated that he wants Norwich to play an

attractive style of football. If you''re going to take a risk, you may as

well take a risk on someone who will make Norwich entertaining to


While the reaction to the news was dripping with

short-terminism – ''it won''t give the fans a lift'' – Adams'' appointment

suggests a desire from the board to think long-term, to follow Swansea''s

path (who, by the way, have also appointed from within). A manager who

sets his teams up well and has had success with the youth team means

that if – and it is a massive, risky if – it all goes well, a culture of

youth development and attacking football will have been ingrained at

the club. When was the last time we could say that?


there is a World Cup three weeks away. The anger, lamenting and stewing

will subside (at least until the Technical Director is announced...).

While we follow England''s journey in Brazil, Adams will be hard at work,

attempting to bring in the right players to give Norwich the best

chance of a return to the Premier League. 

He may not have been

everyone’s first choice – apparently not the Norwich board’s, not mine,

not most fans’ – but we shouldn''t judge him now. We should judge him on

his ability to go from naughty boy back to messiah again. If he can do

that, then those storm clouds will quickly disappear. 

Daniel Brigham is features editor of The Cricketer. He tweets at @cricketer_dan

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When appointing any leader to a large number of individuals, you never know how it will all turn out.

I think that Adams was always on the short list, from regular comments from McNally, so it really came down to how many of the short-list did not appeal to the Board as the result of extensive conversations, or rejected an offer on some basis - salary, freedom (Director of Football, etc.), or imposed unacceptable demands.

We shall probably never know who else was on the short-list, or even whether further candidates were added to it.

With a little confidence we may say:

They were determined to be thorough in selection, after the grave mistake in appointing Hughton.

From McNally utterances they were impressed by the way Adams approached the almost impossible task in the final matches - four against top teams not on the beach, and with a squad with two non-striking strikers and an error-prone defence. I suspect that this might have been the main reason, besides his obvious commitment and achievement with junior teams.

I suspect that Adams and the Board both knew that the situation was parlous and was going to need a very large slice of luck. On his side, the club asked and he responded, on the Club side, as they now admit, they had left it too late and it needed a miracle. In the event the team continued their error-strewn way at times, and failed to convert any of several good scoring opportunities. I think that the names "Messiah" and "naughty boy" are misplaced.

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