With pre-season up and running the changes may soon be coming thick and fastSun 6 Jul 14 by Gary Gowers
Callum Wilson’s decision to make Dean Court rather than Carrow Road home for the foreseeable was, in truth, a sensible and laudable one.
By heading south rather than east the ex-Coventry man has assured himself plenty of game time, ironically as the replacement for new City recruit Lewis Grabban. That some of our number chose to interpret his decision as a slight on Neil Adams merely indicates on which side of the Carrow Road fence they sit.
Instead, most telling about Adams’ unsuccessful pursuit of Wilson is that he sees the need to further strengthen his striking department. The purchases of Grabban and Kyle Lafferty suggested his work in this area may have been done, but clearly not.
But while, in conversation with the EDP, the City boss insisted it doesn’t necessarily mean existing strikers have to depart to make way for the new signings, it’s inconceivable that Messrs van Wolfswinkel, Hooper and Becchio will all be happy to sit tight and wait patiently for their opportunity.
Something has to give and my suspicion, for what it’s worth, is that Hooper will be the first to blink. We’ll see.
In the same interview Adams also confessed that he perceives the midfield as the ’strongest area at present’; the inference being his attention has already turned to strengthening the defence.
Russell Martin’s ‘promotion’ to number 5 would suggest that Adams sees his Canary future as a central defender rather than a right-back, but having been bleating to anyone who will listen (thanks again Mum) that shirt numbers are fairly meaningless I should perhaps heed my own words.
So, on that basis, I’ll also ignore the fact that while we currently have two left-backs in the squad, neither Javier Garrido or Martin Olsson have been offered shirt number 3.
But, on the subject of Olsson, news that West Ham’s pursuit of him is ‘dead in the water‘ following their signing of Ipswich Town’s Aaron Cresswell can only be a good thing. While it seems likely the Swede is on the radar of others, this small win for City has hopefully set the tone for the coming weeks and months.
City are clearly not in a position of having to sell, and if those in the sights of some Premier League teams – like Olsson – show the stomach for a forthcoming Championship battle, then the message it sends out to the rest of Adams’ squad is a positive one. And if it means putting one over Suffolk’s finest in the process…
Interestingly, if we assume for a moment that Martin’s future is in the centre of defence, it leaves only Steven Whittaker as a bona fide right-back. Given the struggles of both last season in holding down that particulate berth, if I were a betting man I’d wager that a new right-back may well be fairly high up on the shopping list.
If Adams were to unearth one that could do on the right what Olsson did successfully on the left last season that would certainly add some zip and power down that side. Something we seldom witnessed in the Snodgrass years.
In the centre of defence one wonders if now is Ryan Bennett’s time. Since arriving in January 2012 the ex-Peterborough man has had a stop-start time in the Fine City, but when called upon has always played with a confidence and surety that promised much. That he has so far failed to deliver on a regular basis has not been helped by the occasional lapse and an all-too-lengthy list of central defensive partners.
Given an arm around his shoulder and a prolonged run in the team I’d still be confident that Bennett can become everything that Paul Lambert had promised. If we assume Sebastien Bassong’s time remaining in this parish to be of limited duration, Bennett’s challenge will be to prise himself in between Martin and Michael Turner for a starting berth.
The goalkeeping department has also seen changes this week, with coach Dave Watson opting to spare himself the embarrassment of having to face John Ruddy by instead joining the Ronald Koeman revolution at Southampton.
While, in goalkeeping circles, Watson is clearly highly-rated – his presence in Roy Hodgson’s England’s set-up confirming as much – I’m not sure this one is the hammer blow that some have perceived. His close work with Ruddy on a daily basis clearly held little clout when it came to naming the boys for Brazil; Hodgson opting for the highly selective Ben Foster (one assumes he’ll be announcing his England retirement any day soon?)
Let’s not lose sleep over this one. There are plenty of top quality goalkeeping coaches out there. Hell, Adams may have even stumbled upon one at St George’s Park this week.
And finally, and while on the subject of St George’s Park, I was delighted to see a smiling Andrew Surman in the throng of City players being put through their paces at England’s new home of football.
One can only hope it’s a positive sign and that his return to the City fold is to be a permanent and prolonged one. I’d love to see him doing ‘a Pirlo’ in the centre of the Norwich midfield.
Have I mentioned that before?
Thank goodness common sense has finally prevailed and the East Anglian derby has been returned to its original date of Saturday August 23. Just a tiny bit of consultation and a smidgen of common sense would have negated the need for Suffolk Constabulary’s embarrassing u-turn.
But – and here’s one – how about doing nothing at all, and leave it as a 3pm kick-off? Too radical?