I didn’t watch Germany v Sweden live – a family meal for once took precedence over football – but a break for “some fresh air” did permit me and my son the chance to escape for five to catch up on latest score.
You know what I’m going to say…
BBC Sport: Germany 0, Sweden 1 (Toivonen 32′minutes)
I was immediately transported back to the heady summer of 2013 when, amongst other exotic names, Ola Toivonen was one who seemed destined for the Fine City. According to Voetbal International, and as reported in the Evening News at the time, we’d gone as far down the line as agreeing a £4.7 million deal with his then club, PSV Eindhoven.
Sadly Ola had other ideas, and other suitors come to that. Norfolk wasn’t for him. And I never did discover if we lured him over here for a shufti around Colney. Either way, it was another in a long line of failed attempts to lure big names to Carrow Road.
As it transpired, he hung around at PSV for a bit longer, despite all the apparent interest, and eventually went to Rennes in January 2014 for €2.5 million.
There have been others, of course, arguably even bigger names, all of whom were in the frame (allegedly) and who either slipped through our fingers or who gave us the V-sign. I give you, for starters, Kalidou Koulibaly, Toby Alderweireld and Fabio Quagliarella.
That the only real oversees ‘name’ we managed to lure in the big money years was Ricky van Wolfswinkel is in itself a salutary, painful even, reminder that big name comes with no guarantees, but perhaps the bigger point here is around understanding your limitations and to not waste time and resources on players who perceive Norwich City as unworthy of a line on their CV.
But it’s a fine line and at the time we were all screaming for the club to show balls (small ‘b’) and ambition, and these were precisely the type of players we wanted to see gracing Carrow Road. Yet, reality can really stink at times and despite having a sizeable pot of cash to dip into to get these deals over the line, Messrs McNally and co quickly discovered that being Norwich City in a transfer window is a tough old gig.
Norwich being a beautiful city and the lure of the Norfolk Broads don’t tend to wash when sexier names are also banding around similarly sized wads of cash. It was, at times, a struggle.
Of course, things are very different now. Minus a pot to pee in, signing foreign players is no longer such a problem. Now we’re not just shopping in a different aisle, we’re in a different store. To repeat a tired analogy, we’ve long given up on Waitrose, we’ve briefly flirted with Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, but we’re now taking our own bags to Aldi and Lidl.
Our player demographic has shifted. Instead of trying to lure players who would consider Norwich City lucky to have them, Daniel Farke has spoken often of how those in his squad must understand and appreciate what an honour it is to wear the yellow shirt. Ola, Toby, Kalidou and Fabio wouldn’t have been having any of that. It would have been red carpets and riders all the way.
That we’re now more appealing to players from here and abroad is, in its own way, a good thing I guess – even if it is via an extremely convoluted route – but it’s hard to love the fact our sights have shifted so dramatically in the space of such a short time.
And it’s hard to love the fact that every pound has to work so bloody hard.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not averse to a bit of self-financing, especially at a time when FFP mark II is going to (again) try and enforce some proper financial housekeeping, but the sheer obstinance from Delia and Michael to not even contemplate alternative sources of funding for this football club grates.
That hideous and damaging interview with Henry Winter may have been softened by subsequent soundbites but nothing, absolutely nothing, has emanated from the Carrow Road corridors of power to suggest there is a will to explore options that will make life for Steve Stone and Stuart Webber just a little easier.
I don’t particularly desire some megabucks foreign owner who’ll likely flip the finger to the phrase ‘community club’, nor do I wish the future of our great club to be gambled in a game Premier League of roulette, but I would like to think those in power are exploring every avenue possible to make this club be as competitive as it can possibly be.
It doesn’t just boil down to pounds and pence – there are loads of examples of success being achieved on the type of shoestring on which we’re currently operating – and West Brom, Swansea and Stoke are living reminders of football’s cyclical nature, but it’s daft to suggest that Stone and Webber would be hindered by a budget that had an extra few million added to it.
And heaven forbid we ever fall into the Ipswich-zone for any length of time, but if we did and gates dropped, where would we turn if a Marcus Evans-type annual contribution was needed to keep the caboodle afloat?
Hopefully, I’ll look back on this piece at the end of next season and think ‘what bloody nonsense – what was I worrying about’, but right now it’s a risky game this board is playing. There aren’t too many safety nets.
This is not a veiled call for change or one of those ridiculous and illogical ‘sack the board’ demands (who sacks them?) but I do so wish Delia and Michael would sit down, have a look in the mirror and ask themselves if there are better alternatives than handing the reins to their nephew.
Tom’s a lovely guy, a talented guy I’m told, but is he really the best alternative out there to take this club forward? If the answer is yes, and it’s not just a means of keeping their favourite toy in the family, then fair enough. But I do wonder.