With chief executives more important than ever at football clubs, Richard Jeffery is starting to get worried about the lack of news coming out of Carrow Road. Where is Norwich’s new David McNally? Plus: colons and Terminator
Norwich’s hunt for a new David McNally has gone a bit quiet, hasn’t it? He (eventually) resigned on May 9, so that’s now over two months.
Chief Executive (CE) appointments don’t happen overnight, but still this is still worrying. I am mithered by it. I’m worried because I fear we’ll end up with Steve Stone, our interim Chief Executive (ICE) and former Financial Director (FD) getting the gig (GTG).
If that did happen, it wouldn’t surprise anyone, would it? It would just be classic of little old Norwich (COLON).
Stone is obviously an impressive guy. He has a background in a global accountancy firm, before taking senior roles in the hospitality (pubs) and gambling (bingo) industries. But then my Nan loved a brown ale and her bingo, and I wouldn’t have put her in charge of a football club.
Naturally, I jest. Of course I would have put her in charge, but that’s what Stone is: an FD and by all accounts a very good one. He may even have the tools and ability to perform a CE role in the sectors he previously worked in. But, crucially, he doesn’t have the football experience Norwich need.
At the Player of the Season dinner, back in May, I was very concerned with how Ed Balls introduced Steve Stone before he spoke. There was no mention of the hunt for a CE; simply a thanks to McNally and praise for the job Stone was doing. Then Stone spoke and, to me, it sounded like a pitch for the job. Maybe I’m being paranoid.
Norwich have appointed a specialist recruiter to search for the right candidate, and the right noises were made about the new incumbent having to come from a football background. But this is starting to smell like the time we scoured Europe for a manager before finding that the best candidate (who wasn’t really qualified for the job, coincidence fans) was under our noses all of the time. We need a boardroom Neil of the Alex kind right away; we can’t afford to have six months of a Neil of the Adams variety first.
We must find a candidate who is experienced in the skulduggery, Dutch auctions, horse-trading and downright bullshit that go on in the filthy, dirty business of football. Someone who knows how agents work, and maybe has the ear of one or two. A person with a ruthless streak, who is a bastard, but importantly is our bastard.
They’ll need to sort out our ongoing issues over planning and recruitment and do all of this within our financial constraints. We don’t want to be the next basket-case club, deep in debt and plummeting down the leagues; we’ve been there all too recently.
Likewise we don’t want to be marooned in the same division for year upon year, with no end in sight, watching our attendances fall further and further and swathes of empty seats being the standout feature of our highlights slot on Channel 5. We don’t want to hang around like a fart in the large intestine of the Championship, occasionally threatening to breach the anus of the Premiership, before subsiding back after failing to get past the sphincter of our own mediocrity. No names, no pack drill. I Presume Some Will Infer Correctly Here.
So it’s not easy – and Euro 2016 may have delayed things somewhat as well – but the silence is deafening on this issue. Of course, the club may have been quietly going about things behind the scenes and, as the best candidates tend to be in work, there would be a lot to sort out, including notice period. So there could already be someone lined up.
But this has to be the correct appointment. Remember our CE prior to McNally? We must not return to a naif like that. Good points though Neil Doncaster may have had, you must remember his excruciatingly poorly judged account of how we failed to sign David Cotterill. It showed him up for the easy mark he was in the world of football and lost him a great deal of credibility. File under conclusively known unable person (FUCKUP).
If what happened in the final throes of Doncaster’s reign shows the damage that an ineffective CE can wreak, then the startling upward change in the club’s fortunes that was engendered by McNally (and Alan Bowkett, to give him his props), underlines what a difference a good one makes, and how much getting it right matters.
There is a school of thought that having a strong, effective CE is more important than the managerial appointment. You could point at Southampton and Swansea as examples of how a good structure, a vision and a coherent plan matter more than the man who implements it all at the sharp end.
So let’s hope for the best, or don’t rule out McNally returning like a Terminator to eliminate the newer version of himself.
You can follow Richard Jeffery on twitter at @twitchut
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