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Canaries await a manager to help club spread its wings

HOW Delia Smith created one of the most iconic moments of Norwich City's recent history when, perhaps a trifle tired and certainly rather emotional, she took to the field at half-time during a defeat by Manchester City with a microphone in hand and bellowed:

Bryan Gunn insists Norwich fans are passionate. Picture: Getty
Bryan Gunn insists Norwich fans are passionate. Picture: Getty

"Let's be 'avin you!" to a mildly bemused public.

Not exactly bringing the thunder back the way Neil Lennon would like and possibly something that the Celtic manager will bear in mind should the East Anglian club, most certainly admiring of the work he has carried out at the Scottish champions, come calling with an offer of employment in the summer.

Bryan Gunn, who has had spells at Norwich in the guise of goalkeeper, manager and even head of sponsorship, insists the Carrow Road club is no Sleepy Hollow, though. Indeed he points to another landmark moment in their rich history as a sure sign of what could really be achieved with a committed support that is more than willing to mobilise behind a manager and team working in perfect harmony.

The one-time Scotland internationalist was between the sticks in Bayern Munich's old Olympic Stadium on the evening of October 20, 1993, when an outrageous volley from Jeremy Goss and a Mark Bowen header secured a celebrated 2-1 victory and laid the foundations for a match with Internazionale in the third round of the UEFA Cup.

Supporters of Norwich dream of reaching those giddy heights again and Gunn, even though the current team is mired in an ominous-looking relegation battle in the Barclays Premier League, believes it is more than possible with a board that was prepared last summer to spend almost £14m on a strike pairing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper alone and is making all the right noises with regard to future investment.

Success in Europe remains the main target for Lennon at Celtic, with the SPFL Premiership no longer providing the challenge it once did. Should current manager Neil Adams fail to keep Norwich up in these closing weeks of the season, it seems fair to suggest Norwich would no longer possess anything capable of tempting Lennon away.

However, Gunn says Norwich and their followers have never given up on their dream of conquering foreign fields again and believes any young, ambitious coach capable of taking them there will be afforded the freedom of the city and more.

"While I do not believe Neil Adams should be discounted from staying in position, Neil [Lennon's] name is one being heavily featured for the manager's job along with the likes of Malky Mackay," he said.

"Celtic do have the Champions League, of course, but the challenge in Scotland is weak and they have won the league with umpteen games to spare. You do wonder what else he can do at Celtic now other than take the club to the latter stages of a European competition.

"It is really down to what his long-term ambitions are, but there's a lot there at Norwich. The next step is to get them competing for the cups, but the club has qualified for Europe in the past and that is something they should be looking at again.

"If someone could lead the club back into European competition or win a cup and give those fans something to be proud of, that would put him into the category of having legendary status.

"There is a great bond between Norwich fans and their team. I know what happened with Delia that night at Carrow Road, but she was just showing her own passion for the club and she has spent half her lifetime supporting and funding it.

"As we speak, they are fighting for their lives with five games in the Premier League left and that's the first battle, but it could, potentially, be a great club to walk into. There is a fantastic support and the finances are in order now. There is talk of a new stand being built and a great, purpose-built training facility.

"They just need a manager to take them to the next level. I was the manager myself and I can tell you that showing players around the training ground, letting them know the history and showing them the area are all great selling points.

"If Neil received an offer, I am sure he would challenge the board of directors to put the transfer kitty down in black and white, but the board have done their best to support their managers in the transfer market and they broke the club record last summer. Some can argue over whether it was the wrong player, but who is to say Van Wolfswinkel and Hooper won't hit it off next season?

"Neil also has a connection with the chief executive Dave McNally, who used to be at Celtic, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out after these five games are up."

Lennon's former Celtic team-mate Paul Lambert is proof that Norwich can also be used as a stepping stone, the Scot having won promotion to the top flight after replacing Gunn and later moving on to Aston Villa.

"Paul wore his heart on his sleeve and had his own ambitions," said Gunn. "He moved on to what he thought was a higher level, but Norwich was an appealing option."

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