Life on the Norwich City roller coaster is anything but boring

A worried looking Norwich bench during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
05/04/2014 A worried looking Norwich bench during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 05/04/2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
6:30 AM

There’s never a dull moment at Carrow Road is there? I saw Norwich City described over the weekend as the Premier League’s least entertaining team.

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Let’s hope Neil is not all talk!

So what of Chris Hughton’s replacement? Neil Adams is someone I know well, having clocked up thousands of motorway miles, hundreds of radio commentaries and dozens of in-car quizzes with over the years. It will be surreal to see him on the other side of a microphone at the weekend.

His success at guiding Norwich City to FA Youth Cup glory this time last year got him noticed. I had it on good authority that the inspiring run had convinced the Carrow Road board that they had a potential future manager on their hands.

It’s worth remembering that the two-legged victory over Chelsea in the final was not one built on gung-ho attacking football. In both games, the Canaries’ more illustrious opposition had spells where they dominated possession and Norwich’s youngsters had to dig deep to keep their hands on the trophy.

What Neil did with that team was get the best out of the attacking options at his disposal. The pace of the Murphy twins on either wing and the strength of Carlton Morris in attack were used to good effect. He has just under a week to crack the code which can finally unlock the same potential in our senior pros.

His approach to away games will be fascinating. With seven straight defeats, it’s the form on the road that really has caused City to sink.

Neil knows what those long, late-night journeys can be like after watching a defeat. We’re well versed at keeping each other’s chins up on the A14 after several hours on the road.

Perhaps he’ll get his quiz book out to occupy his troops on the way to Fulham. He has some very good questions and it may be just the sort of distraction they need on such a high pressure weekend. I just hope he can get out his biro and add a new question on the way home:

“Who guided Norwich to a rare win at Fulham just three years after stepping out of the commentary box?”

The last 36 hours should be held up as proof that life on the yellow and green roller coaster is anything but boring.

If a herd of cows had been waiting outside Carrow Road on Saturday they would all have been sitting down by six o’clock. A storm was evidently brewing. Chris Hughton was struck by some bright yellow cardboard lightning as several of those clappers rained down on the pitch, accompanied by loud rumblings of booing from the stands. The forecast for his Norwich City future looked bleak. There were reports of arguments between fans and players and when that starts to happen the point of no return has been reached.

The deep depression which hung over the ground after the defeat to West Brom was reflected in the Director’s box. The Canaries’ top brass sit just behind our BBC Radio Norfolk commentary position and although no one said anything, it was impossible to escape the feeling that the camel’s back may just have been broken by Morgan Amalfitano’s early goal (below) and Norwich’s fruitless search for an equaliser. Some very important brows were significantly furrowed as we packed away our broadcast equipment for another weekend.

The most alarming aspect of Saturday’s game for me was that it was all so familiar. Go back to September and Norwich’s 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. We conceded a soft first-half goal, huffed and puffed, but never really looked like grabbing an equaliser. When it happens in your fifth game of a new season it can be put down as a work in progress, but when the same problems remain evident in match number 33 you have a big problem. It is that inability to affect change which caused the ultimate dugout downfall of Chris Hughton. Ironic that in a county with a supposed fear of great change that a manager who was so constant in his outlook should end up being so unpopular.

The fact the electronic scoreboard at the top of The Barclay wasn’t working all afternoon suggested that somebody might have told the operator that free-scoring Liverpool would be the ground’s next visitors and the thought of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Co running riot against a beleaguered City defence had been enough to send him for a lay down in a darkened room.

It was predictable that Norwich City’ decision to act five games before football’s summer holidays would be slammed by the wider Premier League public. If West Brom, Sunderland or Cardiff were making similar calls now I’m sure we’d all be joining in with the collective arm waving and teeth gnashing about unfair it all is. However, those who have actually been watching Norwich City play lately will understand why Grand National weekend felt like the right time for a gamble. There’s a convincing argument to say that sticking would have been braver than twisting. Norwich probably only need one more win to ensure another season of Premier League football and if the board feel a breath of fresh air is more likely to lead to it they had no choice but to act, regardless of what the calendar and fixture list say.

Despite Carrow Road’s cardboard shower on Saturday, no one wanted Chris Hughton to fail. His players had, until three days ago, routinely delivered on ‘must win’ occasions, which proves there is enough potential in that dressing room to keep us up. The ringing endorsements from Darren Huckerby about Hughton’s active interest in the club’s academy and from the dozens of Norwich supporters towards whom the now ex-boss was never short of time, pointed to a formula that everyone desperately wanted to succeed. The mood changed terminally on Saturday and there was no longer enough to doubt to give Hughton the benefit of.

14 comments

  • I don't think we should forget the potential effects of Caulderwood and Trollope in all this. They were the defensively-minded trainers and yet our defence was often embarassingly inept, adding pressure to the front line, who didn't seem to have a plan A let alone a plan B. All the rumours coming out from the club suggested the players didn't like those two, and they didn't seem (at least to me) to be very effective. Perhaps Chris Hughton was too nice to get rid of the rest of his team?

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    Stevie B

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Good article. The key point for me is about defeating Chelsea in the 2-leg final. “What Neil did with that team was get the best out of the attacking options at his disposal.” That is what we have been crying out for all season.

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    Swiss Canary

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Good Article summing it up perfectly. Nobody truly dislikes hughton and think it was clear to see he was trying his best but it just wasnt working out. I compare it to Peter Grant. I was lucky enough to be able to speak to Peter Grant on an extremely regular basis and when it came to talking sense about football , ive never met someone who spoke so much sense. Sadly though it never worked out for Peter either, but credit to him he held his hand up and admitted as much and walked away to give the club time to try save themselves. Hughtons no different in the sense that he truly knows his stuff when it comes to football and is a top bloke, but sadly when it comes to translating that onto the pitch and to his players it just doesn't click. If Mick Dennis is to be believed he claims he saw Hughton at the Chelsea game last night and Hughton said "he hopes the lads win saturday".....vintage hughton, a true gent to the end.

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    Mattias333

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Good man that Chris Goreham. A friend of mine who works for the Beeb on national TV was listening to his commentary on Radio Partridge one day. Said he was as a good a football radio commentator as any on 5 Live, if not better. He writes a good article too, and, like Double D, I thought he did us proud when standing up to the national pundits on 5 Live on Monday night. I'm not prone to applauding journos but CG is ok. Kudos Chris.

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    User Removed

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Matt, your comments are spot on as usual. I am sure CH will move elsewhere and be successful but for some reason he just was not the right fit for NCFC. Getting the mixture right has always been very difficult for managers, they are often able to work wonders with an existing group of players they have taken over but then cannot build a new team to suit their style. Mike Walker was a prime example here at NCFC but he failed at Everton. All we can hope it that Neil Adams is able to get the best out of our current team and keep us up, then we will see how good he is at finding future stars to play the way he wants, OTBC.

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    TrevorKeith

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Still believe my initial statement on Hughtons appointment. I always said that after the attack attack tactics of Lambert fans would eventually turn on Hughton as it was so different to what we'd become use to. While it turned out I was correct, it was worse than even I had imagined as I assumed we'd continue to improve but fans would just get angry with the style of footy. It turned out fans got angry with the style and the awful results sadly and it just didnt work out and snowballed as predicted. I only based my opinion on what happened with Newcastle & what family members who are birmingham fans told me. Hopefully Adams turns out to be that happy medium between Lamberts attack attack attack stuff the defending to hughtons defend defend defend score from a set play.

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    Mattias333

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • While I didnt personally hate Hughton, I just felt his methods were not what was best for NCFC in taking us forwards, I did have major issues with Colin Calderwood. I will never forget a friend of mine who was at Uni in Nottingham and took to attending games while up there. He told me they had this striker called Grant Holt who Calderwood persisted in playing on the right wing. Madness he said! Holt struggled to score goals and moved on. Later in life of course Holt went on to become an NCFC legend who maybe was punching above his weight (boom boom) but with the right manager was scoring on the regular for NCFC in one of the best leagues in the world. Mysteriously HughtonCalderwood arrive and his goals, (along with other overachievers like Steve morison) dry up and he becomes the scapegoat of some and eventually is left with no choice but to want out of the club he was a legend at and captain at. Fast forward months and NCFC purchase two proven predators for big money and they fair no better than Holt & Morison. Bit of a pattern dont you think? If more spooky was Hughton deciding to play Elmander on the right wing? Was that choice influenced by Calderwood who choose to play Holt there for Forest? We will never know but personally I never rated Calderwood as a player and even more so as a manager. Misreble, hard to understand on the training pitch (at least on the videos the club put online) and failed as a manager in his own right. Maybe im being harsh but im exceptionally happy Calderwood (maybe more so than Hughton) has been removed from the club.

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    Mattias333

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Good article CG and I particularly liked it when you shut Jonathan Pearce up on Five Live on Monday night. His view was that we would have won at Fulham with CH in charge. Those of us who've watched NCFC more than twice this season (he admitted to only seeing us twice) would know that beating Fulham with CH in charge was looking highly unlikely. I'd like to think we now have a chance, but the players need to play to their potential, not to their form.

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    Double D

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • I like your style, Chris Goreham. Endorsing the efforts of a local journo have left me in shock. Shall have to go for a lie down. ;-)

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • TK, it`s a conundrum, isn`t it, that `right fit` thing. I really believed that we had selected just about the perfect fit for our club in Chris Hughton. `Safe pair of hands`, got Shearer`s Shipwreck back to the Prem at first time of asking - and in some style. Seemingly unfairly dismissed, then squeezed a superb season out of Birmingham City, despite the financial constraints there. So what went wrong here? I honestly still believed he was OK up to Nov\Dec last year. Perhaps there was too much hype over our rather fortuitous gift of 11th place last season? So I stopped being a pro-Hughtonite to a Hughton-outer as the evidence accrued. What is commonly (sic) known as `sitting on the fence` is, in reality, just thinking about it.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Top bloke is chris goreham.

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    tonyb

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Lay it on. Or should that be... Goreham is a jewel in a t**d.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • Mattias; Hot off the press, Holty has appointed Calderwood as his personal life-style guru. Fact.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • I don't think many of the fans were happy with the style of play under Hughton but would have accepted the style if it had led to more wins over the season. But with poor results it showed the style was wrong and nothing ever seemed to change except the occaisional extra effort by the players at home. He had to go. I have never left Carrow feeling let down so often in several years of support.

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    goldie

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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