Plenty of pressing issues for new Norwich City manager to sort out
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:18 09 January 2015
As Norwich City close in on appointing a new manager, David Freezer assesses what the pressing issues will be if the new man in the Carrow Road hot-seat is to guide the Canaries to promotion.
Once this week’s off-field acrimony is put to bed and Norwich City have appointed their new manager, the small matter of winning football matches will come back into focus.
The resignation of Neil Adams has sparked a push from the Carrow Road board to reignite the club’s promotion push.
Adams left with City just three points outside the play-offs but 10 points adrift of the automatic promotion places, ahead of a trip to league leaders Bournemouth on Saturday.
If the new man is Hamilton Academical player-manager Alex Neil, then there are plenty of important issues for him to address if he is going to revive those promotion hopes.
Case for the defence – will Bassong be returning to Carrow Road?
Statistically the defensive record of City so far this season reflects reasonably well, as the eighth best defence in the Championship, having conceded 29 goals in 24 games.
Yet looming issues remain over who are City’s first-choice centre-backs.
Russell Martin and Michael Turner had played much of the season but Turner fell out of favour with Adams.
Ryan Bennett returned from an ankle ligament injury recently and partnered Turner in Saturday’s shock 2-0 defeat at lower-level Preston in the FA Cup.
Carlos Cuellar has impressed at times and disappointed at others. Jos Hooiveld (inset) is on a season-long loan from Southampton but has only played six matches so far and Ignasi Miquel, a summer signing from Arsenal, made only his second City appearance in the Preston defeat and was played out of position at left-back.
But the biggest question mark is over the name of Sebastien Bassong.
The former City captain and player of the season has been out on loan at promotion rivals Watford but his 93-day loan is due to expire tomorrow. Will he return to the fold?
The timing of Adams’ resignation has at least allowed his successor plenty of time to act in the January transfer window, should they feel it is necessary.
Goalkeeper John Ruddy and winger Nathan Redmond have already been linked with returns to the Premier League.
Will a new manager decide to cash in on the duo as part of his plans to give the City squad an overhaul or will they be considered key to the club’s promotion chances?
Martin Olsson and Javier Garrido have both had injury worries recently, will a new left-back be needed to ensure the Canaries have a settled defence for the rest of the season?
With Russell Martin being used as a centre-back, Steven Whittaker has no specialist cover at right-back either. Will Martin return to full-back or is that another area that needs strengthening?
Elliott Bennett has returned to the club following a loan spell at Brighton, is he another player who could return to the first team under a new manager?
Whoever the new manager is, they will navigate the pitfalls of the transfer window alongside the club’s executive board of chief executive David McNally, technical director Ricky Martin and chief scout Barry Simmonds.
If Alex Neil is the man to take charge then he could even return to Hamilton for some of the Scottish Premiership club’s young talent.
Teenage left-back Stephen Hendrie in particular has attracted admiring glances and has been linked with the likes of Scottish giants Celtic and Premier League duo Swansea and West Ham, having already made 100 senior appearances.
Attacking midfielder Anthony Andreu has scored 12 goals for the Accies this season, and could be another option.
Consistency in front of goal
Much like in defence, City’s strikers have performed well enough at times, but a settled front-line has evaded the Canaries during Adams’ reign.
Cameron Jerome has scored 12 and Lewis Grabban has managed seven since the duo joined in the summer.
Gary Hooper has scored four goals in 12 games since missing the start of the season through injury but Kyle Lafferty, another summer signing, has failed to score in 17 appearances.
Bradley Johnson has picked up some of the slack, with seven goals from midfield, but will a new manager be able to get more from the City strikers? With 44 goals this season, only Bournemouth and Derby have scored more goals in the Championship, so perhaps scoring goals will not be seen as the problem.
But with 10 points separating the Canaries from the automatic promotion places, making sure a consistent flow of goals continues will be crucial in an upturn in form.
Nathan Redmond’s future
Transfer speculation is not the only issue with Nathan Redmond (inset) that City’s new manager must address when he picks up the reins at Carrow Road.
Few would deny that the England Under-21 international is one of the club’s most exciting talents and, on his day, one of the most potent attacking threats in the division.
However the 20-year-old found himself starting from the bench in three of Adams’ last five games in charge of City, as a more defensive line-up was preferred from the start of matches.
It was a situation that many supporters found frustrating and is unlikely to have helped keep Redmond’s commitment to the club at its strongest ahead of plenty of transfer window speculation.
For some supporters, Redmond has to start every match when he is fit. Others have become frustrated at his ability to trick his way into good positions but fail to find the crucial shot or cross once he had found space.
With six assists in the league so far this season, nine players have created more goals than the former Birmingham man. He has also only managed one goal so far this season, after coming on at half-time to help City win 5-0 against Huddersfield.
Getting more out of the obvious talents of Redmond could be key to City’s new boss inspiring a promotion push.