What Did Neil Adams Ever Do For Us?
He may yet come back in some capacity this summer but whatever the future holds, I personally agree with CEO David McNally when he recently reminded us all to reflect on the role Neil Adams played in our promotion bid.
Before everyone shrieks with derision at this, and tells me that Adams was not good enough, mis-managed games and was woefully lacking as a manager of Norwich City, I should admit that I would agree with this wholeheartedly and that we needed to make a change when we did. I was initially disappointed when he took over and sadly it wasn't working out. That was clear for all to see.
However, here's my take on the things he did well (Note - I'll look in more detail at the Alex Neil effect in my next article) and let's be clear he actually got quite a lot right.
1) New Contract For Wes
Wes Hoolahan as been outstanding this season. He's my favourite Norwich player over the last 5 years or so and has bolstered his reputation as one of the most creative players of his generation. At Championship level, convincing the wantaway Irish international to stay was a stroke of genius. I think Adams also tried in vein to keep Andrew Surman at Carrow Road too. He clearly knows a good player when he sees one.
2) Stability in the Summer
If we look at the side that started the game at Wembley, only Cameron Jerome was not part of the team that was relegated. It must have been a challenge to change the losing mentality of the very same players that got us relegated. Of the senior players, Snodgrass, Surman, Elmander, van Wolfswinkel, Pilkington and Fer all left the club. This, along with the hugely poor run of results (not to mention the 40% wage drop for the players), would have made it a difficult mood for Adams to lift in that dressing room and at Colney.
Players of the calibre of Ruddy, Howson, Johnson, Tettey, Martin, Olsson all stayed and these are exactly the players that have helped us back up.
Of the 3 relegated clubs, it was Adams' team that got off to the best start. Although there were many hiccups along the way, he won a lot of games and we were still in touching distance of the leaders at the turn of the year (with a great December just before he left). It could have been a whole lot worse.
Of course, he also brought Gary Holt back to the club. The only remaining member of his coaching staff - someone who has looked very comfortable in his surroundings all season, no matter who's in charge.
3) Good Attacking Signings
Ok so there were a few that didn't come off (Cuellar, Lafferty and Miquel amongst others) but on the whole, the squad was improved in the summer.
In came 9 players (not counting Louis Thompson) including notably Cameron Jerome (using perhaps some of the Fer money), Lewis Grabban and seasoned pro Gary O'Neil.
With Jerome and Grabban, added to Hooper, this is the best set of strikers the club has had for a long time and a key area where Adams helped to improve the team. It was clear from early on in the season that we were set up to play attacking football.
The FA Youth Cup success of a couple of seasons back was also built on strong attacking foundations. Adams oversaw the development of the best group of young players the club has produced for probably 20 years.
The swift appointment of Alex Neil caught a lot of us by surprise following the poor showing at Preston in the FA Cup, but there is no doubt he has taken us on a level from where Adams left us at that stage. However the foundations were there and Adams did, for a brief period early in the season, bring the feel good factor back to the supporters at the club, and that had been missing for almost all of his predecessors reign.
Whatever happens now between the club and Neil Adams (and I hope he stays), I wish him good luck. Somewhere in there, there is probably a very good coach.