Our writers give their verdicts on David McNally’s latest thoughts on Norwich City and Chris Hughton
12:48 16 February 2014
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Michael Bailey, Ian Clarke and David Powles give their thoughts on the situation at Carrow Road.
McNally is right to address City’s situation, but fans’ reaction is key
Some Norwich City fans have always worried about the role of their club’s boardroom, whoever is in charge. Yet the situation with the current incumbents is a little different due to one factor – their track record.
Admittedly, harking back to the Canaries’ past could be no more useful than Manchester United fans believing their current side can replicate more than 20 years of success without the figure that led them to it. But the fact at Carrow Road is chief executive David McNally and chairman Alan Bowkett – along with their boardroom colleagues – have earned the faith and trust of City fans.
That’s not blind faith. Far from it. More belief in the fact they know what they’re doing, and have proved it for pretty much all of their duration stewarding the club.
Which takes us to the here and now; a ticket that can also be described as their toughest time at the club. That’s no mean feat either, given City were threatened with administration when they arrived in 2009 and the recovery since took a miraculous effort.
Same with keeping Norwich stable following Paul Lambert’s escape – something for which Chris Hughton seems destined to never be fully appreciated for.
Let’s set the rules – whatever your expectation at the start of the season, what is clear is things haven’t gone to plan.
The targeted top-10 finish has been public knowledge for some time. As winter approached, residing for the rest of the campaign in top-flight midtable obscurity was seen as just a few games away. In truth, one run of form and these are still attainable. But after a perceived distance from the situation, a number of fans have wanted to hear from the boardroom. Through McNally’s interview, they have got the wish – the next question is whether they liked what they heard?
The Wes Hoolahan and January transfer window lines always make good reading – but in truth, have little to do with securing the Canaries’ survival. Wes was always going to be reintegrated once the January window closed.
It’s two other lines that stand out.
Firstly, the fact there is no guarantee for Hughton over his future. Results will dictate it – but clearly there is still a big chance City could have a different man at the helm before the season is out.
The statements are honest from McNally – and it will be interesting to see how Norwich fans react to them. Does the door being open to change mean fans will want to push at it when things go wrong – rather than the knowledge that what’s here is what stays, and so everyone needs to be in it together?
And more interesting is City’s wage bill.
The summer spending on transfers was huge for City fans, and not to be ignored in comparison to the rest of the Premier League.
But it has now been revealed City finished 11th last season with the lowest wages in the Premier League – presumably to underline a remarkable achievement.
And this season, City are set to still be in the bottom three regarding wage payers – which given the club’s stable financial state, would beg the question whether there was any more room for manoeuvre to ensure survival wasn’t risked on a similar remarkable effort?
It leaves you hoping that after two phenomenal efforts since returning to English football’s top table, the Canaries aren’t about to get what they’ve paid for.
Ultimately it’s down to the players to get us out of this mess
I’m convinced that all Norwich City fans will go forensically through every single word which David McNally said yesterday.
The chief executive has gone very quiet as the season has gone on.
It isn’t too long since he was a prolific tweeter who held court with supporters on a near daily basis.
He was remarkably honest and deserved great credit for being so open.
All of a sudden last November McNally took himself off the social network and silence broke out.
It was never totally clear why it happened but it seems it was in the light of abuse after the 7-0 drubbing at the Etihad.
A few weeks ago the chief gave an interview to Radio Norfolk but we have heard very little more from him until he spoke to our City writer Paddy Davitt.
In the light of the support the board has given to Chris Hughton while most of the other Premier League strugglers have sacked their bosses, I had expected McNally to say there would be no change before the end of the campaign, whatever the results in the coming games.
Clearly fans will never stop having their say (and we are all entitled to our opinions) but if there had been unequivocal backing, it probably would have taken some of the wind out of the match by match debate about whether the manager should stay or go.
McNally was clear to say that the buck stops with CH and that in a results business, results matter.
He gave no guarantees and rather than silencing the discussion over Hughton’s future, I think the weekly furore will hot up and up.
What happens if we get a stuffing by Spurs? Will that be a trigger? And if things go wrong against a Lambert-inspired Villa...? I could go on.
Hughton has endured as much criticism of a City boss as I can remember for some time and I previously made it clear he should have been replaced.
He got things virtually spot on against Manchester City last week with his formation but I feel the substitutions led to that gut wrenching defeat at West Ham.
To me the key to City staying at football’s top table or falling in to the Championship isn’t now about McNally or Hughton - it is about the players.
They are the ones who miss the chances or make the mistakes and earn every single penny of their huge wages in keeping us up. So Bassong and Co it’s over to you.
A statement of support from the chief, but also a veiled threat?
“We’re still backing Chris Hughton BUT ...”
If I were to sum up my own take on David McNally’s latest comments in just six words these would be them.
It’s not quite the dreaded vote of confidence (which we all know actually means the opposite and normally leads to a sacking within three games), but it might not be far off.
McNally and the board clearly currently aspire to the notion there is no guarantee that bringing in a new manager leads to new manager bounce.
And the statistics back them up, a new manager might bring that initial win, but it doesn’t often last.
However, what this doesn’t appear to be is a complete and utter statement of support for the gaffer.
McNally says Hughton has been told to ‘get our club moving up the table, and quickly’, that’s the BUT as far as I’m concerned.
What only a few people (namely the board) will know is just how quick is quickly?
Is it a Spurs defeat in our next home game?
Or perhaps the board would accept that, but not further defeat a week later away at Aston Villa - managed by Paul Lambert of course.
Mercifully, one position Norwich still has not found itself in this season is amongst the dreaded bottom three.
We’re close, but in his time at the club Hughton has always maintained the knack of keeping Norwich City’s head above that very choppy water.
I wonder if that would be the moment the board’s patience would run out? If that was the case it may of course be too late for any new manager to make a difference to fortunes on the pitch.
Hopefully we won’t have to find out.
Supporters quick to have their say on big interview
City fans took to Twitter to give their reaction to David McNally’s comments - here is a taster of what they had to say.
“McNally did as expected. No value to be had in replacing Hughton now. I believe he’ll keep us up but think he should go in the summer.”
“McNally would have been better to say nothing, all he has done is make everyone angry again. Pointless interview”
“What was the point of that interview? McNally and the board will have no answer if we go down #notgoodenough”
“Good questions asked and I think DM gave some very good answers, he also made some interesting observations. #hughtonin”
“McNally called us a huge club, he’s got something right”
“What was the point of the David McNally interview? “If errors didn’t happen we would’ve won that game.” That’s reassuring then.”
“I bet you once we go down, McNally will still say Hughton is the best man for the job. I’ll put £50 on that!”
“The good news from my perspective is that my boss is reasonably happy with the manner that we have been hitting icebergs recently”
“So... would it be reasonable to take the view from the McNally interview that Hughton is on the brink?”
“Non committal answers for every question posed to McNally. Can’t say I would ever expect anything less. Seems like it’s CH to the end”
“David McNally- “we were in the market for a number 10” You’ve got one sitting on the bench David!!”
“Only thing this interview tells me is that David McNally would make an incredible politician”
“This break was #ncfc’s last chance to make a change without it affecting Prem games. We are once again not reacting, It is as of board are blind”
“Good interview with David McNally - top bloke”
“well Mr Mcnally backs him for now so I think fans should be behind him, he’s got to get points, see what happens..”
“Results business Mr McNally says, so how the hell is Mr Hughton still in charge? We need wins not excuses!!!”
“let’s all get behind Hughton. Just wish he would play Becchio, we need goals and he’s desperate for games!! Otbc”
“complete cop out. It’s a results business he says. Yes & 1 league win in 11 should mean bye bye now before it’s too late”