Of course there are many other issues that stretch far beyond the stereotypical ‘too many foreigners’ debate’, not least the permanent collision course on which the FA and the Premier League find themselves.
Alas, despite a busy day (one suspects)of enquiring phone calls by David McNally and co, there was no deal to be had and so City’s summer activity 2013 has ended on eight new signings; value in the region of £25million.
While the visitors took the honours for artistic impression, City edged it where it really mattered, with Nathan Redmond’s splendid strike from 20 yards springing a fairly subdued Carrow Road to life midway through that tense and twitchy second half.
All too often in recent the past we’ve given fringe players a chance to shine in Cup games only for them to confirm their rightful place on the periphery with tepid, unconvincing displays. For the Shakers to be swept aside in such clinical fashion was a little ‘un-Norwich like’.
Yes, City enjoyed huge chunks of possession when faced with ten opponents in the second half, but with the ball shifted so ponderously Steve Bruce’s two massed banks of four simply shifted across ensuring there were no gaping holes and forced City to play in front of them. In the midst of last season’s poor run we bemoaned the lack of quality in the side – no excuses this time round.
“Knowing that Chris was the manager of the team made it easier to decide to come here”. Increasingly, the Hughton-factor is becoming the common denominator this summer, with his charm and honesty in selling the fine city appearing to make it that little bit more appealing for prospective employees.
As well as being a doppelgänger for Grant Holt, Elmander also brings to the table similar qualities; big, strong, powerful, an ability to play ‘back to goal’ and a good first touch. Add to that 71 international caps and a goal ratio of one in three.
A point against a quality side with the top six in their sights is far from a disaster, even if a couple of ‘Canary Callers’ tried to convince us otherwise; likewise the bloke in the River End at half-time who thought Redmond was “virtually playing at left-back!” Hhmm.
As much as I’d like to throw City’s hat into the ring as potential leaders of the ‘peloton’, there are a few who currently have a stronger case. Swansea for example.
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.