It has finally happened. After seemingly surviving long past his sell by date like a mouldy yogurt at the back of the fridge, Delia, Ed Balls and co finally took the decision to sack Alex Neil. I could make a long passage of where it went wrong for Neil and review his managerial reign, which would go on about how good the first 6 months were and then the ineptitude of what came, but this is not what the blog is for. Instead, this blog is to look at who could replace him, and who would be best for the job. Betting odds started immediately by naming everybody’s favourite owl and disgrace of the nation Roy “Woy” Hodgson as favourite, but quickly moved towards ex Newcastle Manager, and likely used car salesman Alan Pardew as favourite. Whoever does become manager, they have a job of dismantling an aging squad (a problem I cited in my relegation blog last year), rebuilding with youth and fresh signings, and at the same time making sure they get the club back up to the Premier League within the next 2 seasons. In that in mind let’s look at the contenders
As I write this blog, Alan Irvine is getting ready to lead a manager-less Norwich team against Blackburn, and I fully expect him to win that game. In fact I expect him to win a few games while he is interim manager, as the players final have the shackles of Alex Neil released. Now Irvine has got qualities about him which would make a good manager. He did well at Preston for example, and his qualities as a coach and a man manager are a known quality. In fact, it was seen as a scalp when Neil got him into the backroom team back in July. It would be a very Norwich appointment to put Irvine in charge. He would be cheap, as he already works for the club, and he would be a stable progression from Neil.
However, the big issue with Irvine, is that from pundits and experts alike, he is not seen as management material. Irvine failed miserably as manager at both Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom, both clubs being the same sort of stature to Norwich. Therefore Irvine would be hardly an inspiring choice
Rudrum verdict: Would not want him, but could see it happening.
Probably the most divisive manager in English football, expert of dance moves and your mum, Alan Pardew, has emerged as early favourite to replace Alex Neil. Personally, I would love Pardew. He managed to take a Newcastle team who had sold 4 of its best players at the time (Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique) and managed to get them into Europe. It was also telling that when Pardew left Newcastle, they absolutely sank with Carver and McClaren to relegation in one and a half years. Pardew also guide Crystal Palace to 10th in a year they still barely had any Premier League standard players. Pardew also has had a knack of bringing marquee signings, something Norwich lacked last time we went up. Cabaye and Benteke to Crystal Palace and Tevez and Mascherano to West Ham particularly standout. Pardew also has a record of dealing with the 2nd division, having guided Reading to 4th in a season which followed winning Division 2 (now League 1) the season before.
Now, Pardew isn’t perfect, in fact he comes with two pieces of large baggage, the first of which, is teams collapses of form under his leadership. This happened at West Ham, Charlton, Newcastle (although he did turn it around there) and in a Palace side which finally had the quality to be a Premier Leauge squad, so there is certainly a risk there. The other issue is Pardews personality, in that, it’s not very Norwich, it’s not the type of personality which you would expect Delia to hire. Pardew would also demand an expensive contract, and with Norwich’s reputation of being tight, that could be an issue.
Rudrum verdict: Would want him, I believe he would get us back in the Premier Leauge, lead is to a top half finish, before flopping in the second or third season, with a cup run in that period, giving us highs and lows. But I don’t think it will happen as I don’t think he would suit the board, regardless of what the papers are saying.
One man who has been rumoured ever since Norwich hit dire form under Neil in the Championship is ex Birmingham boss, Gary Rowett, and if you look at his football league record, you can see why. For Burton Albion, Rowett got them promoted to League One and in the following season, got them in an automatic promotion position, and when he left for Birmingham, he had created the foundations for Nigel Clough to take them up to the championship. Rowett was also a great success at Birmingham. He took a near bottom championship side with no money, and turned them into promotion contenders, and turned one of the leakiest defences in the championship into a strong one, and with Norwich having one of the leakiest defences as well, this would look to be a good appointment. Since Rowett was sacked by Birmingham in what can only be described as one of the most ludicrous board decisions in football, Birmingham have nosedived from 7th to 17th, something which has just elevated his stock higher. Rowett is also reportedly interested in the vacancy, available, and fairly cheap.
Only issue I would have with Rowett is his lack of Premier League experience, something which could hold us back in the long run.
Rudrum Verdict: Would definitely have him, and see it as a realistic option
Another manager who was ludicrously sacked, Mark Warburton is also a contender who is cheap, available and interested. Warburton’s success at Brentford shows exactly why he would be good. He got them playing some brilliant passing football, got them promoted to the championship, and then in his first season, managed to get Brentford to the playoffs. Warburton also has links to Pritchard, who was sensational in a Brentford shirt under his reign. Warburton also got Rangers comfortably promoted to the Scottish Premiership, and guided them to a cup win and to 3rd when he was sacked, which from my view of Rangers, is the most they could have really asked for given the huge rebuilding job which has been needed.
The big issue Warburton could have however is his record of falling out with owners. He left both Brentford and Rangers with fallouts with the owners and there is a question if Delia would want him. The other issue is Warburton actually interviewed for Norwich before Alex Neil was hired, so there may have been a reason why he was rejected the first time round.
Rudrum Verdict: Would be happy with him, but would prefer either Pardew or Rowett.
A lot of the logic and smart money points towards England failure, but lower Premier League success story, Roy Hodgson. “Woy” is friends with Delia and already goes to the games, so it would firstly make sense with the board. “Woy’s” record with teams Norwich’s side also speaks for itself. “Woy” saved Fulham from relegation, and then took them to a comfortably 8th in the table and almost brought the defining moment in the clubs history when he brought them to the Europa League final. “Woy” also did a similar job at West Brom and laid the foundations which Pulis still holds on to today.
But, there are also a lot of issues with Hodgson. Firstly, you can’t imagine he would be exactly cheap. Secondly employing Hodgson would make us a laughing stock for the rest of English football, as his pathetic end as England manager is still at the forefront of peoples memory. Third, there is an argument that Hodgson is now past it, and at the age of 69, is too old now. It would be a very safe but at the same time a very risky appointment.
Rudrum verdict: Unfortunately I see Hodgson as now past it now. But I see this as a very likely option for Norwich to go for
Mr Outstretch himself has been linked to the Norwich vacancy. The pros for this are simple. Pearson got Leicester Promoted, built a team, kept them up, and the rest is history. Pearson also would make for great entertainment on the touchline and would definitely know how to sort out underperforming players like Timm Klose.
However, the reasons not to sign Pearson are also simple. His Leicester career ended in scandal, something which wouldn’t exactly encourage Delia, and Pearson also failed dismally at Derby.
Rudrum Verdict: Not for me.
Once upon a time in the 1990s, Sherwood played for Norwich as a midfielder, and therefore has a clear link to the club already. But I can’t take Sherwood as a manager quickly. So instead of taking it seriously, I will tell a prediction of a Sherwood Norwich. Sherwood comes in, somehow regenerates useless striker Kyle Lafferty into a goal machine, who salutes Sherwood after scoring a brace against Barnsley. While this is happening the defence gets even leakier and chaos resumes in the form table. In the first season of Sherwood we finish 15th, and Tim is sacked.
Rudrum Verdict: No, NO, PLEASE NO
You may be reading this and asking to yourself, “Seriously” But why not? If Gerard and Giggs, who have no management experience and no link to Norwich are 33/1 in the bookies, why not Holt. He must be near retirement soon, and you could imagine his antics on the touchline would be fantastic. Holt was the best Captain for Norwich I have seen in my lifetime, and he is a leader through and through. Obviously, we no management experience, I have no idea what would actually happen, but you’ve got to imagine it would be at least entertaining.
Rudrum Verdict: Not really, but would love him as part of the backroom staff
Let’s all be real. We have gone through some strong candidates: Pardew, Rowett, Warburton; but this is the man we really want back. If this was to happen, I think most people, like me, would open him back with open arms.
Other possible contenders: Nigel Clough, Ranieri (dreams), Mick McCarthy (it would be funny), David Wagner (unlikely), Gary Monk (also unlikely) and Alan Curbishley (the man rumoured for every championship vacancy ever).