Who better to judge 'The Judge' than City No2 Jim Duffy?
The second of this week's three arrivals, 25-year-old Frenchman Julien Brellier arrived in Norfolk as a largely unknown quantity – despite, apparently, achieving near cult status during his two-year spell at Hearts.
It was there, of course, that Brellier and Duffy first teamed up as Peter Grant's right-hand man gave his one-time Chelsea pal Graham Rix a helping hand through the winter of 2005-2006.
The Rix/Duffy combo, to their credit, lasted a full five months before the club's 'colourful' owner Vladimir Romanov swung the axe – a month longer than George Burley had survived earlier that season. It was, of course, the long-time Town manager who had given Brellier his break north of the border after those five, frustrating years at Inter Milan.
In amidst all the managerial bloodshed – Brellier would rack up eight managers in his two years at Tynescastle – the Edinburgh club would not only break the top-two monopoly enjoyed by Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic for the first time in nigh-on 25 years when they finished that 2005-2006 season second one point clear of the Gers, but would also win the Scottish FA Cup final with that penalty shoot-out success against Gretna.
Someone, somewhere, must have been doing something right.
“To finish second that year was a huge achievement – and one not to be under-estimated at all,” said Duffy, as he took a break from putting the final touches to City's pre-season preparations to shed rather more light on 'The Judge'.
“What sort of player is Julien? He's a competitive player and that's probably his biggest quality – his competitive nature,” said Duffy. Look back at Hearts' 2005-2006 triumphs and, coincidence or not, the Tynecastle clib set their stall out early by winning their first eight league games on the spin that season – seven of which had Brellier at the heart of the midfield battle.
The one, obvious chinkin his armour would be his disciplinary record – that 2005-2006 season produced 14 yellows and a red. Colourful, by anyone's standards.
Come August 11 and City's first game of the season away at Preston North End and Brellier's likely contest with Deepdale new-boy and former Luton and Leeds skipper Kevin Nicholls promises to be hugely entertaining. Sparks may well fly.
That aside, and it is clear that Grant and Duffy have – potentially – a key component of their side in place; someone that mops up, around and behind Dickson Etuhu as he plays 20 yards further up the field; someone that, likewise, might slam the door shut ahead of Adam Drury in one of Darren Huckerby's lengthy absences. That, at least, would be the theory.
“Julien reads the game very well; he keeps the game simple; he doesn't over-elaborate; he sees a danger and snuffs it out very quickly,” explained Duffy, distancing himself from the comparisons made in The Scotsman newspaper with Celtic tyro Neil Lennon.
“I don't think that's a good comparison,” said Duffy.
“Neil Lennon is much more of what you'd describe as a holding midfield player – and a very good one.
“Julien is more of a midfield player; a player that likes to get up and press the game.”
Win it; give it. Win it; give it. Hassle, harry. Hassle, harry.
AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is one of the breed – he, of course, perfected his snarl with a spell at Rangers, while Eric Cantona once described French international skipper and one-time Chelsea star Didier Deschamps as “a water-carrier” in that he fetch and carried all day and let the real artists in the team strut their stuff.
“Julien allows other players to play and these type of players are becoming more and more invaluable,” said Duffy, offering his own, prime example of the breed, Chelsea's Claude Makelele.
Perhaps with a slightly more grittier edge – something essential for life in the Championship.
“In the Championship you have to be strong, physical,” said Duffy.
“The midfield gets very congested; you get a lot of knockdowns there; you can't be frightened of putting your foot in.”
Where Brellier got his instinctive eye for danger is not too hard to fathom – re-read his early cv and it appears that the one-time French Under-19 star trained as a 'libero'; a sweeper. That's where he gained his early education at Montpellier before Inter came to call.
“It was a big chance for me, ” Brellier told The Sunday Times in the middle of that first autumn at Hearts. “My contract was finishing, I had the chance to move to another club in Italy and a club in England, but I thought Inter Milan would be a good experience.”
In the event, his first team experience with the Nerazzurri was limited to one game – instead he was farmed out to clubs in Serie B. He still proved good enough for manager Angelo Gregucci to sign him twice – on loan for both Salernitana and Venezia in Serie B. Likewise, Burley is a fair judge of a player.
“We're not putting him in the multi-million pound bracket, but he was signed by Inter Milan,” said Duffy. “And we've seen before now that players at those sort of clubs that do go out on loan, still go for big fees.”
The first real 'sighting' of Brellier in competitive surroundings will come next weekend when the Canaries open their pre-season schedule away at fellow FlyBe club Exeter City, now of the Conference.
It is clear that Duffy will be delighted to get back to simply playing and coaching football after a long and exhausting summer on the phone.
“To be fair, Bryan Gunn has done more of that than me – I've been more into watching football, watching players. In fact he's just given me another four DVDs of players to watch so thanks Bryan…” said Duffy.
“But that's what we do, that's our job and it's enjoyable,” said Grant's No2, with the manager himself throwing himself into the task as and when negotiations reach critical.
“Over the last couple of weeks Peter's been doing a lot more of the ringing – he's maybe on the phone 50 times a day. But, as I say, that's part and parcel of the job these days. Keeping up to speed with what's happening with players either coming or going.”
Today, the real work started – on the training ground. At which point Duffy waxed lyrical about all the recent inclement weather.
“I know people have been moaning about all the rain, but with that and the sunshine in between, the training pitches up here are looking absolutely lush. They're in magnificent condition. All I want to do is just get a ball out…”
One final question. Why is Brellier known as 'The Judge'? “I've absolutely no idea…”