Opinion: It may have taken a while, but this is the right decision for Norwich City
15:29 07 April 2014
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It took Norwich City a long while to come to their senses, but they have made the right decision.
Until 8pm yesterday I could not believe that the management team had been able to survive the weekend intact.
We have five games left, we need to win one of them, and if Saturday’s clueless performance was the best we could come up under the previous regime it was hard to see where one is going to come from now.
Fulham – despite all the historical baggage that goes with a trip to Craven Cottage – remain our best bet, but were Team Hughton really going to improve upon the dismal sequence of results seen there from 2005 onwards? No, and that’s why I am delighted that Neil Adams has been put in charge. It was the original draft of this column
I know what the contractual and compensation issues involved might have been with Team Hughton, but it was worth the gamble. Such a pay-out is covered if you stay up for at least another season. Go down and the chances are it might take us another six seasons to get back again.
The mere presence of someone new, with some different thinking, might just make all the difference.
At the very least you’d like to think that anyone else would have a Plan B in place for when things go wrong, and not make a series of like-for-like substitutions.
It was staggering that in a must-win game that we made no half-time changes against West Brom. There seemed to be no change in approach for the second half.
It’s been said before and it’ll continue to be said – that Chris Hughton is a thoroughly decent, nice person, but it was hard to imagine him ruffling too many Canaries feathers at half-time in matches such as Saturday’s.
West Brom was the day when the standard of our away performances was brought to Carrow Road with too many players putting in displays that would see them outclassed in the Championship.
Now, the trouble with going for someone like Adams is that all too many people will think that it is going to be a re-run of the Bryan Gunn appointment.
He got the one necessary win in his first game in charge – but it was what happened after beating Barnsley 4-0 that was the problem.
Adams is a differenmt kettle of fish to Gunn by dint of last season’s FA Youth Cup success – by far and away the best most recent game seen at Carrow Road was the final against Chelsea.
Even the “Stupid” Barrys of this world must be happy with this change. Let’s hope nobody will have to ring up Canary Call to ask: “What do they do in training Neil?”
We might get a Barnsley-like result at Fulham, but even if not we will at least start with a lot more optimism in the away end.
It will certainly be an improvement on the mood on Saturday, which was all too reminiscent of Nigel Worthington’s last game in charge in 2006 against Burnley for many, many reasons.
Once a crowd turns, that’s it, there’s no way back from that. It took some time – away fans’ party apart I could well imagine the annoucement having been made on Saturday at 8.05pm, not last night to try to rescue us from the display of omni-shambles football tactics seen on Saturday.
Because of a complete lack of movement, Joseph Yobo, Sebastien Bassong and Alexander Tettey appeared to spend a lot time simply knocking the ball around between them because the lack of options through no-one ever moving to make space. You almost felt at times that people were trying to hide from the ball. There was all too little invention and creativity on show.
At least we know we will have a completely different approach at Fulham on Saturday.
I don’t think we will be able to go there and play for a draw now.
Had Fulham lost at Aston Villa that might have been the case, but we have to go for it.
And it’s that result at Villa Park that has probably done for us rather than our own failings against West Brom.
If we were going to Craven Cottage eight points ahead of Fulham I’d be a lot more confident about our chances of survival.
But now they’ve got a chance of cutting the gap on us to two points with far more potential wins in their run-in than ours… you just know what is likely to happen. Even a draw would keep us in Fulham’s sights – home wins against Hull and Crystal Palace would be enough to keep them up and send us down.
If we get turned over at Craven Cottage with Adams in charge I cannot think for one moment that anyone will blame him for the position we now find ourtselves in.
With the likes of Neil Lennon or Malky Mackay perhaps being lined up as a permanent replacement for Hughton for next season, depending upon our status, it’s a gamble that was worth taking.
When you see Leicester celebrating their promotion it makes you remember all the great games of 2010/11 – and consider how all that effort was just being tossed aside as we started slipping out of the top flight without a whimper.
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