Player power did not get Alex Neil the sack at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 10:37 12 March 2017 | UPDATED: 08:17 13 March 2017
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Norwich City chairman Ed Balls rejects the theory deep divisions in the Canaries' dressing room toppled Alex Neil.
Neil was dismissed ahead of Saturday’s 2-2 Championship draw against Blackburn after failing to guide City into the promotion picture this season.
Cameron Jerome’s barbed post-match comments regarding a lack of respect to the management, following last weekend’s mauling at Sheffield Wednesday, triggered the end game, but Balls insisted a clean break was best for all parties.
“Listen as a board or a chairman it is difficult to get into the weeds of that. Some players would have been happy, some not but that holds true at any football club,” said Balls, speaking prior to Saturday’s Rovers draw. “When he arrived he had the respect of the players to do what we did, but the reality is week after week of poor performances take a toll. You only had to look at the pain in the Cameron Jerome interview, as in Russell Martin’s after Brighton. I don’t think it was players losing confidence in the manager. It just wasn’t working.
“There were lots of fans who felt we should have made the change in the autumn. We looked at that hard, often clubs who change manager quickly regret that decision and many fans and media felt in January he could turn this around. Realistically Burton, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City were poor. It is clear the players felt that as well. The qestion we had to ask ourselves as a board was, we need to plan for next season, we need to hit the ground running in the recruitment process and we felt Alex was not the right man to lead that. It was a long term strategic decision not a knee jerk reaction. We couldn’t sit on our hands for a couple more months and then start it in June or July.”
City will unveil the first stage of that blueprint later this week, before stepping up their managerial search.
“We are going to move away from a single chief executive,” said Balls. “We have had a chief executive here for a number of years with David (McNally) and Jez (Moxey) and when we made the change back in January we said we would look at our structures. I am not going to pre-empt the announcement but we want to make sure there is a proper focus on the non-football side.
“This is a big business that employs a lot of people, but we also have to make sure we take an integrated, long term approach to the whole football side encompassing the academy and recruitment. The manager’s job is to run the team, pick and motivate them. The manager is an important part of that but you can’t have a manager who is running recruitment and the academy. Alan (Irvine) is doing that for two games but he will not spend the time worrying about our recruitment for the summer.”
Irvine stated after Saturday’s game he would not apply to replace Neil on a permanent basis.
“I would not stop anyone putting their CV in but Alan knows what the remit is,” said Balls. “Alan has not been asked to become the manager of the football club. We want him to be the interim manager to try and win games while we decide about the long term manager. We will not put a timeline on it because we want to bring in the right manager. We want the new manager and the new structure in place for the close season to hit the ground running. That could be before the end of the season, it could come at the end of the season or early in the summer. It depends on who we go for. Realistically this coming week we will set out the change on the structure and who we bring in as a manager will be part of that structure.”