Time is of the essence in the crazy world of football
Is it too long before we see a manager both appointed and then sacked by a top club within the very same pre-season?
You can picture it now. A couple of dull 0-0 draws and a defeat in friendlies against lower-league opposition and all of a sudden the couple of thousand people attending get restless and start to chant for the manager’s head.
And then, fearing that form will carry into the season proper, the impatient board pull the trigger.
That’s because time is a commodity very few managers enjoy these days.
Whether it’s because fans are making snap judgments on the basis of just a couple of games, or the money men are terrified their investment could go down the drain, the pressure on managers to get it right from day one is immense.
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Just as Chris Hughton found out in the aftermath of the 5-0 defeat against Fulham.
A snapshot of views being put across on Canary Call and various social media sites included the following; “Hughton is too negative, he’s been found out, the players can only play above themselves under Lambert, he’s made rubbish signings, he doesn’t want to win away”.
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Of course some of these may prove to be true, but how anyone can think they are qualified to make such conclusions after just 90 minutes of football I’ll never know.
That’s why it was so pleasing to see a performance from the team on Saturday that may start to put some of these wild accusations to bed.
But then, of course, just as everything that was bad about the Fulham match a week earlier may have been a one-off, so too may have everything that was good about Saturday’s game.
Much better therefore to at least wait until Hughton has time to get the new players settled in and find his style of play, before deciding whether he is the right man to move us forward.
How long that will take I don’t know. Everyone knows that gone are the days of old when the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson were given several years to get it right.
But, time and time again, you can’t help but think fans and club boards are too quick to make their minds up on the new man in charge.
I’m sure there’s many Villa fans out there now proclaiming the side to be doomed under Paul Lambert. “He’s been found out” they’ll say – but I’d be very surprised if Villa got relegated this season, despite having a poor squad. What’s more they are better with Lambert in charge than a host of other people.
Of course it could be that fans are no more impatient than ever before – they simply have many more ways of communicating their feelings.
Go back 20 years ago and if someone was really unhappy with how things were unfolding they either had to write a letter to the club or pro-actively take part in some sort of protest.
I remember missing my train home one Saturday because I wanted to demonstrate against Robert Chase.
Now, of course, it takes just a few seconds (or 140 characters) to tell the world how bad everything is. Does this mean we should take less heed of complaints because they are so much easier to express? And, of course, those who want to complain always find a way to do so, while those who don’t are more likely to stay silent. That’s as true in life as it is in football.
You rarely get threads on the Pink Un entitled; “just wanted to let you know I’m perfectly satisfied with everything that’s going on at the moment”. As far as club management is concerned their impatience clearly comes down to the fact that the costs of failure are so much greater than ever before.
Take this season – it’s almost one of win or bust. Stay up and the television riches are even greater for 2013/14. We are talking enough cash to clear debts and, put to good use, potentially secure top-flight football for years to come. If Norwich do stay up we should be able to realistically talk about FA Cup and Europa League runs. After that, who knows?
Go down and you are saddled with a big wage bill and possibly lower crowds. I suspect this is what has played a large part in convincing Norwich and some of their rivals to loosen the purse strings in the last few weeks. With the likes of Sebastien Bassong, Javier Garrido and Alexander Tettey coming in you get the impression our transfer dealings, and wage bill, have stepped up to the next level.
Let’s hope they are given enough time to bed in before we proclaim or condemn them.
• So what did we learn from Tuesday’s game against Scunthorpe?
1: A cup run is already more realistic under Hughton than it ever was under Lambert.
2: Watching David Fox and Wes Hoolahan in full flow remains highly entertaining.
3: The steady Simon Lappin could still have a part to play at Carrow Road (as long as he’s not been transferred by the time you read this).
4: We definitely need a new striker to push Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson – perhaps even two.
• You don’t need to be Einstein to spot something we need to quickly work on at the training ground – the giving away of soft penalties. This was a real Achilles heel last season when we gave away five in our opening five games. Two in our first two games so far.
There could be no complaints about either, despite many bemoaning Saturday’s decision. Bassong had a very good debut, but he connected with Djibril Cisse twice and went in clumsily from behind when he would have been better to have stood his ground.
• While on the subject of time, it appears to be something Grant Holt needs in order to get his season up and running. There were a few grumbles in the Barclay on Saturday (aren’t there always?) with regards to the few opportunities he created. He looked quiet against Fulham and some have argued he’s not looking as slimline as last season. However, his career at Norwich so far suggests that not only does it take him a while to get going. In his first season with the Canaries he scored just two in our first seven league games. A year later just three in the opening 16 and last year two in the first eight, before that turning point goal in the 1-1 draw at Liverpool. In all three he ended up our top scorer.
• So if you were Hughton, what business would you be looking to do before the transfer window closes? Mine would be as follows:
In: New goalkeeper (Declan Rudd and Jed Steer need a season of regular appearances to prove themselves) and new striker.
Out: Chris Martin, Tom Adeyemi (loan), Korey Smith (loan), George Francomb (loan), Declan Rudd or Jed Steer (loan). I wonder if Elliott Ward may be added to this list due to the influx of centre backs.
Let me know @david_powles