So, stats time.
Three recent seasons – 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 – plus, at the time of writing, one game played in that league in this 2015/16 campaign.
Four managers and 115 games. But how many different players do you think have made at least one Premier League appearance for the Canaries since that 1-1 draw at Wigan back on August 13, 2011?
It includes the likes of Russell Martin, Wes Hoolahan and John Ruddy, the weekend’s debutant, Robbie Brady, through to the improbable and almost forgotten figures of Jonas Gutierrez, Joseph Yobo and Kei “heart-shaped hands” Kamara. Plus who could forget the one and only Adam Drury who put in a few very decent shifts under Paul Lambert back in the 2011/12 campaign.
Of those 48 players who have made at least one Premier League appearance for us since August 2011, seventeen remain at the club at the time of writing. So there is plenty of top level experience in and around Carrow Road – an inarguable fact.
What is, of course, up for grabs at the moment, is whether or not that experience is matched by their ability to shine at Premier League level.
But it’s not them or that well-worn exchange of views I am concerned about here. There have been, are, and will be numerous arguments, debates and even occasional handbags offered about which of those is capable and which aren’t. And I note that, after the Palace game, quite a few of them have been written-off already.
And that includes pretty much every member of the defence as far as most of the posters on one particular club message-board seem to be concerned.
But I’m digressing.
Simple maths then. Seventeen of them are still with us which means that a total of 30 players who have made at least one Premier League appearance for us since August 2011 have since moved on to other things.
And, of that 30, how many do you think are still at Premier League clubs this season?
The answer may surprise you. It certainly surprised me.
It’s five. That’s correct, just five. And three of those – Ritchie De Laet, Kyle Naughton and Harry Kane – weren’t even our own players.
The only two who used to be our own players and who might, for that reason, be hoping to play against us at some point this season in a Premier League game are Mark Bunn (and, arguably, he won’t anyway as he’s now rivalling another ex-Canary in Jed Steer for a place on the bench at Villa Park) and Andrew Surman; the latter all too easily released by us last summer and has since gone on to make a return of his own with Bournemouth, the player who, according to one Cherries fan I contacted, “made them tick” throughout last season.
But too lightweight for us a year ago it would seem. Sorry, I’m digressing again.
What does that 5 out of 30 statistic tell you (apart from the fact that I clearly have too much time on my hands and an unhealthy interest in MS Excel)?
It makes me think, again, of the damn it to hell for all eternity transfer window. And our everlasting quest to add ‘Premier League quality’ to the squad, which, as I suggested in my previous column is a lot harder to propose, speculate and demand than it is to achieve in reality.
And it doesn’t matter how ambitious the club is, or purports to be, if a player (or, just as likely, his agent) doesn’t fancy Norwich, then he isn’t going to come here.
And no amount of caterwauling or protest is going to change all that. You think Patrick Bamford would even have considered coming here, the moment he knew that Palace were interested?
Not. A. Chance.
For the average player, a move to Crystal Palace means London and all that it entails. A move to Norwich is more about asking just exactly where it is, and how far is it from London.
Remember Keith O’Neill’s famous phrase about how the only good thing to come out of Norwich was the road to London? Shortly after he made that claim, he left us for Middlesbrough. That’s the Middlesbrough that’s is around 250 miles from London as opposed to Norwich which is less than half that distance away.
On Planet Football, Norwich is seen as such an unfashionable place to be that you take the first offer to get out and get out while you can. And if the one and only offer at the time comes from Middlesbrough then that’s where you’ll happily end up.
Take Rudy Gestede as a modern day example. We were heavily linked with him at the beginning of the summer; indeed, I strongly suspect he was one of the players who we would have made a more than merely informal offer for.
Once that interest was apparent, Gestede’s agent would have stalled and waited for other clubs to have become involved. We were linked with him for what, one and a half, nearly two weeks? The first I heard of Villa being in for him was pretty much the same time as he signed on the dotted line for them.
If you or I need a plumber and electrician, we ring around, get a few quotes and, ultimately, decide on who offers the best all round package. Footballers are no different. They’ll study the first offer with interest but wait for something better to come along. Because it usually does.
For Gestede and his entourage it was Aston Villa. We never stood a chance once their van had pulled up outside his house.
Not. A. Chance. (again)
Someone made a point on one of the club’s message-boards last week as to why it seems that, whenever we sign for a player, we never seem to beat other clubs for his signature, that there is never a the proverbial frenzied race to sign him from which we, eventually, come out victorious.
Gestede and Bamford are two examples why. Like the 40/1 shot at Goodwood, we’re in the running but no-one really fancies us to win.
There have been exceptions. Ryan Bennett was all set to sign for Swansea until we came calling.
Yet his career seems to have stalled since he joined us. Maybe he’ll be moving on again in the near future? But will it be to another Premier League club?
Probably – with all the best will in the world to Ryan – not.
And here’s another point.
How many of the 17 that were left – players who represented us in the Premier League from 2011 to 2014 – do you think will go onto play for another Premier League club when the time comes for them to leave Norwich?
Work your way through the list and tell me who might go against the flow and prove themselves good enough to go onto bigger and better things, post Norwich City. Which of them will continue as Premier League players after they have left Carrow Road?
Seb Bassong, Ryan Bennett, Elliot Bennett, Wes Hoolahan, Gary Hooper, Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, Russell Martin, Josh Murphy, Martin Olsson, Nathan Redmond, John Ruddy, Declan Rudd, Alex Tettey, Michael Turner, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Steven Whittaker.
I’m not naming names here. But I reckon no more than half a dozen at the most. But it might be as low as just two of them.
Have we really become a club that is, for most of the players that join it, one that represents the peak of their professional careers?
Andre Wisdom, you might think, probably sees us as a stepping stone on to bigger and better things with Liverpool. And he’s made no secret of that fact. But then he’s not our player anyway, unlike Graham Dorrans and Youssef Mulumbu who have had substantial previous experience at this level.
Yet you would have to say, once the yellow and green tinted spectacles had been removed, that, had any of the Aston Villas, West Hams or even Stoke Citys of this world also been interested in either of them, we might have had a struggle in persuading them to head to Norwich.
If it’s a choice between any of those clubs and ourselves, we’re going to be at the back of the queue more often than not. No matter what we say, do, promise or propose to player ‘X’ whose off to St Mary’s after he’s paid a little lip service to us up at Colney.
Which begs the question: Are we our own glass ceiling in terms of the type of player we can hope to sign?