The friendly with Real Sociedad – played in front of an excellent crowd of over 14,000 – provided most of those present with their first ‘live’ glimpse of Hughton’s summer purchases and there was little to disappoint; the 1-1 scoreline almost an irrelevance.
While the level of performance and match fitness still remain the name of the game, the need to prove a good match to a side that will be mixing it with Europe’s elite will not be lost on Team Hughton as thoughts head towards the Everton game.
The positives still outnumbered the negatives on a balmy Portuguese evening that saw Hughton give a City debut to Martin Olsson, as well as a first outing of the new season for Michael Turner, both of whom could now be ready for 17 August.
A classy midfielder with a left foot that can open a tin of beans, his elegant style was one that fitted perfectly with Lambert’s desire to play the midfield diamond.
In the case of Quagliairella, he now appears to find himself a little way down the Juve pecking order and so one assumes an unlikely move to ‘unfashionable’ Norwich would come with an expectation of regular first-team football.
Given the protracted nature of this saga no-one would have been the slightest bit surprised if there had been a last minute hitch or two, but in the spirit of the Canadian Mounty, McNally and Hughton look to have got their man.
Chris Hughton had predicted this would be the sternest test of the tour and he wasn’t to be disappointed with Portland – currently second in the Western Division of the MLS – providing robust opposition.
However laudable the Duke of Cambridge’s desire to later remind his new born son ’of his ‘tardiness’, when compared to the Hooper saga the wait for the arrival of HRH Prince George of Cambridge almost pales into insignificance. But as relieved as we’ll all be to see an end to it, how many of us will find the feeling of indifference replaced by one of ambivalence? Chris Hughton clearly wanted Hooper, and is clearly convinced that he could do a job at the top level.
With fitness and game time still the name of the game, the defeat should be of little concern as City now build towards the finale of the tour, a Wednesday night ‘match up’ with Portland Timbers. Again it’s expected that Hughton will ring the changes as he looks to give his squad ample opportunity to impress ahead of their return to the UK and the friendlies at Brighton, Cambridge United and Braga.
Having reportedly missed out on Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella, rumours emanating from Sky Italia suggest that Chris Hughton’s attention has now turned to the Catania striker who spent last season on loan at Sampdoria. With Serie A the latest hunting ground in City’s search for a striker, Hughton and Ewan Chester look to have identified the ability to score in the rarefied atmosphere of Serie A as a good fit in the Premier League.
I’m not expecting the Italian’s agent and family to come out and declare the Norwich option still to be a viable one, with Tuesday’s private jet from Turin to Norwich now looking highly unlikely to have contained a swarthy looking Italian goalscorer.
City’s approach hopefully differs because those on the shopping list are there because they fit the City mould. Not because they’re ‘a name’ and they look impressive on paper but because, courtesy of Ewan Chester’s scouting reports, they provide a certain something that Chris Hughton has identified as missing from his current crop.
City legends who feature in the book include Craig Bellamy, Darren Huckerby, Malky MacKay and Robert Green; all of whom have been on the McVeigh radar for a variety of reasons – some good, some not so good. The story of Malky giving a young McVeigh a ‘rough ride’ in the early days will be of particular interest to the Yellow Army.
With Nash having been guilty of jumping the McNally gun by 48 hours thanks to Twitter, the same medium had all but confirmed the arrival of Olsson, with his picture – alongside a City fan near Norwich station – having been doing the rounds on Thursday afternoon.
Despite City’s CEO tweeting last week: “Can confirm though that I haven’t been in talks with clubs about any one leaving #ncfc” Sky have persisted with the Ruddy story and are now reporting, via their famed sources, that a second bid has been made and duly rejected.
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.