May 25 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Chaos is the only outcome when you blur the clear boundaries between boardroom and changing room.
Norwich City’s model for success over these past two seasons is based on a simple premise; one reiterated by chairman Alan Bowkett and chief executive David McNally at the club’s recent annual meeting.
Everything the Canaries do off the pitch in terms of generating revenue, streamlining the business, cutting costs, making efficiencies and all the other corporate jargon you associate with trying to balance the books, is designed with one purpose in mind, to assist Paul Lambert’s task in building a sustainable top-flight football club.
McNally has had to take tough decisions during his tenure as chief executive. Norwich remain a club grounded in the community, but with a steely commercial edge necessary to not only survive but prosper in a ultra-competitive industry.
January’s transfer window underlines perfectly that symbiotic relationship. Lambert identifies what he wants to bolster a squad punching above its collective weight in the Premier League this season.
McNally’s job is to try and make it happen on a financial level. To push deals through that make sense on the football pitch and in the profit and loss columns.
City’s hierarchy like to go about their transfer dealings with quiet efficiency. Rest assured plenty of groundwork will have already been undertaken, but don’t expect a flow of information until the ink is dry and any potential new recruits are across the Norfolk border.
That might not do much to feed the media merry-go-round or the internet message boards, but you can’t argue with the policy. Look at the results over the past two seasons.
We’re not party to the inner nuances of the dynamic. Nevertheless, one thing is fairly clear. Lambert has his sphere of influence, McNally and Bowkett have theirs. Mutually exclusive, yet independent. Minimal interference for maximum effect.
Contrast that with the shambles at the club I support, Coventry City. The Sky Blues are hurtling headlong to League One on the pitch. Off it – and it pains me to see it – they are rapidly turning into a laughing stock.
Coventry’s own boardroom seems to have a revolving door attached, through which an endless stream of individuals shuffle through, uttering platitudes to long-suffering supporters and making pledges of fiscal improvement whilst the manager has to rely on more and more lads who have barely started shaving to turn around their declining fortunes on the pitch.
Former chairman Ken Dulieu left the club earlier this week after what was described officially as a ‘gross error of judgement’ in his first week as ‘head of football operations’. Namely to join manager Andy Thorn for the pre-match team talk prior to the recent Championship defeat to Hull and then accompany Thorn and his coaching staff to the home dugout for the match itself.
Thorn has kept a dignified silence, which is a mark of the man, but you can guess what his reaction was when Mr Dulieu wedged himself between the physio and the substitutes.
Just to put this bizarre story in context, here is a man who reportedly ordered himself two sets of training kit with his initials on it for the team’s pre-season training camp in Portugal prior to the current campaign – where he just happens to have a villa in close proximity – and proceeded to join Thorn and the players at their daily fitness sessions.
Could you ever see Bowkett doing something similar as he mingled with Lambert’s squad in Germany last summer? Or McNally arriving at 2.50pm on a Saturday afternoon in the home dressing room at Carrow Road before making his way to the touchline?
I know, I know, it’s preposterous to even contemplate. But it’s happening on a regular basis in the professional game; to a greater or lesser extent. Whether it’s Roman Abramovich’s desire to spend his roubles on grossly over-priced superstars, or Blackburn’s Asian owners professing in the early days of their troubled reign they wanted to attract the likes of Ronaldinho to Ewood Park. Another absurd notion.
‘Dulieugate’ is merely the most overt example of the worst kind of boardroom excess – meddling in football matters you know little or nothing about to indulge what can surely only be some childhood fantasy.
Who could forget one-time Manchester United ‘saviour’ Michael Knighton and his ball-juggling act in front a bemused Stretford End more than 20 years ago now.
We all know that Stephen Fry is a dab hand at a voice over, but I doubt even Mr Fry’s talents stretch to step overs for the Snakepit’s entertainment.
With boardroom sideshows on the scale of the soap opera currently unfolding at the Ricoh, it should come as no surprise that the former FA Cup winners are heading south at a rate of knots.
Norwich supporters need no history lessons on the whims of figureheads from the past.
Thankfully, the club is now built on more solid foundations these days.