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City’s timing was poor – the next ‘set-piece’ has to be right

PUBLISHED: 07:45 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:03 17 March 2017

Norwich City chairman Ed Balls ahead of the game against Blackburn when he revealed that a new structure would be announced. Picture: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City chairman Ed Balls ahead of the game against Blackburn when he revealed that a new structure would be announced. Picture: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

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As I’ve said many times over these past few years in my column nothing really surprises me in football, but I have to say I was shocked when the news broke that Norwich City had sacked Alex Neil with immediate effect and that Alan Irvine would be for the in charge upcoming games.

Paul Heckingbottom has a drink during a training session at Colney. Picture: Archant LibraryPaul Heckingbottom has a drink during a training session at Colney. Picture: Archant Library

I wasn’t shocked that the board had decided that enough was enough, but more surprised at the timing of Alex’s departure on a Friday evening, after he’d prepared and picked the team for the game against Blackburn and spoken to the press only a few hours before.

The board should have acted on Sunday morning after the shocker at Hillsborough or, at the very latest, Wednesday morning after the Bristol City result, which made it just one win in eight games.

I know there was a board meeting scheduled for Friday which Alex Neil would attend, but could they not have arranged an emergency board meeting earlier in the week? To allow Alex Neil to go into his press conference and talk about his plans for the future and how he was looking forward to the summer and having a mass clearout of players made the club look amateurish at best.

If the club’s decision was to sack Alex Neil because of those things he said in his press conference or what he said in that board meeting last Friday we will never know, but if he was sacked for what he said rather than his team’s under-achievement since October this season then it underlines the lack of footballing knowledge and experience on the Norwich City board.

So what now for the Canaries? We’re all waiting with anticipation for this new restructuring on footballing matters that Ed Balls told us about last weekend.

Whatever this entails, let’s hope it works better than the footballing board the club introduced a couple of years ago as this quite clearly didn’t work, as results and player recruitment has demonstrated.

If the club want to go down the route of appointing a director of football (Roy Hodgson) to overlook all footballing matters and work very closely with the new manager/coach then that’s fine, but the final decision on team selection and transfer targets must be the left to the manager or head coach, as he’s the one who will lose his job if things don’t go to plan.

It was another fairytale evening on Tuesday night at the King Power Stadium as Leicester reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League after beating Sevilla 3-2 on aggregate. The players were slaughtered when Claudio Ranieri was sacked a few weeks ago, with the club just one point above the relegation zone.

However, since Ranieri left, Leicester have won three from three, scoring eight goals in the process, and they now sit three points above the bottom three and now face a mouthwatering quarter-final tie against one of Europe’s elite clubs. Perhaps it wasn’t such a shocking decision by The Foxes’ owners to call time on Ranieri’s reign.

Paul Heckingbottom brings his Barnsley side to Carrow Road tomorrow and they are in worse form than Norwich, having won just one of their last nine games. Nonetheless, a win would put them level on points with the Canaries. I played with Hecky while he was at the club from 2002-03 and hit it off with him as soon as he walked through the door at Colney.

Paul has done a fantastic job up at Oakwell, winning promotion via the play-offs last season and they have maintained that good form for long periods of this season.

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