Connor Southwell: Neil Adams has rewritten the football rule book at City

Norwich Manager Neil Adams celebrates victory at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at the Ca

Neil Adams during his tenure as Norwich City manager. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

When Neil Adams walked away from the top job at Norwich City, few expected him to be climbing back up the hierarchy a few years later. 

The widespread view was that Adams was unable to find a consistent tune out of a profoundly talented Championship squad, one that would go on to win the play-off final at Wembley to secure a top-flight return. 

Some may argue that Adams' role in building that squad showcased talents that would later see him build a loans department that was the envy of numerous clubs, and eventually become assistant sporting director. Others may be less willing to put praise at his door.

After Bryan Gunn's ruthless departure back in 2009, there was an acceptance that Norwich didn't go through that process correctly. It left the City legend stinging as he was made to travel back on a train from a training camp in Exeter by himself after being relieved of his duties. 

That ended a 23-year association with a club where he was considered a legend. In retrospect, it's a process those who matter feel could have been handled in a way befitting the service Gunn displayed. 

When it came to Adams' departure, those lessons were at the forefront of the mind of the key decision makers. After all, just a year before he was propelled into interim charge, he was the man who led City's academy side to a historic FA Youth Cup victory.

Adams resigned. Those behind the scenes felt it happened too soon for him but rated his talents enormously. 

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Instead of boarding the managerial merry-go-round for another head-spinning spell in management, Adams spent time away from the dugout and reflected on the lessons learned during his 32-game spell in the Norwich hot seat. 

For many it would have spelt the end of their role at the forefront of the club. But not for Adams. 

Despite his decision to resign, it did little to shift the thought that his experience and knowledge could be a useful tool behind the scenes. 

That is a rarity in football. Often, once a manager gets discarded, they are rubbished and cast in a certain light, irrespective of their qualities in other areas. 

It says a lot for Adams' humility that he opted to walk away from the top job and focus on crafting a loans department that could benefit City in the long term. When the decision for him to return was announced, many assumed it was a tokenistic gesture and a job that merely maintained the feelgood factor around the club. 

When Webber arrived through the doors of Colney with a willingness to radically change how the club operated, many assumed Adams would be a victim of the cull that ensued. From legends like Darren Huckerby to those who dedicated years of service to the club like Ricky Martin, sentiment wasn't taken into consideration. 

But Adams stayed. Since, he has become one of the major players behind the scenes at Colney.

Norwich City V West Ham U18s FA Youth Cup. Stuart Webber and Neil Adams in the directors box. Pictur

Neil Adams has been a trusted figure for sporting director Stuart Webber. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

A fresh emphasis was placed on the loans department. Suddenly, Adams' office became a place young players wanted to end up. The Murphy twins, Ben Godfrey, James Maddison and Todd Cantwell have all been benefactors of a system tailored to individuals rather than a one size fits all approach. 

The decision to send Cantwell to the Dutch second division was a masterstroke. Godfrey's loan to League One the catalyst for the decision to convert him into a centre back and a trip to Scotland helped ignite the fire within Maddison.

Regular phone calls, analysis and support was provided. Adams had built a system that a self-funding football club required to improve its talents and generate cash. The success that followed led to other football clubs picking up the phone and wanting to see how City built that particular department. 

Adams has not just excelled in his work in the loans department but also proved to be a confidant for City's sporting director. 

In Adams, Webber has found an experienced, loyal but brutally honest colleague. He has confided in the ex-City winger during the dark periods and turned to him for advice on occasion. 

The pandemic was a period where Adams stepped up to help guide City through. Slowly, he found himself absorbing some of Webber's responsibilities naturally. In effect, he became the de-facto deputy. This appointment is a recognition of the high esteem he is held in. 

It's not a position that was handed to him on sentiment but hard work and respect. 

Adams is the modern day 'Mr Norwich City', someone who understands the history and fabric of the club but is as switched on when it comes to what needs to happen for it to progress in the future. 

He has climbed the ladder after a fall that would have been fatal to many. It is a recognition of his success behind the scenes and how Webber has come to trust him throughout his tenure. 

Neil Adams

Neil Adams in his Norwich City playing days. - Credit: Archant

Now Adams is in post, should Webber look to head abroad and establish Norwich City's scouting presence in a certain region of the world, he can do so with the knowledge that he has a man capable of not just holding the fort, but pushing the work being done at base further. 

City fans know that in Adams they have a presence at the top table. One that will make decisions with the best interest of the club at heart and decades of experience to back it up. 

He also has experience of being in the dugout and the boardroom, which may well offer a unique perspective that Webber can lean on should the pressure mount on Daniel Farke. 

Adams' journey to the top job at Norwich was the story of fairytale and years of graft. They say that adversity and responding to knockbacks is the true mark of a person - Adams has passed that particular test with flying colours. 

NCFC extra: The story behind Adams’ promotion and changes at City

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