Some clarity required over direction Norwich City are heading
PUBLISHED: 10:23 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:42 17 January 2017
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We thought Norwich City's season had already reached a natural low point but the Canaries have an uncanny ability to limbo underneath any pole the Championship can put before them.
Losing to rock bottom Rotherham, suffering a fourth red card in six away games and ending the afternoon with only one fit and available central midfielder who is one booking away from a ban himself is a catalogue of catastrophes barely seen since Frank Spencer was a regular feature on primetime television.
It’s become clearer than ever that a new cunning plan is needed at Carrow Road and, more importantly, that those boardroom Baldrics tell us what it is.
At the end of last season, after relegation, the general feeling was that the squad was stale and in need of some serious refreshing. Yet at Rotherham on Saturday, once Nelson Oliveira’s Portugese purple patch ended with some pure petulance, the remaining 10 players on the pitch all could have played for City last January. Only the most committed optimist left The New York Stadium feeling that Alex Neil is armed with a squad that is capable of returning to the top flight next season.
The impending departure of Martin Olsson, coupled with others being linked with moves away from Carrow Road, suggests a policy to clear the decks of some of those whose wage packets promise a level of talent beyond 11th in The Championship. If the plan is to replace the higher earners with younger, more hungry characters then this could be a good thing.
It may mean that a realistic chance of promotion this season has to be forgotten about but recent form would suggest that’s quickly slipping away from the grasp of the current Carrow Road crop anyway.
The best transfer deals in the club’s history, from Paul Lambert to Ken Brown and beyond, has been in plucking Steve Bruce, Kevin Drinkell or Grant Holt from the lower leagues.
City’s record of splashing the cash on big money signings is not clever. So called ‘proven’ Premier League talent only arrives at a club like ours on the way down.
Going for broke on Timm Klose, Steven Naismith, Ivo Pinto and the loan of Patrick Bamford in an effort to guarantee Premier League survival backfired spectacularly, although many fans saw it as decent business at the time.
One of the prices of failure was a sizeable pay-off for former chief executive David McNally and if a similar deal was, as seems to be the case, put in place for Alex Neil then it must be remembered that it was agreed against a backdrop of him being applauded round the pitch in spite of that relegation.
There was a genuine fear that this popular highly-rated young manager might leave or get poached by another club so efforts were made to ensure that couldn’t happen.
It’s not trendy to say this but I’m actually starting to feel a bit sorry for Alex Neil. His post-match interviews are becoming increasingly terse as he tries to make sense of what his squad of pre-season promotion favourites are delivering.
Most managers are put out of their misery long before they get a chance to lose nine out of 14 league games. Before and after each match Neil sits and explains his thinking to those of us in the press. Be assured that tactics, team selections and other football theories are all discussed in detail between manager and media on at least a twice-weekly basis. It’s hard to think of new ways to ask and answer questions about the malaise that has set in during recent months.
If Alex Neil is still the man for the job in the eyes of Jez Moxey, Ed Balls, Delia Smith and the rest then he needs some help. Not necessarily on a match day but in getting the message across to the fans as to what the future direction of Norwich City Football Club entails.
If there is a plan then tell us. Supporters may not like or agree with everything they’re told but if the communication stream between club and fans does improve, expectation levels can be adjusted accordingly. If not, anger in the stands will rise just as quickly as Norwich’s slide down the Championship table.
It was hard to begrudge Norfolk duo
As hard as it was to see Norwich City lose at Rotherham at the weekend, it was impossible not to feel a little bit pleased for two of the architects of their downfall.
Having watched Paul Warne grace Trafford Park on many occasions during his days with Wroxham, I have closely followed his Roy of the Rovers journey into professional football.
An infectious character, Warne was good enough to join us on BBC Radio Norfolk for a live interview just two days before the game and lift the lid on how he became the league’s most reluctant manager.
The Rotherham interim boss talked in candid detail about the frustrations of dealing with agents, players and a club so far adrift at the bottom of the Championship.
The Millers’ win was sealed by a header from Tom Adeyemi. A promising Norwich lad who was talked about in hushed tones by those who saw him in the City youth ranks as a teenager.
He made his debut in League One, in that ignominious 7-1 loss to Colchester to be precise when he was given a baptism of fire as a 59th-minute substitute when the scored was already 5-0, but successive promotions meant the club progressed too quickly for the midfielder to become a first team regular.
Adeyemi’s performance of gritty determination on Saturday underlined what’s needed to succeed in the unforgiving Championship bear pit. I could start talking about the benefits of having young, hungry talent in your squad here but that would mean repeating myself.