An urgent phone call to Los Angeles helped set today's dramatic loan swoop in motion as the Canaries beat both QPR and Crystal Palace to the signature of England Under-19 international Jimmy Smith.
“It was quite a quick turnaround – losing Dickson was a bolt from the blue,” said City favourite Bryan Gunn, who as the club's 'liason officer' was centre stage over the last 48 hours.
It wasn't wholly his own work – the fact that Canary No2 Jim Duffy was a former Chelsea youth coach helped. Smith, after all, joined the west London giants as an eight-year-old and would therefore have been well-known to Duffy – albeit as a bright young teenage prospect.
It was, equally, Gunn's long-standing friendship with Chelsea No2 Steve Clarke that also helped oil the wheels of today's move – one that started to fill the gaping hole that Dickson Etuhu's shock departure to Sunderland left.
“Once we'd lost Dickson, it was a case of sitting down together and saying: 'Right, who are we going to get in?',” said Gunn, as the 20-year-old Chelsea prospect opted to further his footballing education in Norfolk.
“And the unanimous decision was to try and get Jimmy in. Jim Duffy had his Chelsea contacts; Martin Hunter knew him through his England Youth connections.
“And, fortunately, when we put the call in to Steve Clarke who was in Los Angeles with Chelsea, he very kindly called me back and we were given the opportunity to speak to the player.”
Lo and behold, there he was at Colney this lunchtime being unveiled to the Press and firmly in line to make his Canary debut in Holland next week.
“I feel this is part of my development,” City's seventh signing of the summer told the club's official website this lunchtime.
“To come into the Championship and play games – I can't ask for any more than that, really.”
The young Londoner has already proved that he can make a big impact at this level – grabbing half a dozen goals from his two dozen games for QPR last season.
He is, clearly, not going to be an identical replacement for the departing Etuhu – he is three inches shorter at six-foot tall for a start. But, nevertheless, he possesses all the natural attacking instincts of, say, a Stevie Sidwell who, ironically, effectively ended his hopes of an immediate elevation to Chelsea's first team squad this autumn by his free transfer switch to The Bridge.
Which is why Rangers boss John Gregory fancied another bite at the apple this time round and why Peter Taylor at Selhurst Park was also reported to be in the queue for the boy's services. You have to suspect that money will have talked – that flush with the Dickson cash and in fairly urgent need of a PR-coup, every last stop was pulled to make sure today's events happened.
And credit to someone; proof will be in the pudding, but Julien Brellier now has a natural looking partner at the heart of that City midfield – just three days after the last one left.
“He's a good age at 20 and I think his high energy style of play will go down well with the supporters,” said Gunn this afternoon. “Plus he gets into good areas and offers a goal threat – and with the likes of Jamie Cureton, David Strihavka and Darren Huckerby, hopefully, it won't be a case of us not scoring enough goals this season.
“Plus he's not afraid of a tackle and he's got that good pedigree of coming from Chelsea. He's very much the complete midfielder.”
And one that has not escaped Jose Mourinho's attention either. Because for all The Special One's all-star cast at The Bridge, it seems the Chelsea chief still has all the time in the world for the club's rising stars. Smith won't be forgotten in the wilds of Norfolk. His progress was constantly monitored at Loftus Road; it will be no different at Carrow Road over the next six months.
“Jose is a great manager, I've learned a lot off him and he's a good person to be around. You learn something new every day off him and it's obvious why he's won so many things,” Smith told the BBC in the midst of last season's Championship education at QPR.
“He's fantastic with the younger players too, he makes a real effort,” Smith added. “Most people think he just blanks us but he doesn't, he's really approachable and he'll always sit down and try to make conversation with you.
“He's a very friendly guy and you wouldn't hesitate to talk to him, about your game or anything else.”
Gunn's thoughts on today's move are equally enlightening in the sense that the Canary goalkeeping legend clearly hopes that Smith's arrival can be part of an on-going process – that the 20-year-old midfield prospect might not be the last kid from the King's Road to finish his education in Norfolk.
“Who knows? Hopefully, this opens a new line of communication between ourselves and Chelsea and that can only be good for the club's future.”
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