Those of you who tweet (I appreciate a lot of you don’t) will be familiar with the conundrum that arises every time a City player is sold. To continue to follow or unfollow.
Of course it’s daft, but for me there is no dilemma to be had. Once a City player becomes an ex-City player and is pictured in a shirt that’s not yellow, holding aloft a scarf that’s not yellow and green then that’s it. He’s a goner.
I did it with Josh Murphy earlier in the week, albeit reluctantly, and yesterday morning – with rather less regret – the unfollowing ceremony of Marley Watkins took place.
As it transpired, the deal for Josh caught most of us – at least those of us who are not ‘in the know’ – a little off guard, but it was one that the club clearly felt fell in the ‘too good to turn down’ category. And it was.
It was also a no-brainer given that Josh, according to Stuart Webber, had made it known he was ready for a fresh challenge – something I suspect had been in the back of his mind since Jacob departed for Tyneside one year ago.
That the twins have raised – or will eventually raise – in excess of £20million for the club’s coffers is, as Webber alluded to on Canaries.co.uk, a triumph for the academy. But it’s an even bigger triumph for the business model that this club is operating – an absolute must in fact.
Quite where Josh ended up is irrelevant as far as we, the supporters, and the club are concerned – Vincent Tan’s money is worth the same as Mike Ashley’s etc – but at the back of my mind I do wonder how he will fit into a Neil Warnock set-up that relies almost solely on grit, determination and muscle. For all his undoubted qualities, he’s not huge on any of those three.
Now watch him prove me wrong.
But Warnock, who one assumes has done his homework, was prepared to pull up trees to get his man and must have assured Josh that there is a place in Cardiff for his knack of beating full-backs with a drop of the shoulder and scoring the occasional worldie.
Webber’s reference to ‘some difficult times’ at the club was clearly a reference to Josh’s sometimes fractious relationship with elements of the City support, and there clearly were times when player and fans were on a different wavelength. But, unless I’m missing the point, I’m not sure just being one of our own should make you immune to any form of criticism.
I’m not going to lie – there were times when Josh frustrated me and times when I felt his application was not at the level it should be. I didn’t berate him – I save that for Ipswich players and Chris Wilder – but could understand the frustration some felt the need to express.
If the criticism is unjustified, that’s different, and no player benefits from brickbats, but equally being a product of the academy doesn’t mean they should be wrapped in cotton wool.
I will just say, any suggestion that criticism of Josh pertained to reasons other than footballing ones are, in my view, nonsense.
But he’s gone now. He’s no longer one of us and he now wears a blue shirt. And we wish him well.
The curious case of Marley Watkins doesn’t tug at the heartstrings in quite the same way, and I have to say seeing him back in a red shirt looks right. The yellow and green was never a comfortable fit, and going far back as the second friendly of last summer – when he underwhelmed against Lowestoft Town – there were early suggestions he was going to be ‘the next Steve Morison’.
In the event, Morison’s relationship with the faithful was positively warm and cosy compared to the Watkins/Yellow Army coupling.
It was just one of those that didn’t work out – perhaps in part because he was brought in by Webber prior to the arrival of Team Farke and therefore didn’t fit the new player profile.
Yet it wasn’t just a case of him being a square peg in a round hole. He was tried in a hexagonal one, a triangular one, even an octagonal one and yet always looked more likely to get sent off than score. When you’re signed as a striker and your Championship goals are outnumbered by your red cards you know it hasn’t worked out.
But he isn’t the bad player some describe. No-one gets double figures in the Championship by being a poor footballer – him and Norwich City was just a poor fit. I expect him to thrive at Ashton Gate, and probably score against us.
What did get under the skin of a few was a small piece on the BBC Sport website that suggested that Ben Godfrey is in the sights of Crystal Palace, Swansea and West Brom. According to the piece he has “attracted interest” from the trio who are “weighing up bids of around £3m”.
It was sufficient for there to be a Twitter rumble for most of yesterday.
The no smoke without fire theory doesn’t stand up in the transfer silly season, and so while it’s obvious that someone of Godfrey’s calibre will be attracting interest after the season he just enjoyed at Shrewsbury, I’d be astonished if the club were daft enough to give any bid the time of day.
For starters, he fits the profile of players the club are trying to bring in rather than sell – young, hungry, cheap, on an upward curve, still learning – and in these time of searching for value on the continent, he’s a tick in the box for our ‘homegrown’ quota (six of the 18 in a matchday squad have to be).
If this one is entertained we’re in deeper 5hit than any of us imagined.
And finally… James Maddison.
Southampton’s is the latest hat to be chucked into the ring, with one daily tabloid going as far as to suggest that the Saints have met City’s valuation and have been given permission to speak to the player.
Again, who knows if this has legs, but what is clear is it’s a matter of when and not if, even with the revenue from Josh’s sale taken into account. A financial black hole or no financial black hole, Maddison would have been on his way.
What the Murphy deal may have done however is to give Webber and Steve Stone a bit more wriggle room, and allowed them time to negotiate the best deal possible.
I saw a tweet earlier that in less than 280 characters summed up the Maddison scenario far better than I ever could in 1000 words. So, with thanks to @ncfcmustard, I’ll leave you with this…
Most #ncfc fans realise @Madders10 is capable of playing at the very top level; a top 6 side could buy & loan back, the other 14 could offer him a regular Premiership platform. He wants to enjoy playing, so that narrows it down!
A few will regret not bidding though…#ncfc
— Norfolk Mustard (@ncfcmustard) June 17, 2018