The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
I wrote a couple of days ago that David McNally wouldn`t let the grass grow under his feet in the search for Norwich City`s next manager, but even I was impressed with the pace and verve that the club displayed when they went after Chris Hughton.
Hughton was my number one choice in what to be honest was a limited field of standout applicants.
Despite being a Premier League side, we obviously have to be realistic. We were never going to prise a David Moyes from Everton or anybody of his stature.
That left few options in this country that would fit the bill. McNally suggested that the club would look to Europe as well but I never felt this was a serious option.
The club have said that there was only ever one candidate for the job and they went out and got him, which is exactly the same as when Paul Lambert was ripped from Colchester.
This time though the deal seems to have been entirely amicable with compensation of around £2m being widely quoted for Hughton and three of his back room team. Where this leaves Culverhouse and Karsa I don`t know but would assume that they will be let go and then become free to join up with Lambert at Villa.
Chris Hughton has a huge wealth of experience in football but is a relatively new manager, having spent his post-playing days as coach at Spurs, then Newcastle before taking on the manager`s job at St. James` Park (can`t bring myself to call it the silly arena or whatever it is).
At Newcastle he proved adept at motivation and won the Championship with little or no investment available to him.
He was sacked by Mike Ashley much to the disbelief of almost the entire football world, with Newcastle safely in mid table.
I think Ashley got away with that one slightly when he appointed Alan Pardew, who fortunately for Mike has improved the team even further.
One signing of particular note that I believe he made at Newcastle was that of Hatem Ben Arfa for around £3m - if he can unearth a gem of that quality for that sort of price for us then we won`t go too far wrong.
At Birmingham City he impressed the board with his knowledge of the game and apparently brought a dossier of ideas, tactics and players to show to the Blues` board.
They didn`t need to think too hard and swiftly hired him.
I wonder though, if the job was not entirely what he thought as he soon found himself having players sold after relegation. He was left facing a transfer embargo and nothing to spend.
Their multi millionaire owner is unable to leave Hong Kong, has had his assets frozen and the future consequently looks bleak at St. Andrews.
Despite that, Hughton went about his business and recruited eleven free signings.
Birmingham were moulded into a team and played sixty odd matches in all competitions including a decent Europa League campaign. The crowning proof though saw Hughton driving Birmingham into the play-offs, finishing fourth in the league.
They ultimately lost to Blackpool in the play-offs and looked tired in those two games. Perhaps the lengthy season had caught up with them and maybe the European adventure did more harm than good.
Once again though, Chris Hughton had only improved his stock, making him the stand out choice to take over at Carrow Road.
With West Brom and Swansea on the hunt for a new man as well, it was imperative not to allow those two clubs time to move for Hughton.
McNally knew this and made his move, he got permission to speak with Hughton and less than 24 hours later it was all done. I don`t think it was a hard sell either. With City in the Premiership, financially stable and having money to spend the job has obvious attractions.
Following Paul Lambert will be a big pair of boots to fill and Hughton will know this. But he is clearly up for the challenge.
He was asked at his press conference about Grant Holt and said that any manager would want such a player to stay but he will need to speak to him about the future.
Here`s hoping that Holt can be persuaded to stay and that the supposed fall out with McNally about a contract extension can be resolved.
Much will depend on the club as well as the player and his agent being willing to talk. As I`ve said before though, if we get offers, much as I love Holt, money talks - if an offer of £5m plus came in then we`d have to look at it (I think). But as the Chief Exec has said "How much would it cost to replace him?"
One final bit from me on the Holt situation is that I feel Les Payne (the agent) is not doing anyone any favours by constantly leaking snippets of information to the media and the player himself is not helping things by his use of twitter - "Holt for Villa".
Seriously Grant, if you`re joking that`s a tough one for the fans to take. Whatever happened to having a bit of dignity as well as respect for the fans that idolise you?
I think that by moving quickly, we have the best man available to us. He has the rest of June to draw up his recruitment plans before July 1st when things start to move, as well as persuade Holt to stay (or not as the case maybe).
He is a big enough name to be able to attract players, a proven record and I`m very pleased.
In Hughton we trust. The King is dead, long live the King.