Munby: Hunter move is for best

DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City chairman Roger Munby was today getting to grips with the latest shock exit from the club but insisted: “I think it's for the best.” First team coach Martin Hunter is expected to join Watford as part of manager Adrian Boothroyd's coaching team.


Norwich City chairman Roger Munby was today getting to grips with the latest shock exit from the club but insisted: “I think it's for the best.”

First team coach Martin Hunter is expected to join Watford as part of manager Adrian Boothroyd's coaching team.

The former England Under-19 boss was conspicuous by his absence from the Canaries' first tour match in Holland on Saturday, a 2-0 victory over AGOVV Apeldoorn.

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After the game, manager Peter Grant revealed that Hunter was set to move to the Hornets, but was clearly angry about the timing and manner of his sudden exit.

Grant said: “I got a phonecall from Aidy Boothroyd on Thursday evening asking me for permission to speak to Martin. I think that was after the horse had bolted, really, because I think that talk had been going on.

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“If people show an inkling of not wanting to be here any longer, I don't give them very much time here. I think it's the right thing. Martin will move on, go to Watford probably.”

With less than three weeks to the first Coca-Cola Championship fixture at Preston, City will seek an immediate replacement.

Munby, who has just seen top players Robert Earnshaw and Dickson Etuhu move to Premiership clubs for a combined £5m, said Hunter's departure had happened “extraordinarily quickly”.

Munby said: “It's happened very quickly and it is something of a surprise. I know Peter is not happy at all about the process.

“But if you conclude that, like Earnshaw and Etuhu, neither of whom would entertain contract talks, there is someone else in a senior position and under contract here who doesn't want to work for Norwich City then it's better that he's not here.

“The process is upsetting and not right and because it has happened at this stage of pre-season rather than during the summer holiday, it can be somewhat disruptive.

“But the board will look forward to Peter's views about a replacement and he will work through that with the chief executive, Neil Doncaster.

“It's not a good time but we do have Peter and Jim Duffy, who are an increasingly robust partnership.”

Asked whether City would be seeking compensation from Watford, Doncaster said only that talks were taking place between the two clubs.

“Martin is spending the day at home today while discussions are going on between the two clubs,” he said.

Hunter, who arrived at Carrow Road 13 months ago as former boss Nigel Worthington's hand-picked replacement for the sacked Steve Foley, could not be contacted for a comment.

Grant's post-match comments in Harderwijk suggested an acrimonious parting. Asked if he knew which job 52-year-old Hunter would take at Watford, he said: “I don't know. I never gave him that much time to explain it.”

Grant accepted that Duffy's arrival as assistant manager last February may have influenced Hunter's decision.

He said: “I think because of the fact that Jim has come in, it's maybe a bit more difficult for him. That's life. Life goes on and we'll have somebody else in.”

But the City boss said he was “disappointed” on two counts.

He said: “It's definitely the timing but more the fact that I don't believe the talks have taken place in four hours.

“I think you've got to be honest and fair with people and I don't think that's what happened. I think I showed an honesty to keep Martin on in the first place when I could easily have changed it and I don't think that's been repaid.

“Martin knows what was going on last week. He knows how disappointed I was that there were things going on with players' agents, supposedly behind my back, then something like this happens. That's why you deal with it quickly.”

Hunter spent part of the close season leading UEFA A coaching courses, passing on his expertise to Premiership bosses such as Roy Keane and Gareth Southgate. Only last month, he dismissed reports linking him with a move to Wigan.

He said at the time: “Without any doubt I will be back at Norwich City to start work next week and I'm very much looking forward to it. It's been a very eventful year because of certain circumstances but I have no regrets whatever.”

Grant plans to replace Hunter before the new season starts.

He said: “There are a lot of people I know who would desperately want this job and I've got to make sure it's the right balance with me and Jim. Jim has been absolutely fantastic for me. Jim and Bryan Gunn through the summer time were excellent and were all over the place when I was away. I'm very, very pleased with them and I'm lucky I've got them. I will definitely add to the coaching staff.”

Meanwhile, Celtic striker Derek Riordan - a target for Grant last season - has again been linked with the Canaries with a £500,000 price tag mentioned in reports.

Riordan is currently on tour with Celtic in the USA. He struck a spectacular 79th-minute in a 1-1 draw in a friendly against Chicago Fire at Bridgeview, Illinois, last night.

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