Munby: Don't be too quick to judge
DAVID CUFFLEY Peter Grant can only fairly be judged as Norwich City manager on a full season in charge - according to the club chairman.As the 41-year-old Scot is busily preparing his players for the Coca-Cola Championship campaign, which starts at Preston in just over a fortnight, Roger Munby argues it is right to give the City boss time to put his own stamp on proceedings at Carrow Road.
Peter Grant can only fairly be judged as Norwich City manager on a full season in charge - according to the club chairman.
As the 41-year-old Scot is busily preparing his players for the Coca-Cola Championship campaign, which starts at Preston in just over a fortnight, Roger Munby argues it is right to give the City boss time to put his own stamp on proceedings at Carrow Road.
While Grant insists it has been “my team” from the moment he took over from Nigel Worthington last October, his first team squad has taken on a very different look in the space of nine months.
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With 10 permanent signings arriving - plus the capture of Jimmy Smith on loan from Chelsea - and eight senior players departing in the same period, it is unquestionably Grant's team that will kick off the new season at Preston on August 11. And only then, reckons Munby, can supporters start to make a true assessment of the manager.
“I don't think there's any magic time but I think there is something in football about the first complete season with a new manager,” said Munby.
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“Look what happened with Nigel - a terrific man when he arrived. I was trying to count up the other day the number of players he brought in in his first summer. I know it was an impressive list and, of course, we went to the play-off final that first season so there is a precedent for it.
“Peter and his staff have set about the task in a similar way and have delivered many if not most of our objectives.
“I've congratulated Peter and his staff and Neil Doncaster two or three times already for what I think in the life of this board, the 11 summers we've had, is the most impressive we've had in terms of the influx of players.
“Quite some time ago, Peter started unfolding his plans and discussing them at board level as to which particular positions he'd be looking to strengthen, later producing a list of his targets - the A list, the B list - and he has got most of the A list.
“It places the team in a strong position for the challenge ahead.”
It could be argued that strength has been considerably undermined by the departure of top scorer Robert Earnshaw to Derby and midfielder Dickson Etuhu to Sunderland for a combined £5m, but Munby said he was comfortable with Grant's stated aim, not merely of a top six finish, but of setting out to win the Championship.
Munby said: “The departure of Dickson Etuhu was a huge disappointment and a great frustration to everybody. Those are the rules. That's the way the contracts work, sometimes against you. We wouldn't have bargained on losing both Etuhu and Earnshaw.
“But I think it's right for the team manager to set the highest possible target. And it's right for the fans to believe at the beginning of a season that that is what the goal should be. Targets then need to be pursued and fulfilled. We all would share that as the target. It has to be the target every season.
“You don't sell the volume of season tickets we have and you don't appeal to the volume of crowds that we enjoy without having the highest possible target at the beginning of the season.”
Munby was in Holland to watch the first of City's tour matches, the 2-0 victory over AGOVV Apeldoorn on Saturday, and said he was impressed with their training camp.
He said: “People throughout industries talk about the value of bonding and there is no better time than before the new season starts, especially with new players coming into the squad.
“I'm impressed with what the team management have done in terms of the location. It's a lovely place to come, Holland, beautifully organised.”
There was also a word of praise for about 200 City supporters who made it to Harderwijk for the pre-season games.
“I've been criticised for constantly congratulating the fans but I don't mind doing that again. When it comes to the long haul they never let you down,” said Munby.