Savvy rants (but also raves) about our departed CEO David McNally…
Only those on the inside know what`s been going on in the Norwich City boardroom over the weekend at Carrow Road. From a fan`s point of view, putting it bluntly, it looks like a total shambles.
That David McNally chose to not only resign before this seasons` outcome has been decided (which could further destabilise the team), but to do it via Twitter in a Tweet to a 17 year old fan, before retracting it, then re-resigning beggars belief and has yet again turned our club into somewhat of a laughing stock, less than 72 hours before a huge game.
A lot of work is required now to smooth over the tumultuous events at board level this season, and prepare for what is yet again looking like a pivotal season in the second tier (albeit it is conceivable we could still survive).
Whilst there may have been a clear strategy in place at the start of this season, it looks more like the club has lurched from one uncontrolled event to another. From not having a full scouting team in place during the summer, to the well-respected and impressive Alan Bowkett leaving expectantly after the AGM, followed by the divisive appointment of Ed Balls to the role of Chairman (replacing Bowkett), Stephen Fry’s departure and not forgetting the promotion of Delia Smith`s (some would say) ill-qualified but likeable nephew to the Board.
Whether McNally is another symptom of this or the cause, it`s impossible to tell, but we do know that despite everything Norwich City history is likely to be kind to the man from Bromsgrove.
After all, he was instrumental, along with Bowkett, in restructuring the clubs` debt and securing our future in 2009, and perhaps most famously of all he was the key man in replacing Bryan Gunn with Paul Lambert as manager, a decision that totally rejuvenated the club and led to some of the most marvellous times in living memories for City fans. His decisive action in replacing Neil Adams with Alex Neil also resulted in our first trip to Wembley for 30 years, and one of the best City performances on a big occasion I have ever seen.
McNally is probably a future member of our Hall of Fame.
However, for all his positive attributes, sadly he appears to be somewhat of a flawed genius. Clearly a smart financier, commercially minded and astute, he was a tough negotiator but also a calm public speaker who came across well on radio/TV.
Chinks in the armour first appeared when Lambert left rather acrimoniously in 2012 – rumoured to have never got on with each other, the departure didn`t work out well for any party and as a fan, it`s impossible to daydream as to what might have been. Perhaps the issues contributing to Lambert`s departure are still there now and perhaps still contributing to our less than stellar performance on player recruitment since Lambert left.
McNally pretty much ran the show at NR1. As head of the ‘football board` he oversaw all of the player recruitment, setting the budget, agreeing targets with the manager, taking the lead in negotiations for everything (apparently for each and every loan and permanent signing, no matter how small). Despite not being Chairman, he also seemed to be running the Board, making all the decisions about managers and other football recruitment, along with overseeing all of the commercial performance from the ground up, talking at length about his desire to improve the sales and marketing performance whilst speaking at the AGM.
He could never resist the occasional inflammatory Tweet, often unwisely engaging with those high on emotion after a defeat. There were unsubstantiated rumours some agents refused to deal with him, and there was the public row with Grant Holt regarding a new contract, not to mention the Brady debacle in the summer. Then there was the over-reaction to the new kit leaking out when the systems were hacked at Carrow Road, followed by the public climb down. A regrettable episode.
In short, it appears as though he wanted control of everything. He was one of the highest paid Execs of any football club in England (he has been in the top 5 since 2012), which for a club of our size is absolutely astonishing, but arguably he was doing the jobs of 2 or 3 people, which was possibly just too much.
He was however paid handsomely. Whilst most fans would not begrudge our number one Exec a bonus when things are going well, it was the bonus paid to McNally in the 13/14 relegation season (for achieving financial objectives) that really irked with some. On top of his not unsubstantial base salary of around £500,000, he was paid c.£600,000 for a season of total failure, when many thought that it was his indecision to act by not sacking Chris Hughton that ultimately cost us our top flight position. At best, it was just a smidgeon of entitlement -at its worst it was morally reprehensible greed. Someone who had the clubs` best interest at heart would not have taken all of that bonus and it`s still surprising that he didn`t receive a rougher ride from fans than he did on the issue, save for a few murmurs of discontent at 2014` AGM.
Lest we forget, he also seemingly made the decision to appoint the wrong man in Neil Adams once we were relegated, coining the much maligned “we scoured Europe to find the best manager” line, which many now think actually meant that “we scoured Colney because that was the cheapest option.’
So, a brilliant man, well respected in football and with a likely long-lasting legacy of relative success at Norwich City.
But also, a megalomaniac, attention loving, greedy, a control freak who was unable to delegate effectively, who at heart was not a Norwich supporter, and who arguably was more interested in self-fulfilment rather than the progress of Norwich City.
Perhaps best thought of as like a player. Players come and go, are heroes one minute and villains the next. The club is bigger than its players and it`s bigger than its CEO.
McNally`s time was arguably up – his approach hadn`t took us any further forward since the fall out with Lambert in 2012, and for the clear mistakes in preparation for this season it was right that he did not receive another half million pound bonus for failure, and it was right that he stepped aside when he did.