With his squad now safely ensconced in the heart of an Austrian forest Chris Hughton is now getting his first real sight of his new players at close quarters.
Whether he likes what he sees and hears remains to be seen – although we’re unlikely to be privy to his exact thoughts.
You can pretty much guarantee that on their return from the training camp he’ll focus on the positives and give a glowing early-term report… we wouldn’t expect anything else.
Given the thoroughly decent guy that Hughton appears to be I’m not expecting too many public rants about lack of effort etc. I’m sure those, when required, will be saved for behind closed doors and will probably come with a Scottish twang.
That said, in fairness to the previous manager, one of his key criteria when making a new signing was the decency of the person behind the player. Assuming he got that right in most, if not all, cases – he did have quite a knack after all – then it’s fair to assume that Hughton and co will find themselves content with what they see.
With Sky Sports News linking us again with Robert Snodgrass and another Scot, Andy Webster – they do have 24 hours’ worth of news to fill after all – it’s fair to assume that we will see a few ins and outs in the next few weeks.
Quite whether one Mr Snodgrass will be one of the ins is still not certain by a long chalk, but if we were able to gazump Aston Villa and others in pursuit of his signature that would be one major statement of intent.
If one considers that we were priced out of this particular market back in January, when we were the only show in town, but are now apparently competing with the Premier League’s ‘middle men’ – then things they are a changing folks.
Or… perhaps I’m just dreaming. Time will tell.
Either way, there is no denying that these are heady days to be a City fan. (I hesitated to use the word heady as the last time I heard this used by a Norwich supporter was in a Munich bar soon after that 2-1 win, and we all know the story that followed. But there is no better word to describe this current time).
Paul Lambert is an overt admirer of Snodgrass and it would have been more of a surprise if Villa had not made overtures to Ken Bates and co.
However, if we were able to snatch him from under their noses then I suspect there’d be one tetchy Scot slumped in a Birmingham hotel room. Much depends I suspect on the strength of his desire to link up again with Messrs Howson and Johnson – and indeed their ability to sell the club and area.
My original point, which has long since gone down a few cul-de-sacs and dead-ends, is that does it really matter if Hughton is Mr Nice Guy and the players are good, decent upstanding men of the community?
Is it not a trait of good management that a few hard to handle ‘Herberts’ (my dad’s phrase, not mine) who provide one or two headaches off the pitch can be motivated to produce a moment or two of genius on it?
Bit of a rhetorical question I’m afraid because I don’t really know the answer… but I’m guessing that what most of us want out of this season is Premier League mediocrity (in a good way) and some football that’s pleasant to watch. If that comes with a few off-field dramas along the way do we really care?
So… with Hughton gaining many plaudits for his dealings with the media – in stark comparison to his predecessor – is this really so important?
Yes, the media may enjoy the weekly Press conferences that little bit more, but that makes no odds on a Saturday afternoon (or lunchtime or teatime or Sunday afternoon etc).
David McNally has done his bit to ensure we’re no longer the soft touch we once were at boardroom level – why shouldn’t this extend to the management and playing side also?
Let’s not get too hung up on being nice – if we want this roller-coaster ride to continue we all need to carry on doing our bit. And if that means making Carrow Road a horrible place to visit… sounds fine to me.
I’m not proposing that the N&P hard-core should turn the ‘no swearing at football’ directive on its head and turn the air a nasty shade of blue en masse – but if we could all stop being quite so fair and reasonable to our visitors that would be a start.
Winning football that’s easy on the eye… that’s what’s important. Let’s not worry too much about the other stuff. And give me a few Herberts with a winning habit any day…