Opinion: Ron Saunders, Ken Brown, Dave Stringer and Mike Walker were unheralded - so give Norwich City boss Neil Adams a chance

The new Norwich City manager, Neil Adams, is officially announced at a press conference at Carrow Road. Picture: Denise Bradley The new Norwich City manager, Neil Adams, is officially announced at a press conference at Carrow Road. Picture: Denise Bradley

Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM

If Twitter had been around for years, would Mike Walker have been appointed as manager of Norwich City in 1992?

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Dave Stringer.Dave Stringer.

Come to think of it, what chance would there have been for Ron Saunders, Ken Brown or Dave Stringer?

These four men are among the greatest bosses in City’s history.

But Saunders had a pedigree of short and modest managerial spells at Yeovil and Oxford, Brown had only ever been an assistant manager, Stringer was a youth team then assistant manager, while Walker was promoted from managing Norwich’s youth team (having had the shortest of short spells as Colchester United boss on his CV).

I’m too young to remember the reaction to Saunders’ appointment. But any disquiet probably died down as he settled in and became the first Norwich manager to get the club into the top flight - and threw in a League Cup final to boot.

Norwich Manager Ken Brown holds the Milk Cup after Norwich beat Sunderland 1-0 at Wembley on March 24th, 1985.Norwich Manager Ken Brown holds the Milk Cup after Norwich beat Sunderland 1-0 at Wembley on March 24th, 1985.

However, I can remember how underwhelmed we all felt at the appointments of Brown, Stringer and Walker. We craved a “big name” to take the club forward: we got back-room boys who probably saved the club a few quid in wages.

So what did we get from these “inexperienced” bosses? Success, glory and a whole lot of enjoyment. In fact, arguably the best years of our football supporting lives.

Brown oversaw two promotions, a 5th place top-flight finish and a Milk Cup final win. He was the longest-serving manager in City’s history and a jolly nice chap.

Stringer - who, like Neil Adams, coached Norwich’s youth team to FA Youth Cup glory - was the boss who guided the Canaries to 4th in the old First Division and to two FA Cup semi finals.

Jeremy Goss and Mike Walker after Norwich City's aggregate win over Bayern Munich in 1993.Jeremy Goss and Mike Walker after Norwich City's aggregate win over Bayern Munich in 1993.

And Walker secured third place in the Premier League, before overseeing the remarkable Uefa Cup campaign that included a victory at Bayern Munich.

But the atmosphere was poisonous when Walker was announced as City’s manager in summer 1992.

After Stringer stepped down near the end of the previous season, City had avoided relegation by three points, sold star striker Robert Fleck to Chelsea, and had an average home attendance of below 14,000.

The fans did not want a virtual unknown to guide them back on the path to progress.

At 2-0 down to Arsenal at half-time in the first match of 1992-93, following a tepid performance, people’s worst fears were being realised. Enter Mark Robins, a miraculous turnaround to a 4-2 win and, as the retiring snooker player once said, the rest is history.

If the club had taken heed of the fans’ opinions, Brown, Stringer and Walker may never have got the top job. And Norwich may never have made the marvellous memories that we all treasure.

Yesterday, as fans soaked up the appointment of Adams as the latest Norwich City manager, internet message boards and Twitter were utterly depressing.

Many have already written him off. Many others bemoaned the “big names” that got away - or ran away. Others bleated about feeling “let down”.

But you can’t always bet your house on success from a household name.

Don’t forget, Chris Hughton was welcomed by most fans when he got the job two years ago. He had top-flight pedigree. It was only as he tightened his grip like a python, squeezing the life out of Norwich City, that the tide turned against him.

Bruce Rioch came with decent pedigree, having tasted success at Middlesbrough, Millwall and Bolton and managed Arsenal. But his two years at Carrow Road were below par.

No managerial appointment comes with a guarantee of success. Making such appointments is like betting on the Grand National by sticking a pin in the list of runners and riders while wearing a blindfold.

Adams might fail. But he might succeed - just like the unheralded Brown, Stringer and Walker.

And he’ll have a far greater chance of making a go of it if the social media snipers put away their guns and get behind him.

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