Peter Grant on his Norwich City regrets, advice from Sir Alex and resigning to Delia
- Credit: Archant © 2007
For Peter Grant, there’s an argument that his first managerial job at Norwich City arrived without the necessary experience he required.
The Scot took the reins at Carrow Road in 2006, replacing long-serving and popular boss Nigel Worthington. A few months prior, he was preparing for an FA Cup Final against Liverpool in his role as assitant manager to Alan Pardew at West Ham United.
Now, the former City boss is back as a number one for Scottish Championship side Alloa Athletic after various coaching roles following his spell with the Canaries.
BEING OFFERED THE JOB AND SIR ALEX’S ADVICE
City were in a spell of transition, and Grant was tasked with stabilising a ship that had blown off course following relegation and was perceived to be underperforming.
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In the backdrop, Worthington’s fingerprints were still to be seen over a squad failing to live up to expectations. After five-years of stability, City sought a fresh approach and opted for an experienced coach who had never held the top job at a club previously.
Names from Neil Warnock to Sven Goran Eriksson and even Dion Dublin were amongst those touted with the managerial position, but City’s board opted for Grant, a man whose name didn’t even appear on the bookmakers odds after Worthington’s departure.
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Even with his City playing connections, Grant was an unexpected choice to replace the Northern Irishman, perhaps even to himself.
“I had just signed a new contract with West Ham United for five years a couple of days prior, and when I signed the contract I was not allowed to go anywhere else in the Premier League an as assistant.
“I was welcome to go as a manager to a club that was looking to get into the Premier League, or a big club. I did not think that would happen as quickly as it did.
“I got a phone call about going to meet Delia [Smith] and Michael [Wynn Jones] and the rest of the Norwich city board and they offered me the job.”
When it came to accepting the job however, Grant sought the advice of a managerial legend - who advised him to accept the position but warned him of the struggles he would face at Carrow Road.
“I remember Sir Alex Ferguson told me Norwich City is a fantastic job but a very, very difficult job. He elaborated by telling me that I go to watch a lot of games and the journeys that involved, to and from Norwich, in that respect, took four hours each way in some cases.”
Grant’s first fixture in charge was a 1-0 victory over Cardiff City, with midfielder Dickson Etuhu netting the winner after seven minutes.
GRANT’S REGRETS AND RESIGNING TO DELIA
Grant has previously expressed disappointment that key assets, Robert Earnshaw and Etuhu, were sold as he continued his work to progress City up the table.
In October 2007, a year after being appointed, the Scot departed Carrow Road following a televised 1-0 defeat to QPR in the Championship.
Speaking about his regrets, Grant pointed to his use of time as being a primary reason that he struggled to acclimatise to life in management.
“I loved every moment of my time at Norwich City and the biggest disappointment for me was when I went to see the board after the QPR defeat.
“I felt as if I never managed my time well to be honest, starting out in the gym at 6.45 in the morning and then going to watch teams after that.
“I was a glutton for punishment, getting home in the early hours, but that was a big error because that times I was burnt.
“I had two young kids and my wife and I went to see Delia and she asked me to take a few days off and think about it, but unfortunately, I had already made my mind up as I am stubborn like that.”
After what then-chairman Roger Munby described as ‘extensive talks’. Ultimately, Grant had felt he had spent the trust bestowed in him by City’s hierarchy.
Grant was replaced by Glenn Roeder, who made an initial impact prior to becoming unpopular with supporters due to poor results and decisions that included releasing club legend Darren Huckerby without providing the winger with a chance to say farewell to the supporters.
For Grant, that request from majority shareholder Delia Smith to consider his decision more carefully. His decision was made, and it isn’t something the Scot would do differently - he remains thankful for the opportunity.
“I said no I would rather resign from the position. Norwich City are a fantastic club and I loved every minute of it.
“They have a great set of supporters and I was honoured and privileged to be part of it. It is just a pity that it did not last long.
“I remember managers phoning me up afterwards and saying that we all go through these moments, you have just got to manage them.”
Grant’s departure meant the Canaries board were seeking their second manager in as many years.
Grant’s downfall may have been cause by his desire to succeed. Time management is pivotal as a manager and Grant, by his own admission, didn’t utilise it efficiently.
HOW DOES HE REMEMBER HIS TENURE AT CARROW ROAD?
Despite that, he recalls his experience at Carrow Road with great positivity, especially in the direction of the club’s boardroom.
“I loved every moment of it. I was blessed. I could have not picked better owners at Norwich City.
“They were also fantastic people and they did everything to help me. I just felt that I was not focused on the job the way I should be in trying to do everything myself,” he told World Football Index.
“But you learn through experience that you can’t do it all yourself as a manager, and looking back that was probably my one regret, in that I knew I could do the job, I just did not manage my time well enough.”
Alloa Athletic currently sit 8th in the Scottish Championship, and Grant explains his approach to management revolves around getting the best out a squad rather than possessing a defined playing style.
“Well, I never have a philosophy. The philosophy I have got is what players have I got, and to try to get the best out of the players and put them in the right positions.
“In an ideal world, I would love in an attacking sense to play like FC Barcelona, and like Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid without the ball.
The football with which I was brought up on, and the teams that I played in myself. I try to train my players in the same way, in that they are comfortable on the ball and the team has a purpose, not just keeping the ball for the sake of keeping it. You have to mix the game.
“To say that you have a philosophy is very difficult. Over a period of time a manager can have a philosophy if you are at a football club and you are guaranteed four or five years but, unfortunately, you are lucky to get four or five minutes now.”