Runners and Riders
So our lonely eyes turn to a new man. Unknown for now, but hopefully our search for the man to fill Lambert’s shoes won’t run on as long as the interminable searches conducted by Liverpool and Villa. There are plenty of names being thrown about, some serious contenders, some jokers, some outlandish suggestions. Analysis and thoughts of all await…
The bookies favourite, the nominative front-runner, the former Carrow Road legend. An appointment that would provide consistency of style; dour Scot replaces dour Scot. Malky has had an impressive start to his managerial career, beginning with Watford before moving on to Cardiff. At the Hornets he imposed a stylish brand of football on a team with precious few resources, continued their tradition of trusting and promoting youth, and got a team many felt were destined for relegation to be comfortable in the Championship. It wasn’t long before he was touted for a move (including to us when Lambert was making eyes at Burnley), but it was to Cardiff he went, where he has again done well. The team was haemorrhaging players and he rebuilt on a budget, with some key free signings and shrewd moves. Cardiff made a good fist of it under his first season, doing better than many expected by landing in the playoffs, but here they were completely uninspiring in defeat to West Ham.
In Mackay’s favour he’s got connections to Norwich, likes to play good football (though this was notably lacking in the playoffs), is young, hungry and possesses all the qualities we would normally look for in a player. He’s got a lot to prove. The problem is, he hasn’t actually proved a lot so far. Solid but not spectacular jobs at Watford and Cardiff do not a Premier League manager make, and it remains to be seen whether he’s got enough about him to make the step up. It is fair to say he is the main front runner on the basis of his Norwich connections – CV wise, he is just part of the pack.
In a similarly strong position with both bookies and fans, Hughton has proved more in his short managerial career than Malky but may cost more to attain. He was notably high on WBA’s managerial shortlist but they seemed to baulk at the reported £2m compensation that Birmingham would require. It remains to be seen whether this would be a stumbling block to Norwich.
Hughton’s shown his ability to get teams promoted from the Championship, sending Newcastle up at the first attempt and managing them fine in the Premier League before his unceremonious sacking. He landed at Birmingham where he not only turned them around in style, but landed them in the playoffs in a season where they had an incredible turnover of players and well over 60 games due to their Europa League commitments. He handles himself with class and dignity, has clearly learned a lot over the years and is taking his chance now he has it. Probably more prepared for top flight football than Malky, but as stated, more costly to attain.
Don’t even get me started. A manager of choice for clubs who are happy to potter about mid-table playing crap football. Bruce has as many loyalty issues as Lambert and is only even this high up the reckoning because of his Norwich connections. Not a serious contender in anyone’s eyes but bookmakers who will make plenty of money from fools who bet on him.
An interesting shout – laid the foundations of a successful Huddersfield team before being sacked earlier in the season, allowing Simon Grayson to come in and finish the job. Clarke has experience at Carrow Road after his stint as Roeder’s number two, and looks a talented young manager, but again this switch may be too early. He is still yet to prove anything, has only managed at League One, spent a lot of money to just miss out on promotion, and for all the plaudits that came his way for their undefeated streak, there were plenty of Huddersfield fans who pointed at his acceptance of drawing games rather than risking all to win as key to them not going up. I’m unsure whether such an approach would sit well at Carrow Road.
Another up and coming young manager who’s done well down at Brighton, taking them up from League One and flirting with the Championship playoffs. At the Seagulls he has instituted an interesting brand of football – attacking with the ball, petulant and dirty without. Brighton have become renowned over the last few seasons for their red cards, their antics on the pitch and the problems they have had with referees. Teams are often build in the image of their manager, and personally it isn’t a style I want to see.
Not for me. He’s doing great at Blackpool and has made some shrewd signings to show his ability to work within a tight budget, but his centre-of-attention style, love of a press conference and microphone and tendency to embarrass himself make him someone I like at other clubs but would not like at our own. On top of this, his style of football is a recipe for disaster at this level. Our problems with defending were evident last year but it would be a step back to go to a manager with even less care for the art.
Likely to go with Lambert to Villa along with Gary Karsa. An interesting shout if he’s willing to be considered, and he’s spoken of his willingness to get into management himself in the future. He’s known as the tactical genius of the duo and would likely be the appointment that breeds the most consistency. Unlikely, though. Swears a lot too.
Roberto Di Matteo
Could we replace one Champions League winner with another? No, probably not. He also didn’t do very well in the Premier League with West Brom, didn’t do very well in the league with Chelsea and won a couple of admittedly hard to win cups. Not belittling his achievements, and I think he deserves a shot with Chelsea longer term, but I wonder about his ability in the trench war that is a relegation fight.
Another journeyman lower half bog standard stuck in the past boss. Honest, good bloke, but not the sort I would want Norwich to go for. Too much of a throwback to the past, completely lost the dressing room in his last weeks at Wolves, looked unable to motivate. A perennial relegation battler.
Paolo di Canio
Believes his own hype after doing well with Charlton for so long. Hopefully Delia will have long forgotten her Charlton-model quote because Alan has been out of management for a few years, turning down perfectly good jobs at home and abroad and waiting for just the right one that he thinks is good enough for him. Did averagely at West Ham. Uninspiring.
Wants a project – where better? He wants back in England, he wants to get back in the game, and we’re now a Premier League club with a large fanbase and room to grow. It’s the sort of project that should make the sly old viper lick his lips with relish. Currently around 16/1.
Last year he suggested that Paul Lambert had a good imagination. If only we knew the depths of Lambert’s imaginarium… claret and blue wallpapered castles, gold lions, relics of silverware from glorious days long gone. The decaying days… anyway. Villas-Boas, who clearly has no imagination but makes up for it with his groin of steel, still has a lot to prove after failing pretty miserably at Chelsea. Without any old guard desperately clinging onto their jobs at Carrow Road (apart from Delia) he would have free reign to mould a team into his own dour, humourless image.
Some might say he’s a natural successor to Lambert – tactically astute, able to get the best from players, a supreme motivator. Understood that he wants to take a couple of months out before getting back into the game with a new challenge, and upping sticks to the Catalonia of England, Norfolk, could be just the ticket to reinvigorate his love for football. The chance to see his use of Holt as a ‘false nine’, to use the supremely talented Wessi instead of Messi, all of this would appeal to the Spaniard. I know it.