THE CANDIDATES

13/03/17

Jon Punt and Andrew Lawn run the rule over the potential runners and riders for the vacant manager's job at Carrow Road, including the obvious names and some that are more in the Alex Neil from Hamilton mould.

Danny Cowley**Andy's pick**

The former PE teacher, alongside his brother Nicky has burst into the national spotlight this season by taking on-league Lincoln City (a good example of a famous league club who dropped out of the league and have yet to return) to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup, but his credentials as a manager extend to much more than a memorable cup run.

Cowely's managerial career began at Concord Rangers before his 30th birthday. 3 promotions in 6 seasons took Concord from the Essex Senior Football League to the National League South, two rungs below the Football League, as well as the FA Cup 1st Round for the first time in their history.

His success at Concord saw him offered the Braintree Town job in 2015, taking the part-timers to the National League Play-Offs and their highest ever finish in his only season in charge. Bigger things beckoned and Cowley moved on to Lincoln City, where he has led a team who finished 13th last season to 6 points clear at the top of the league, alongside their historic cup run. Meanwhile, without Cowley at the helm, Braintree have slumped back into the relegation zone.

Cowley would undoubtedly be a risk, but his remarkable success surely earns him the right to be considered and it may just be that now is the best chance City will get to grab a manager who appears destined for the very top.

Darrell Clarke

A name that hasn't been mentioned much, but a potentially excellent option for City. The Bristol Rovers manager, who Leeds United were desperate to appoint before turning to Garry Monk back in August, is in his second managerial position, having over-achieved at Salisbury, taking them to promotion and the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, and then again after stepping up to Bristol Rovers.

The Gasheads were in a downward spiral when Clarke took over in March 2014, but despite winning his first game was unable to save them from relegation to the Conference. However, unlike most clubs who drop out of the league, Clarke oversaw a mass clear out, releasing 16 and signing 13 new players before leading them back at the first time of asking. A similar summer beckons at Carrow Road. Clarke's Rovers kicked on and clinched a successive promotion, with a last minute final day winner. The Gasheads rapid rise under Clarke looks set to continue, with Rovers sat in 8th place, 4 points of the Play-Offs this campaign, a third consecutive promotion is far from out of the question.

Roy Hodgson

The proverbial safe pair of hands. After gaining a large degree of experience in international waters with Halmstad, Malmo, the Swiss national side and Inter Milan, Hodgson enjoyed varying degrees of success in England. His personality and style seems suited to medium sized teams, demonstrated by the spells he enjoyed at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion.

The fact he failed to meaningfully impact things while in charge of an England side may be a stain on his CV, but many before him have failed spectacularly too. However, his ill-fated stint at Anfield may suggest he struggles to manage elite players. Luckily if he was interested in the vacancy this isn't a difficulty he'd be likely to encounter anytime soon.

Famously he's also friends with Delia and MWJ. Whether this would help or hinder proceedings should Hodgson start to falter is anyone's guess, but given the protracted way in which Neil was left to go about his business, you'd sense the owners would find it even more difficult to get shot of a personal friend.
Given his age, Hodgson may no longer fancy a full-time gig in the dugout, but would make an interesting appointment as Director of Football if that is a structure we are looking at.

Alan Pardew

For the love of god, please no. Put the dad-dancing and ridiculous cravats to one side for a moment and look at Pardew's CV. Success at Reading meant he was given a chance at West Ham - he was sacked after a stint which went from the joy of promotionto one of the worst run of results in the club's history.
Charlton then beckoned and after failing to muster any hopes of a survival bid, relegation from the Premier League was followed by Championship mediocrity. After almost 2 years at the helm he left by 'mutual consent', so obviously he was sacked.

Southampton was next up, fall outs with players and the chairman meant he was sacked. Again.

And then there was Newcastle. 8 year contracts, Premier League manager of the season awards, vociferous abuse from fans and head butting opposition players. It was a tumultuous time for Pardew in the North East. Seemingly however he fell out with the owner and he was London bound. His former club Crystal Palace awaited.

His time at Selhurst Park began well, with a fluid and expansive style of football complemented by pacey players and a visit to Wembley for an FA Cup final. However, the 2015-16 season was nearly disastrous. A 14 game winless run looked like plunging Palace into a relegation dogfight until, you guessed it, Along Come Norwich. However, the next term didn't offer any real signs of improvement, and so he was sacked.

So, we have a man with a wealth of experience, who usually starts well, then is sacked after anywhere between 18 months to 3 years. That's not what Norwich need right now, and the sense is he'd want to manage the club from top to bottom, rather than be shoe horned into the club's new football structure.

Michael O'Neill

Not fancied by many, perhaps because of his penchant for actually playing Kyle Lafferty, the Northern Ireland manager doesn't boast a particularly illustrious CV. Shamrock Rovers and Brechin City enjoyed his talents before he moved into international management and it could be questioned as to how he'd deal with a more talented pool of players at his disposal.

Nevertheless, getting Norn Iron to an international tournament shows there's promise.

Simon Grayson

Predominantly managing clubs "oop noorf" up until now, Grayson has turned around a Preston North End side that were in serious danger of slipping into League Two in recent years. A dramatic change in fortunes and notable results against some of the top sides in the Championship this term have seen Grayson's stock rise sharply.

Whether his workmanlike and more agricultural style of play would suit the mystical 'Norwich way' is questionable, but he certainly wouldn't take any prisoners in a summer Colney clear out.

Tim Sherwood

No thanks. Move along, nothing to see here Timmy.

Left field options

Rather than appointing a manager we already know everything about, what about a left field option over someone who has stepped on and off the managerial merry-go-round? Much to the chagrin of Paul Merson, Ryan Giggs and Phil Thompson, managers who have found success elsewhere in the world can work wonders in England too, for example, note the rapid turnaround in fortunes at Hull City under Marco Silva.

Di Cunningham, who predicted Alex Neil long before most of the Canary nation had heard of him, offered some excellent suggestions on Radio Norfolk this week, including current England Ladies manager, Mark Sampson who took the Lionesses to the Semi-Finals of the recent World Cup.

Or how about Julian Nagelsman, the 29 year old who saved TDG 1899 Hoffenheim from Bundesliga relegation last term and has them flying high in 4th place this? Staying in Germany, Nico Kovac left Croatia in 2016 and has fired Eintracht Frankfurt from perennial Bundesliga strugglers to 5th this term.

Di also named Lucien Favre, currently enjoying a fantastic season at OGC Nice in Ligue 1, having got bored of waiting for Everton to decide if they wanted him or Koeman last summer.

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