Norwich City boss Neil Adams can take inspiration from managers of Chelsea, Liverpool and Scunthorpe United
09:00 03 June 2014
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Neil Adams has plenty of doubters to prove wrong as Norwich City manager but DAVID FREEZER believes there are plenty of examples for why the former youth coach can do just that.
The promotion of Neil Adams from under-18s manager to first-team manager has proved a divisive issue amongst some Norwich City supporters – but even the best managers have travelled a similar path.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho started as a translator and coach for Sir Bobby Robson at Porto and Barcelona.
The Portugese self-appointed ‘Special One’ has gone on to win the Champions League twice, the Premier League twice with Chelsea, Serie A twice with Inter Milan and La Liga once with Real Madrid. Those trophies are just part on an incredible CV which includes many more team and individual honours, yet Mourinho had to start somewhere.
It was Benfica who gave Mourinho his chance and began one of the greatest managerial careers in the history of football.
No one is suggesting that Adams, 48, is about to begin a journey of similar success – but who can say he is not? How can anyone write off Adams’ chances before he has been given a chance to prove his ability?
It was Adams who inspired the Canaries to a huge effort to hold the Special One’s Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge towards the end of last season’s ill-fated Premier League campaign.
And it was Adams who led City’s Under-18s to FA Youth Cup glory in the 2012/13 season – something only ever previously achieved by Dave Stringer, who eventually became first-team boss at Carrow Road and guided City to a top-four finish in the old First Division and two FA Cup semi-finals.
It is not just Mourinho who can provide Canaries fans with more hope though.
Manuel Pellegrini, the man who has just guided Manchester City to the Premier League title, also started out as a coach before becoming a manager.
The Chilean was assistant and under-20s coach for his country for two years in the early 1990s, before starting out in club management in Chile.
Liverpool pushed City close for the title and were led to a revival in their fortunes by Brendan Rodgers, a man whose strong coaching pedigree led to him becoming a manager.
Rodgers was forced to retire from playing at the age of 20 and started coaching at Reading. After studying coaching methods in Spain, the Northern Irishman was appointed as a youth coach at Chelsea by Mourinho.
He was eventually Chelsea’s reserves manager before beginning his managerial career at Watford in 2008.
And Rodgers was full of praise for Adams after City pushed his Liverpool side all the way in a passionate effort which ended in a 3-2 defeat for City in Adams’ first game at Carrow Road of his spell as interim boss.
In fact Adams is in good company. No less than 10 of the 19 other Premier League managers were coaches before they were a manager, although several former players have made the step straight into management successfully, including Everton’s Roberto Martinez and Aston Villa’s former Norwich boss Paul Lambert.
While in the Championship, 16 of the 24 managers started out in coaching before stepping up as managers.
But for real inspiration of success following an internal appointment, City fans can look to the fairytale story of Scunthorpe United in League Two. The Iron had been relegated from League One and were facing a battle to retain their Football League status, before an embarrassing loss to non-league local rivals Grimsby Town saw Brian Laws sacked last November.
Assistant manager Russ Wilcox was asked to try and save Scunthorpe – but no one could have predicted what happened next.
Wilcox inspired the Iron to a 28-match unbeaten run, and promotion back to League One, resulting in Sir Alex Ferguson presenting him with a Special Merit Award at the League Managers’ Association awards ceremony.
And Scunthorpe can provide another fine example of a successful internal promotion.
Nigel Adkins had been physiotherapist at Glanford Park before eventually becoming manager and getting the Iron promoted from League Two to the Championship.
Now manager at Reading, Adkins managed Southampton in the Premier League and has proved a success as a manager.
None of these examples prove that Adams will be a success at Carrow Road – but they all prove that Adams could be a success.
Now only time will tell, as described so well by City’s joint majority shareholder Delia Smith recently in an interview with BBC Radio Norfolk, saying: “Whoever you appoint as a football manager will be a risk, nobody has a crystal ball, nobody is going to know.
“The reason we all go to football matches is because we can’t predict what is going to happen. If we could, and did, it would be boring.
“So off we go, it’s a roller coaster but a roller coaster we all love.”