Football is a game which demands instant success. Patience is a virtue you’d struggle to stumble across in England’s top leagues. As of October 2015, the average tenure for a Premier League manager, when discounting Arsene Wenger from the equation, is a measly 1.29 years. Can you really achieve anything in that time? You can put out a few fires, but that’s about it.
Something I’ve always wanted for my team, for Norwich, is for a manager to come in and to really be given time. I’d want that consistency. Someone to come in and do the job for a good number of seasons, to really build something and to really get us in good shape. Had Paul Lambert not made a questionable career choice and gone wandering off to Aston Villa, then I’m sure he could have been that man. Chris Hughton never seemed have that ambition or belief that Norwich could really go on and achieve great things, I say that as he continuously set us up not to lose and always told us how good the opposition were. A good guy no doubt, but despite being as patient as I could, I couldn’t stomach a good number of seasons under him.
Then came Neil Adams. Again, a good guy. A Norwich man. It was a job that came too early for him. He’d proven himself to be a talented manager with our academy side, but it was just a step too far to mount a serious challenge to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Now, the man at the helm is young Scotsman Alex Neil. What Paul Lambert achieved at this club was fantastic, and probably the most fun I’ve had as a Norwich fan, play-offs aside. But when it comes to Neil, I feel more in awe of our new Scotsman than our old one.
There’s something special about Neil. Nobody can deny that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we’d start the season a little better than we have, but Neil himself has said we should have more points than we do. Simon Hooper robbed us of some against Crystal Palace, we would have beaten Stoke pretty heavily but for Jack Butland, we should have held on for a win at West Ham and I feel we were worth a point against Leicester. Regardless, we’ve stumbled into some bad form of late. Four defeats in a row isn’t great reading. But our manager underlined his talents at the weekend at Manchester City. Shying away from his usual approach, Neil set up the Canaries dramatically differently and his game plan almost worked superbly – but for some individual errors, which as a manager you can’t plan for.
Whatever happens this season, it’s imperative that the Norwich hierarchy, the Norwich fans and all those of a yellow and green persuasion remain patient with Alex Neil. Staying in the Premier League has enormous financial rewards, that’s obvious, it’s also something I still believe Norwich will do. Yet, even if they didn’t, there’s not a bone in my body that would want us to chop and change when it comes to our manager. Neil is learning fast. Neil is young. Neil has ambition. Neil has massive talent. He wants to play football in the right way. He’s a real leader. He’s going to go far. Give him time, be patient and even if we yo-yo around a little, I would bet everything I have that in a few seasons time, still under Alex Neil, he’d have built something really special at Norwich City.
In fact, I’d go as far to say that the years to come, there will be a time where Norwich City fans are following the progress of a Scot named Alex Neil who has risen to the very top of the game, watching on like proud mums on a Sports Day. This guy is going to go far. We’d be fools not to remain patient and see just what he can do at Carrow Road.