Neil Adams’ decision to resign as manager of Norwich City could see Mike Phelan transition into a role he may have always been earmarked for.
A former Norwich City player with 156 appearances to his name for the Canaries and one-time assistant manager at the club to Gary Megson in the mid-90s, Mike Phelan’s appointment as caretaker manager in the wake of Neil Adams’ resignation should be of little surprise.
Though on paper his move into the role is being labelled as temporary, the reality is that the former Manchester United assistant manager has been earmarked for big things for some time.
After all, earlier in the season the ex-Red Devils coach, who had been out of the game since leaving Old Trafford in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, was being touted for any number of jobs.
Birmingham were chief among those thought to be keen on recruiting the 52-year-old, who was the early favourite to succeed the recently-sacked Lee Clark at the club.
But despite his record of success, Phelan lost out to fellow frontrunner and former Blues defender Gary Rowett – but was the ex-Manchester United man waiting for something better?
Financially stricken, Birmingham represent a tricky project and while it’s understandably one that would appeal to Rowett, who was previously in charge at League Two side Burton, it’s a different story for title-winning Phelan.
Norwich, by contrast, were a club with an abundance of riches in the Championship and a squad ready-made for promotion, which is perhaps why Phelan jumped at the chance to take up a coaching role, despite previously being linked to several managerial posts.
Brought into the club on the back of a run that saw the Canaries win just one in eight, those behind the scenes at Carrow Road may have already been fearing the worst for Neil Adams, who had remained at the helm of the team despite Norwich’s relegation last term.
Though he can hardly be blamed for the situation he was left in by previous manager Chris Hughton, a total of 10 wins from the team’s first 24 games in the Championship represented a poor return for a squad bursting with capable players.
It would certainly appear that Norwich are plotting a quiet shift around in terms of personnel with the announcement of Adams’ resignation also containing the caveat that he would return "to work for the Club in July, in a role to be confirmed at a later date.”
Whether that involves Phelan taking the Norwich job on a permanent basis remains to be seen but for the time being the club hero is well positioned to do just that, with upcoming auditions against AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City potentially decisive.