I hate early July. It’s long enough after the end of the season for withdrawal symptoms to have kicked in but the big kick off on August 6 still looks awfully distant.
It’s also the point where the transfer market starts to get into top gear with the inevitable plague of rumours ranging from the plausible to the downright ridiculous and those of us with a serious addiction to social media finding ourselves constantly checking Twitter, Facebook and the Pink Un for any hard news.
Inevitably as players sign for other clubs there are moans that another one has slipped through the net, but of course none of us has any real insight into the club’s agenda or who their real targets are.
The reality is that City aren’t in the same financial position as the likes of Newcastle and Villa who can pay top dollar for the players they want (and need to do more rebuilding than City) and that means that a certain amount of patience is necessary as players with excessive wage demands or clubs looking for inflated transfer values are unlikely to be on the recruitment team’s shortlist.
A good example of that is Aaron Tshibola, who may or may not have been a City target, but who was reported last month as having been the subject of a successful bid of £2million, but has now signed for Aston Villa for £5million.
While the lad is highly rated he has started just six Championship games in his career and suffered two major injuries last season, one sidelining him for three months and the second for four.
He may well turn out to be a great player but £5million is a lot to spend on potential and I don’t believe that City can afford to take that sort of chance, particularly when they are already overstocked with midfielders.
Of course we want to see good players coming in but I would suggest that whereas last season was defined by the players that City bought – given the weakness of the squad in Premier League terms – this year will be defined by those that they retain, especially given that most of them have won promotion before.
Limited finances mean that we are not going to see a string of marquee names coming in but as long as City can recruit sensibly and keep their key players they will be in with a shout.
I think we all realised that, having stalled on a new contract, Nathan Redmond would be off this summer, so the key thing was to get a good price for him and that was achieved – which incidentally provided further evidence that the club’s inner workings haven’t been too badly impaired by David McNally’s departure.
Inevitably, had he still been in post, the eight figure fee for Redmond would have been hailed as further evidence of his hard headedness, but clearly someone is doing a good job in his absence.
The arrival of a like for like replacement in Sergi Canos (albeit after a process akin to the gestation period of an elephant) offers grounds for excitement – given his high standing with Liverpool and Brentford fans – but the real indicator of how realistic City’s ability to bounce straight back again will be how many of their experienced players they can hold on to, with Timm Klose and Robbie Brady at the top of the list.
It appears that City have slapped a prohibitive price tag on Brady (another hint that the club isn’t desperate to sell players to shore up the finances) but, while it would be nice to think that that will deter suitors, in modern football a player who really wants out usually gets his way and Brady is reportedly keen on playing Champions League football.
I therefore suspect, although I hope I’m wrong, that City are simply ensuring that if the inevitable happens they will get top dollar.
Klose is another matter with every sign that the Swiss is happy in Norwich – although it’s still early days – but I would hope that he would give it at least until January before reviewing his future given his limited time in a City shirt so far.
Add to that players who are likely to flourish at Championship level in Naismith, Pinto, Bennett, Howson, Dorrans, Odjidja-Ofoe, Ruddy, Jarvis, Tettey, Olsson, Jerome and Maddison (even the much maligned Martin and Whittaker have been outstanding there before) and there is every reason to be optimistic, although the arrival of a quality striker and another centre-back would appear to be a minimum requirement, as well as replacing any others who may be tempted away.
While new faces would freshen up an ageing squad its experience that will be vital as we approach a long, tough season. The Championship rewards tenacity over style and a blend of those who’ve done it before and some exciting youngsters should be a recipe for success.