A look at possible candidates to be the new head coach at Norwich City, all options here are currently working in the Championship.
Norwich City’s season has come to an early end after the club failed to reach the Championship play-offs. Although, an eighth-place finish was far from a disastrous season it certainly fell short of the expectations to finish in the top six at the very least.
Nevertheless, the end of the season has come as a relief for many people connected with the club from players to pundits to fans. Attention now shifts to finding a new head coach, a job that fundamentally lays at the door of new Sporting Director, Stuart Webber.
Fans all have a different view on who the new man should be, and it remains unclear which names are definitely under consideration. However, Webber remains confident of making the appointment by the end of this month (May 2017), as revealed in a recent interview on the club’s official website.
So, now seems a good a time as any to review some of the possible options. This particular list will focus on options current employed with Championship clubs. Depending on the success of this piece, there may well be a follow-up that looks at foreign options. Now that is all out of the way, let’s get stuck into the options.
1. Garry Monk (Leeds United)
Garry Monk is believed to feature highly on the list of desirable choices as far as Norwich City is concerned. Monk has impressed this season with Leeds United in a season that his current team only narrowly missed out on a play-off place. This hasn’t been seen as a failure by any means as the play-offs would have been a bonus rather than an expectation for the club.
Norwich are ideally looking for a young option that would be prepared to work with a Sporting Director and he seems to fit that at just 38. One of the really big plus points he has is experience of both the Championship and Premier League, which fits perfectly with what the Canaries are looking for. The English coach has enjoyed a 47% win ratio with Leeds that demonstrates what a capable operator he is at this level.
Previously, he was in charge of Swansea City in the Premier League and performed well for most of his time. It was his first job in the game and he ended up getting the sack with the club struggling near the bottom of the league. One suspects though that he has now put all of that behind him and might relish a new challenge with Norwich City - if the club could agree compensation with Leeds.
2. David Wagner (Huddersfield Town)
It is believed that this won’t happen as Stuart Webber said at an early stage that it wasn’t on the cards. However, never say never in football and until the club makes an appointment no one can say for sure. Certainly, David Wagner can be proud of his season so far of getting Huddersfield Town to the play-offs that certainly wasn’t on the cards at the start of the season.
Obviously, Webber has arrived at Norwich from Huddersfield and it’s natural to think that Wagner may be coming in as well. One suspects though that the USA/German coach is destined for bigger things in the near future and the Premier League or similar level will be on the cards. The Canaries obviously offer potential but he may well be looking for more than that.
The 45-year-old has certainly seen his coaching career develop quickly with the way his team has performed this season both with results and performances. Even if his current team do fall in the play-offs it’s been far from a failed season. Wagner’s win ratio has been 45% and that’s a decent upgrade on the 35% he managed with Borussia Dortmund ll.
3. Slavisa Jokanovic (Fulham)
There is no doubt that Slavisa Jokanovic would be an exceptional choice for Norwich City, but he isn’t someone that has been talked about a great deal. First of all, Who Scored data gives us some indication to how his Fulham side plays that would be very appealing to Norwich fans; Fulham have had the most shots on average per game at 15.5 in the Championship, they also have the highest average possession of 59.1%.
Webber has been keen to point out that the next head coach will need to have a clearly defined playing style and those numbers certainly suggest that. It’s no surprise that his current team also have the most crosses at 23 and short passes at 519 per game. The man himself fits the mould of being a young coach (under 50) and would allow Norwich to embrace the idea of having their first foreign head coach.
Jokanovic also has a previous record in the Championship by winning promotion with Watford with a 58.3% win ratio. It was certainly a surprise that Watford let him go after that, but he has found a new home in West London. The Canaries will certainly be keeping a close eye on the play-offs and hoping Fulham fail to win promotion; such a result could give them an opportunity to poach the Serbian coach.
4. Paul Heckingbottom (Barnsley)
Barnsley coach Paul Heckingbottom is the only one on this list that has a connection to Norwich City. As a player in 2002-2003, Heckingbottom had a brief spell with the club when he didn’t play as often he would have liked. A lot of his career was spent in the lower leagues of English football, but he could be destined for something far greater as a manager.
So far, the Barnsley job is the first one that he has had in management and the structure of it has been interesting as well. He has had two spells as a caretaker manager before finally getting the job of a full-time basis. A combination of the games he has taken charge of (73) has seen him come out with a 41% win ratio.
What can be said about the man though is he would likely relish the opportunity to take charge of Norwich City. Barnsley have enjoyed a solid season in the Championship this season by securing a 14th place finish. It’s unclear how much better things might get at that club and certainly they have started to lose some of their best players – so Heckingbottom may well be looking for a new challenge this summer.
5. Dean Smith (Brentford)
So, Dean Smith isn’t really a name that has been mentioned with this vacancy but perhaps that is a mistake. Norwich have spoken about wanting a squad that is young and have numbers that are more sensible. At the moment, instead, the squad has an average age over 28 and a squad size with the same number.
Information on the Brentford squad from Transfermarkt demonstrates that the Bees have what the Canaries are looking for with an average age of 25 and a squad size of 23. Smith is obviously the manager in charge and would clearly enjoy moulding a similar type of squad at Norwich. At 46, he certainly meets the criteria of being a manager under 50.
Prior to being the Brentford manager, he had a lengthy spell with Walsall where he had a win ratio of only 32%. However, he has improved on that at his current club with a 40% win ratio and may well be ready for the next stage of his career. Brentford also rank in the top six for shots and the top half for possession, further suggesting that Smith is someone that could operate at a higher level.
There will be intense speculation over the next two or three weeks until an appointment is made. A lot of that speculation is purely guesswork and few people seem to have accurate information on who is under genuine consideration. In fact, many of the so-called insiders have proved to be well wide of the mark with their suggestions since Alex Neil has been sacked.
This piece should also not be considered any kind of inside information. Instead, it is purely a matter of discussing some of the possibilities. Norwich may also have to wait before they can make an approach since the play-offs may well play a part.
What we can stay for sure though is that the Canaries have been determined to spend their time in order to get this right. Part of that process included the appointment of a Sporting Director and the head coach is the final part of the puzzle needed. What this does mean though is there will be far less allowance from fans if it doesn’t work in the long-term.