Norwich City have parted-company with boss Chris Hughton after the Canaries 1-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers West Brom on Saturday.
The victory took the Baggies above the Norfolk side in the Premier League table and meant that Norwich dropped to 17th place.
Youth coach Neil Adams has been put in charge of the team until the end of the season. For many the decision to sack Chris Hughton has come far too late.
Last summer was one of optimism amongst Norwich fans. In many people’s eyes, manager Hughton had been very shrewd in the transfer market.
The exciting arrival of Dutch international pair Leroy Fer and Ricky van Wolfswinkel and promising young winger Nathan Redmond pointed to a bright season.
I had Norwich down as a team that could very easily gain a place in the top ten this season, unfortunately results and style of play this season have been very disappointing.
Norwich could be in major trouble this season, as the Canaries prepare to visit 18th place Fulham at the weekend. The Cottagers had looked dead and buried until a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday suddenly saw Felix Magath’s team move off the bottom of the league.
Fulham are now just five points behind Norwich in the table and a Cottagers win on Saturday could move the Canaries dangerously close to the drop zone. Fulham’s experienced German boss Magath does have a history of performing great escapes and the Cottagers will see the Norwich game as a chance to make up ground on the teams above them.
The problem for Norwich is that their last four games come against top six teams. The Canaries daunting end of season schedule sees them face Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Not a fixture list to relish for a Norwich team that seems low on confidence.
The next five games will decide whether the Canaries will be a Premier League team next season, or not. Looking at the fixtures it is hard to see them picking many points in their last four games.
I have always liked Chris Hughton and the way he conducts himself, especially working under trying conditions at Newcastle. He has always come across as a decent coach and a decent human being. However, being decent is sometimes not enough in the cut-throat world of the Premier League.
Hughton is what I would call a solid coach. The former-Newcastle boss is somebody that has the ability to steady a ship, but he is not somebody that is ever going to create a team with great flair or excitement.
Even steadying the Norwich ship has become too much for Hughton in recent months. The Canaries decent home form has kept their heads above water, but it is plain to see for everybody that Norwich have underachieved, after spending big by Norwich standards in the summer.
The Norwich board gave Hughton the transfer kitty to move the team forwards. However, the Canaries have gone backwards and if they do not defeat Fulham then they could be going downwards.
The decision seems like a logical one, but the timing of the decision is not. With just five games to go a man with little managerial experience Neil Adams, has been given the task of trying to inspire the Canaries to unlikely victories over some of the top teams in the country.
The decision to sack Hughton at this stage of the season is a major gamble by the Norwich board. Maybe they think that a change of boss may inspire a fresh impetus for the rest of the season. If the gamble backfires then they will have to be prepared for the stark reality of Championship football next season.
Norwich are a club I have great fondness for. Maybe that fondness stems from memories of the Canaries European triumph over Bayern Munich from my childhood. I still remember Jeremy Goss’ goal to this day.
Unfortunately for the Canaries those days are well gone. Their fans will have to strap themselves in for an end of season journey that could be very bumpy. The Canaries are now odds of 6/5 to be relegated.
In the end though, the Canaries board’s faith in Chris Hughton may just see the side from Norfolk return to the second tier of English football next season.
Should Norwich have sacked Chris Hughton sooner?