UPDATED: Norwich City sack Alex Neil: columnist Edward Seaman gives his take on it
Norwich City fan Edward Seaman reflects on Alex Neil’s time at the club and gives his early choice for his successor at Carrow Road.
First things first, I want to place on record my sincere thanks to Alex Neil for his efforts as manager of Norwich City, and the memories he has given us over the last two years.
The way in which the then unknown Scot transformed this club upon his arrival was nothing short of incredible, galvanising an underachieving squad with a refreshingly honest approach. At times it genuinely felt like we were unbeatable.
And of course the way in which the season ended — beating Ipswich in the play-off semi-final followed by that day at Wembley — gave us memories that will never be forgotten.
But football moves on, and over the last 18 months things have not been good enough.
I was one of those happy to give my support to Neil following relegation, but this season has been nothing short of a disaster.
As I wrote today’s (March 10 Express) column, the humiliation at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday, which all but ended City’s play-off hopes, was the final straw for me.
The performance itself was utterly embarrassing, with City showing no guts, no passion and no fight in a game of such magnitude.
To me made it clear as day that Neil wasn’t the man to turn around the club’s fortunes.
On top of this season’s failings, I also had no faith in Neil to oversee what promises to be a transitional, and very important, summer for the club.
I called for the board to act fast and give a new manager the chance to assess his squad in the final months of the season, and with today’s sacking, that is something they have done.
That said, I find it strange that the club allowed Neil to face the press this afternoon and talk about his future, and how he planned to build and refresh the squad for next season. Neil deserved better than that.
But ultimately the right decision has been made — and with an international break on the horizon, I implore the board to take their time and find the right man to lead this club forward.
As to who that will be, I’m sure names like Gary Rowett and Mark Warburton will be linked with the club, but at this early stage it’s difficult to say who I’d like to take over the role.
As to who that will be, I’m sure names like Gary Rowett and Mark Warburton will be linked with the club, but for me the club needs someone with experience, especially considering how important this summer is going to be.
Another named linked in the early stages has been Alan Pardew – and that would be an appointment I could fully support.
I understand that Pardew may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he has that experience, having guided both Reading and West Ham United to promotion from the Championship — albeit a while back.
Not only that, I’m sure Pardew would have no issues in managing the so-called egos in this squad and throughout his career has always proven to have that galvanising effect when joining a new club.
Preferably, I’d like see someone with experience, especially considering how important this summer is going to be.
In the club’s official statement, they also announced plans for changes behind the scenes. That is something that is needed — although for me complaints over Delia Smith and her ownership of the club are uncalled for.
Yes Delia and co. have got it wrong at times, including hanging on to Neil for too long, but we should count ourselves lucky to have owners who genuinely care — and prioritise the safety of this club.
Just ask fans of clubs like Coventry, Portsmouth and perhaps even Ipswich.
Giving the final word to Neil, as it should be, I hope when the dust settles he is remembered for the first six months at the club, including that incredible day at Wembley, rather than the shadow of that manager he became.
I wish Neil all the best for the future, and have no doubts we’ll see him back in management before too long.
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