The complex, the frustrating and the what happens next at Norwich City?
11:24 20 May 2014
Norwich City writer Michael Bailey surveys the latest public address from the City board, as the relegation inquest continues…
Players tend to produce defining moments on the pitch – but those key figures in other parts of the club have to rely on different arenas. And for Norwich City’s directors, that tends to be in interviews or meetings.
For majority shareholders Michael Wynn Jones and Delia Smith, along with chief executive David McNally, history could yet apply that to their public broadcast on Radio Norfolk Monday morning – depending on what happens at the club over the coming months.
There was the chance for some supporters to put forward questions. Sadly, there wasn’t the chance for everyone – or any other journalist – to join them in the debate. There’s no point hiding the obvious – that strikes me as a huge shame.
It also leaves us to pore over what was said, what it means and inevitably interpreting between the lines.
Firstly, there were the headlines – primarily on where that new Norwich City manager is. After all, he was originally to be appointed by the end of last week. That’s not a dig – it was a deadline volunteered by the club in their own statement the previous weekend.
Why is it taking longer – and why has a new manager arriving in a couple of days on Tuesday night continued into a couple of days this Monday morning? All we know is it’s “complex”, according to Delia. Maybe that’s all that can be said while someone like, say, Malky Mackay takes a bit of time over his options. For example. But there we are. These things sometimes take longer than you envisage. It’s just hard to be convinced the City board of three years ago would have volunteered an initial time line so readily.
In truth, that was about it for the headline stuff. The rest was reflective – and almost certainly a final addressing of last season’s disappointments before all of us look to move on.
And let’s be clear – moving on has to be the goal. It was the hangover from the previous season’s discontent that probably led to relegation this season. Any such hangover in the Championship, and the Canaries will find themselves more akin to the class of 2005-06 than 1985-86.
Wynn Jones wants to see more youth players given a chance – and that’s entirely understandable from any City fan. It’s a silver lining and an excitement.
McNally conveyed the right emotions generated from relegation: the frustration and embarrassment. We all felt and feel it. Delia too. We know she gets it.
But possibly the split comes in January – and Delia’s unshakeable belief that while the board were wrong not to sack Chris Hughton then, there simply wasn’t a candidate to replace him. I’m not so sure everyone shared her view – and arguably, hindsight proved they may well have had someone extremely close at hand to step in. Someone they felt confident enough to give the job to with just five games to go. Sadly football isn’t played with hindsight, like it’s not played on paper.
A common sentiment across some on social media once yesterday’s broadcast was done, was that it was great for the trio of directors to get their word out. And absolutely it beats saying nothing or hiding – especially after such a dispiriting season. Other clubs simply wouldn’t countenance the idea.
At the same time, it’s hard not to think of the praise former chief executive Neil Doncaster used to garner from similar public exercises.
Once he departed, it became a stick to beat his reign with.
Likewise, the current regime achieved their reputation – and arguably, success – by getting on with the necessaries behind closed doors. By being decisive.
It’s a knack they will need to rediscover as soon as possible if next season’s push for an immediate Premier League return is to end in Championship success.
But even with directors, it’s results on the pitch that will decide how their term is viewed – and where their public views and messages will sit in history.