From the moment Holt arrived in the fine city it was obvious to all that here was a proud man – not someone who would be willing to blend into the background. A warrior; a fighter; someone who – courtesy of his footballing roots – would attempt to squeeze every last drop out of the opportunity afforded him by Bryan Gunn.
Described back in 2010, by the then Birmingham City Academy manager Terry Westley, as a winger in the mould of Aaron Lennon or Ashley Young we certainly look to have acquired ourselves someone with genuine pace. With this particular quality having been in short supply in Hughton’s class of 2012/13 the signing of Redmond undoubtedly ticks that box very nicely.
In conversation with BBC Radio Norfolk, van Wolfswinkel explained that when the chance of a move to Norwich City (or perhaps more significantly to the Premier League) arose he was offered some sound advice by a Dutch legend of yesteryear; none other in fact than Johan Neeskens.
Having always been a firm ‘it matters little what the bookies and pundits say’ advocate, I’m now a little curious as to whether their condescending attitude towards ‘little Norwich’ does have in fact an impact when it comes to the transfer free-for-all.
It goes without saying it doesn’t sit comfortably to agree with Alan Hansen, but his incessant assertion that ‘nothing frightens defenders like pace’ is indeed true; Gabriel Agbonlahor’s match-winning performance at Carrow Road back in early-May a perfect example of how destructive the combination of pace and power can be.
Everton at home on 17 August is indeed mouth-watering and, with Roberto Martinez now at their helm, will reveal a re-branded Toffees outfit. One suspects their style will be the fluid, contemporary style that Martinez honed at Swansea and attempted, partly unsuccessfully, to refine at Wigan.
At around this time every year one of the nationals – usually a broadsheet – gives us chapter and verse around the complexities of compiling said list, and sure enough the Guardian hasn’t disappointed. While it apologetically describes the process as ‘laborious’, it’s actually quite interesting (or is it just me?) and offers one or two little nuggets I was unaware of.
The thought of a ‘big unit’ with a top-notch strike-rate (59 goals in 125 appearances since moving to Holland) linking up with Ricky van Wolfswinkel indeed sounds an edifying prospect, but before we get too carried away we should perhaps cast our minds back nine short years.
Swansea’s triumph in the Carling Cup at least suggests the odds of seeing green and yellow ribbons adorn a silver trophy are slightly shorter than England emerging victorious from the World Cup or Euros.
While the pub would once facilitate the sharing of such a rumour with maybe a dozen people – some worse for wear and unlikely to recall a thing – Facebook and Twitter can spread the same rumour to thousands in a single keystroke.
Where once City were renowned for injecting new life into the careers of thirty-somethings – Martin Peters and Mick Channon being two fine examples – our recent history has been littered with examples of us being the premature dispenser of said footballing demographic.
To this day, there is no greater sight than seeing the great man, ears pinned back, turning on the after-burners to fly past a floundering defender. Whether said defender is Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville or Tubes (from Soccer AM) matters little; the end result is invariably the same.
Simeon Jackson’s goals in the run-in of 2010-11 are the stuff of legend and a quick Youtube search of ‘Jackson, Derby, Goreham’ is, to this day, guaranteed to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. Similarly that downward header at Fratton Park. Moments that will live forever in the mind
The evening has been named Jamie’s Game – a well-deserved homage to Jamie Abbott, a 16-year-old City-supporting footballer with Down’s Syndrome who, as part of the Community Sports Foundation, has become a charity ambassador.
While Hughton continually asked to be judged after 38 games – not an unreasonable request – it was never going to happen. We’re football supporters after all; knee-jerk reactions and snap-shot judgements are what we do… they’re built into our DNA.
Norwich set the tone early on with a really positive start – Robert Snodgrass and Wes Hoolahan both prominent in the opening exchanges as the home side began in ponderous fashion. A couple of decent looking penalty shouts – a scythe on Snodgrass and a handball shout against Joleon Lescott – both went unnoticed by referee Mark Halsey, in his last game before retirement, but did nothing to deter the City spirit.
So, while we can rest safe in the knowledge that events in Eastlands will have no impact on whether next season we dine at The Ivy, with the likes of Chelsea, or at a ‘greasy spoon’ – with the likes of Ipswich – it will impact on Hughton’s summer transfer kitty.
Despite Andy Townsend’s best efforts to persuade us that last night was merely a triumph of guts and determination over class and skill, it was no fluke. Flukes don’t tend to happen over two legs, especially those where the same team wins both games.
Alas, my fears were unfounded and, to a man, those in yellow took not one backward step yesterday. From minute one to minute ninety-three they were ‘on it’ – every single one of them – and from somewhere found a performance right up there with anything we’ve seen in the McNally and Bowkett years.
The mathematicians amongst us have suggested a single point on Sunday may be enough, but I’d hate to think Chris Hughton would set City’s stall out for anything other than victory. It wouldn’t sit comfortably with the Yellow Army for sure, if that were the case – caution playing a far too prominent role in the 2012/13 campaign.