Norwich City, Facebook And A Gunn

So, was it the 4-0 thrashing of Barnsley in his first game as caretaker manager at Norwich that got him the job? Or, was it a Facebook campaign started by a 17-year-old girl that won Bryan Gunn the role?

Bryan Gunn was appointed Norwich City boss for the rest of the 2008/2009 season yesterday, one game after being made interim boss following the sacking of previous incumbent Glenn Roeder last week.

Gunn is considered a legend at Norwich for his many years of service and has been associated with the Carrow Road outfit since 1986 when he signed as a backup goalkeeper. He played for the Canaries for twelve years and has also been employed in various other roles such as club liaison, member of the hospitality and catering staff, goalkeeping coach and even the 2002 Sheriff of Norwich(!).

When Gunn was initially handed the role as interim manager it was thought he would not be considered a contender for the post full-time, and so the directors at Norwich went separately about the business of profiling and compiling a shortlist of coaches that could potentially succeed Roeder. Paul Ince was one name thought to be on that list.

In Gunn’s first game as caretaker boss, Norwich – a club struggling near the bottom of the Championship and without a win in five games, hammered Barnsley 4-0 to move away from the dropzone, their biggest winning margin of the season.

Though clearly an impressive way to introduce himself as a potential candidate for the top job, Gunn was still not thought to be in with a chance of being appointed manager. Indeed in his post-match press conference there was even a hint that he considered the temporary role to have already been completed. ‘Being in charge was an amazing experience and one I really enjoyed,’ he stated with an element of finality that appeared conclusive.

Social-network power

What came next however was a chain of events that, though trivial, appear to have ended up in part shaping and influencing Bryan Gunn’s immediate future, to whatever extent. In keeping with the nuances of this our technological age, Melissa Gunn, Bryan’s teenage daughter, decided to take the matter of helping sway the board’s decision over the next Norwich City manager into her own hands by setting up a group on the social-networking site Facebook.

Calling it simply ‘Bryan Gunn for manager,’ she launched the campaign, ‘as a way to support my dad and show how much I believe he is right for the job.’

‘He loves this club – and being manager would be the icing on the cake of an extraordinary career at Norwich City and would fulfil many of the ambitions and dreams which he has always kept close to him,’ added Melissa in what proved a glowing, and for the Norwich City board perhaps decisive, character reference of her father.

Started no doubt as an innocent but no less loving tribute to her Dad, the group reached 2,000 members within days of its creation, joined by a string of Norwich fans keen to see a former hero handed the manager’s role on a longer-term basis.

And what do you know, two days later Bryan Gunn was appointed new Canaries boss, the dreams of his daughter fulfilled. Did the affectionate campaign and its subsequent publicity, details of which reached the national press, end up pushing Norwich City and Bryan Gunn Cupid-like into each others arms?

Well, what is clear is that until the campaign was started the board were a lot blinder to a solution that was ultimately sitting right under their noses. Gunn, though privately keen, was not publicly thought to covet the job, happy just to help out fleetingly the club he loves in whichever way possible. The Norwich City board meanwhile, continued to eye up potential candidates even after the 4-0 win over Barnsley, and had not stopped to consider Gunn as anything other than a stopgap.

It is certainly feasible to put forward the notion therefore that, having learnt of the growing support for Gunn to be named boss via a Facebook campaign started by a 17-year-old girl, the club’s directors discovered a new option, reconsidered the whole situation and Bryan Gunn has ended up as the new Norwich City manager.

The augmenting link between technology and football is not an entirely new concept, as this previous article demonstrates. Players have been released for leaking moves on Facebook, clubs have been bought and rejuvenated by online communities (Ebbsfleet United), and now this. In what ways will this new-found link between football and this new age of social-networking manifest itself next, if at all? Have your say, leave a comment.

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