With Lee Camp having just pitched up for his second tour of duty in Norfolk, attention has quickly returned to Chris Hughton and David McNally’s surprisingly public pursuit of a striker.
One suspects – despite what Neil Lennon may wish us to believe – that the global airing of City’s interest in Gary Hooper has less to do with the City hierarchy, and rather more to do with the desire of third parties who would wish to squeeze every last drop out of a possible deal. Indeed, with just eighteen months left on a current contract, the deal may end up being in the form of an improved contract. Time will tell.
Equally, the enquiries and subsequent offers for Danny Graham were revealed in a way that McNally has proved to be not of his liking. Again, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that darker forces have been at work; Sky Sports News and TalkSport willing recipients of even the slightest, the most vague titbit.
At the time of writing, it appears that if Graham does view his future away from the Liberty Stadium – a moot point after the Swans last night securing their first ever Wembley final appearance – it will most likely be in the North-East; Sunderland his probable destination, certainly in the eyes of the bookies.
This morning’s Daily Mail – make of that what you will – has reported that, in the event of Hooper (or Graham) being out of the Canaries reach, a Plan B awaits in in the form of a two pronged approach for QPR’s Jamie Mackie and Sporting Kansas’ Kei Kamara.
Whilst there was zilch in the report to suggest this is anything other than gossip (albeit I expect SSN and TalkSport to pick it up and run with it) there is no doubting that Mackie is a decent player – and one who is currently unable to force his way into Harry’s latest XI. Whether that makes him a target for Hughton or if he indeed fits the bill (he’s spent the last few seasons playing wide on the QPR right) remains to be seen.
Kamara is a curious one. A 28 year-old, 6ft 2 inch ‘bruiser’ from Sierra Leone, he had an unsuccessful pre-Christmas trial with Tony Pulis and co at Stoke – although one suspects its failure had more to do with his lack of stature than his footballing ability. A career spent mainly in the US – Kansas being his fourth MLS team – he does have something approaching a one in three scoring record, albeit how that would translate in English Premier League terms is open to debate.
One thing is certain – it would be a gamble and, given that we’re a little closer to the proverbial barrel than we’d like, perhaps now is not the time for experimentation.
When all is said and done, it appears Hooper is top of the City list and anyone else will be perceived by many as either second-best or a compromise offering. Wholly unfair on anyone who does arrive late in the window and who doesn’t answer to the name Gary (I do still have some boots in my garage), but such is the risk of doing business so publicly – however unintentional that may have been.
Twitter and the message-boards have typically been alive with discussion between City fans and those of our Scottish ‘family’ (that one lasted only slightly longer than your average holiday romance), over the best home for Mr Hooper. Some of our number having been trying to play the ‘we’re bigger than you’ game, which is just plain daft; yes, we play in a better league than Celtic, but Norwich the bigger club? I don’t think so.
The Champions League may still be a factor – who wouldn’t want the chance to play in the knockout stages of such an elite competition – and may well be Neil Lennon’s selling point, but that particular journey could only last 180 minutes. Then what? With no Rangers in town their domestic challenge is virtually non-existent.
With Tottenham said to be ‘preparing a bid’ – although I’m never sure quite how much preparation these things take – it could be that City are gazumped in the Hooper deal, but one suspects either way, it will be concluded at the eleventh hour.
Those members of the Yellow Army hoping that business in this window could be concluded quickly, ‘just like Lambert did’, have both selective memories and were always destined for disappointment. With Lennon under no pressure to sell, there seems little chance of Hooper appearing – if at all – until circa 23:59 on 31st January. In doing that he, and the ‘third parties’, will squeeze every last penny possible out of the deal.
So… all we can do is be patient and wait folks. McNally hasn’t let us down to date… I don’t see him starting now.
With Luton arriving in the fine City on Saturday, accompanied by a travelling army of 4000, we can expect a humdinger of an atmosphere. With those from Bedfordshire sure to provide a vociferous backdrop to proceedings, let’s hope we can raise our own game.
It’s fair to say the well-reported dip in form on the pitch has been matched by an equivalent dip in the performance of the Yellow Army; not away from home – that continues to be magnificent – but certainly at Carrow Road.
So let’s make Saturday the turning point for us all; no more of this ‘We are Premier League’ complacency, instead a raucous and unconditional backing to anything and everything in yellow. And please… let’s not subject the away fans to the usual, ‘What’s it like so see a crowd’.
Not big or clever… we’re better than that aren’t we?