NORWICH CITY chief executive David McNally has again cast doubt over the future of Chris Hughton by hinting that the Canaries have identified potential replacements.
McNally suggested last week that he could give Hughton no guarantees as regards his future and he has added intrigue by adding that it's imperative of him to be aware of alternatives.
"It would be almost delinquent of the football club to not be aware of potential candidates if for any reason your manager left," said McNally.
"If results are not good enough you have to be aware of who is out there to help. You look at the market and who might be right for Norwich.
"If we needed to make a change – and the average tenure of a Premier League manager is about a year and a half, which puts Chris in the top six or top eight longest-serving right now – then if a change was necessary, it wouldn't be a case of, who are the contenders? It would be a case of reviewing what is required, where are we going and who is best placed to take the club forward."
Norwich currently sit 16th in the Premier League table, one point off the drop zone. There is a sense of urgency around their forthcoming matches as they face a tricky run-in with Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal their final four opponents.
"If we believe Chris is the right man to take the club forward then we stick with that," said McNally, again with a choice of words that will raise eyebrows. "It is fine margins in our sport and what you have to be sure of is a guaranteed improvement."
Meanwhile, McNally said he had no problem with Wes Hoolahan's eagerness to leave before the close of the transfer window but suggested that his PR tactics and a change of agent worked against him.
Hoolahan went public on his anger at being under-utilised by Hughton and had interest from Aston Villa but Norwich refused to play ball.
"I have no issues whatsoever with Wes," said McNally. "I understand his position. I believe he understands Norwich's position as well.
"I think there was a change in adviser and that is Wes' prerogative but, as we both know, in football, agents normally only earn money if a transaction takes place and you get your player to leave. That is not a complaint, just the reality of the game, so I don't think either Wes or the football club were helped by the new adviser and his PR tactics. It did unsettle Wes but his response since has been terrific.
"We felt there were some things said in the media that were unnecessary, but we would have done the deal if we were happy. It is business; it is not personal. If we had decided we were comfortable in selling Wes then we would have sold him to the highest bidder. We have no issues in dealing with Aston Villa. We have dealt with that with them directly and we move on now."
"We made it clear to Wes that he was in our plans for this year and the future. That said, in football you can be given an offer you cannot refuse and if that is the case then you don't refuse it. That would have been the second element of the matter we would have had to consider and the final element would have been trying to get a replacement because he is a unique footballer in that No 10 position and they are difficult to find.
"They were huge hurdles to overcome and I always felt there was less than 1pc chance of him leaving."