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Michael Bailey: Is this the blueprint for a brighter future at Norwich City – and the names they should be lining up for their new sporting director

PUBLISHED: 19:20 16 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:11 17 March 2017

NCFC Annual Report 2016. Chairman Ed Balls and finance director Steve Stone.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

NCFC Annual Report 2016. Chairman Ed Balls and finance director Steve Stone. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A week is a long time in football, so the cliché goes – but that doesn’t stop some weeks being longer than others.

The days of a chief executive running the show at Norwich City are over for now. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesThe days of a chief executive running the show at Norwich City are over for now. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

My column last week laid bare a lot of questions for Norwich City to ponder as they sculpt their future. Clearly those words had no bearing on what happened next, but that hasn’t stopped Carrow Road being the centre of another seismic change in the Canaries’ direction of travel.

Alex Neil’s time is done, and we will always have Wembley. As for his replacement, they will be the headline-grabber. It will also be at least second on the City board’s to-do list for a few days yet.

If I may be so bold…

THE BOARD: Piecing together what we will get before kick-off on Saturday will start with the business. Interim chief executive Steve Stone is primed to continue in the role, but without the constraints of a title that has raw connotations from how David McNally ran the show – and how Jez Moxey didn’t. Make Stone your MD and the managing director can do exactly that, away from the football intricacies and idiosyncrasies.

THE MODEL: That just leaves the football framework, where all the signs point to City attempting to recreate a model Southampton have used to such wonderful effect since both sides scrapped their way out of League One just a handful of seasons go.

Their first-team and academy structures work in tandem. Long-term recruitment and managerial planning is their strength. The change of head coach has become a regular event on a par with making any new signing. The infrastructure of the club is robust enough to both deal with there being a change – and critically, making the right change.

THE FOOTBALL CHIEF: For City, naming their new manager or head coach will wait. That appointment almost arguably becomes something more short-term by its very nature in the new structure. It’s the role above it – City’s new sporting director – that will have the club’s fortunes in the long run inextricably linked to its success. A job that exists at other clubs, and the following names should help you piece together what will be expected of whoever takes on the role on at Norwich.

DAVID MOSS: Ex-Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton may have been an option for City until he became Celtic’s new head of recruitment. That appointment thrust David Moss as the first name linked with the Carrow Road vacancy. Celtic Park’s head of development scouting has a proven eye for unproven talent – a desirable recruitment angle for those at Norwich.

PAUL MITCHELL: Spurs’ head of recruitment followed Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton, but dealing with chairman Daniel Levy and the constraints of his role reportedly left the young and highly-respected Mitchell serving his notice during January’s transfer window. He has now left and was linked with Glasgow Rangers’ director of football vacancy last week.

ROSS WILSON: And you thought management was a merry-go-round. Mitchell was only linked with the Rangers post once Wilson turned it down, opting to stay at Southampton – where the 34-year-old has played a major part in the Saints’ success as director of recruitment and scouting. Wilson didn’t fancy taking up a role in Scotland.

STUART WEBBER: The ex-Wolves man has been head of football operations at Huddersfield since 2015. He was key to David Wagner’s arrival, opening up Huddersfield to more continental recruitment while balancing their squad for Championship life. He took over from Wilson, when he left to join Southampton.

MIKE RIGG: Fulham’s chief football officer “cordially” parted ways with the Cottagers in December. He had been head of talent identification at the FA under Dan Ashworth, as well as a technical director at Man City and QPR. Slavisa Jokanovic was his appointment. And yes, he’s also been linked with the director of football vacancy at Ibrox.

RICKY MARTIN: Internal promotions have been Martin’s recent domain, to the derision of some. Many lament what he has done to warrant them, yet several of the above names have had similar journeys – and have aired their vision in public. A lot of Martin’s current role may well translate into what City want from their sporting director – but the City board only has eyes for an external appointment.

ROY HODGSON: It would be remiss not to mention the former England manager and his friendship with City’s majority shareholders. He certainly has the contacts and knowledge, and it may yet secure him some sort of consultancy role – but what City are seeking stretches beyond the energy Roy could bring.

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15 comments

  • The Smiffs may as well go to Baldric for a plan as his is likely to make more sense.

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    Harman

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • Young Michael has missed out Dubai Canary, who put himself forward for CEO on another board. How remiss of him , Go Dubai.

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    wiven

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • Someone at Carrow Road is trying to make a name for themselves by tinkering and appearing to have found an ingenious way of improving the fortunes of a club that has become entwined in the corsette of Delia Smith. This is just change for change sake and will not improve things one little bit.

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    brereton

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • The sooner this Club is sold to the right investor the better. The existing Board have clearly lost the ability to move the club forward and lack the experience and investment needed to sustain top level football. Time she moved back into the kitchen or retired.

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    dave123

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • You can have whatever blueprint you like but unless the right people are put in place to achieve its objectives it will remain just that: a plan. Bad planning and bad decisions have haunted this club in recent years. Indeed they have become an unwanted hallmark.

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    malaga flier

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • Dan - "We are not willing to listen to offers" means there have been offers. Otherwise they would say, "there haven't been any offers" to make their life easier. You wouldn't go through all this grief for nothing. Your theory makes no sense. Its also good to see its only taken us 7 years to cotton on to what saints have put in place, but I guess that's just a paperwork thing, hey Dan? The process has been slowed down by Delia befriending a fawn and having to defeat the evil snow witch.

    Report this comment

    JimBob

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • Most of the clubs listed by urban have wealthier owners. And Leicester acted when relegation looked certain. So did Swansea. We gave our failure an improved deal. Now we are being blinded with science while other champ clubs appoint a new manager to assess over the remaining games what needs fixing. Clear out the deadwood? Fat chance

    Report this comment

    Linc's too

    Friday, March 17, 2017

  • I must say that I am confused by the article. Is this because it is just a supposed blue print, a leak or just wishful thinking? Will me see 1 person man managing the football side and being responsible basically coaches at all levels to coach and run teams? Will the same person then take the wishlist of wants and get rid ofs, taking it off the shoulders of the team manager? Are we going to see more a committee team running the football, if so camels spring to mind. However it could give more flexibility, time will tell I guess. I see "none of the above" is still missing from the poll.

    Report this comment

    manbythesea

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • The owners haven't refused investment. Investment hasn't been forthcoming. As for those clubs you've listed, I wouldn't regard many of them as small, or smaller than Norwich come to think of it.

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    Dan

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • @Armchair fan: "A dip in results . . . a long time to show fruit". In that case it's the wrong structure. The first priority must be to stop the rot and then start to regain some forward momentum. If we finish lower in the Champ next season than this, it would signal failure. An instant return to the Prem might not be possible, but we should at least target a top six finish. But your comments raise a fundamental question. What's the ultimate aim of this restructuring? Where in the football pyramid is it intended to take us? Why are we being overtaken by so many clubs of a similar size or smaller, including Watford, Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull, Leicester, Stoke, Swansea, and now Brighton and Huddersfield? I think we know the answer. Money isn't everything, but while the owners refuse to consider new investment we will continue to lose ground and restructuring will be an exercise in futility. This is the 21st century but we're stuck in the 1990s.

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    urban seagull

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • "Is this a blueprint for a brighter future?" In itself, no. The success of this or any other restructuring will require a significant change of outlook by the owners, putting football success ahead of their desire to hang on to control of the club. We've seen Delia dig her heels in over the past six months, so such a sudden and complete transformation would be a major (and very welcome) surprise, but I'm going to suspend judgement until we see what actually happens.

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    urban seagull

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • There will probably be a dip in results before the long term benefits show through, during which time the 'Pathetics' will have a field day. Clearing out the dead wood from the squad and integrating replacements will take a log time to effect, and a long time to show fruit. 'Rome' will not be built (or should it be re-built) in a day.

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    Armchair fan

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • Bear with me...In my job lots of the Save our Sundays mob like secondhand planning, target display boards and lots of child centred learning. Except research shows that these methods have very, very little impact on children's learning. You need to teach to the gaps. So why do a lot of teachers, in positions of responsibility do it? It's a comfy closed mindset. Great irony there... Football lets me escape from these little Britainers. But then all of of a sudden things look familiar. We don't need a manager or a CEO. We need a club with a sporting director and a head coach - another trendy thing like child centred learning with little evidence to support it. When has this ever worked elsewhere in Britain? Wasn't the problem that Alex Neal was a head coach, with others buying the players for him? Surely evidence says this doesn't work? God I feel ill. Division3 and no Mcnarly or Lambert to save us.

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    Imperial Echoes

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • In a word "PATHETIC "

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    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • I thoroughly approve, especially the position of coach being less of a permanent fixture.....replace him, just like you would replace a player who wasn't performing. But the nuts and bolts of how to do that, and at the same time attract someone worth their salt might be a problem.

    Report this comment

    Armchair fan

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

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