City fans can look forward to a rumour-free week for once as both the transfer and the 'emergency' loan windows stay stubbornly shut for the next four days.
The one thing you can do in the meantime, however, is take free agents on trial which City boss Peter Grant duly did today by handing a chance to 30-year-old Cameroon international defender Lucien Mettemo.
“He comes with great credentials having played at the very highest level,” Grant told the club's official website this afternoon, with the one-time St Etienne star having joined Manchester City for ?1.5 million in 2001 before a switch to Kaiserslautern in the German Second Division in the summer of 2003.
More recently, he was reported to be playing for FC Lucerne in the Swiss First Division after signing from the Turkish side Kayseri Erciyesspor on a two-year deal last summer. He now has to prove his fitness to the City boss before any potential deal progresses.
“We'll assess the situation and make a decision on him over the course of the next few days,” added Grant, hoping to find one, possible answer to his on-going quest to fill that No5 shirt.
For with the full-time transfer window now shut until January 1, 2008, the 'emergency' loan market re-opens on September 7 – that was reckoned to be Grant's likeliest port of call as clubs in the Football League make ever more use of a loophole in the rules that allows them to snap up players from the Premiership in an 'emergency'.
After watching the Canaries ship in those two, soft strikes on Saturday and hear Grant reveal that skipper Jason Shackell has picked up ankle ligament damage courtesy of Julien Brellier's inadvertant tackle at Rochdale last week, one or two might argue that Norwich's likely use of the emergency loan market was exactly that.
Certainly, that was way that Grant's mind was turning after the end of the official transfer window last Friday night brought no fresh joy in the manager's quest to add another “one or two players” to his squad.
He will go again after the weekend as clubs in the Premiership work out just who is now surplus to their own requirements following their summer spin on the transfer merry-go-round.
The other impression, however, is of Grant's growing disillusionment with the British transfer market – given the size of fees involved at every stage. Loans don't come cheap.
So, did he get close to making another move on Friday night? “No, not really,” said Grant, speaking after Saturday's first home defeat of the season.
“A lot of them weren't really going to make a movement on it – they weren't going to make any decisions until they saw whether people were going to get sold or whatever.
“And then it becomes a little more difficult each time because all the top sides can afford them,” added Grant, as money – or rather Premiership money – talks ever louder.
“All the top sides are wanting the ones that you want and are willing to give that little bit more – and I don't mean a little bit more, I mean a big bit more.
“Plus the fee that people are wanting for a loan is like a transfer fee – to assess that, and the wages and everything else that goes along with it, makes it a little bit more difficult,” said the City chief, his cause not helped by the fact that, for example, he doesn't know exactly when Shackell will be back on duty.
Nor, for example, whether 38-year-old Dublin could prove to be the calm head he needs in a defensive crisis. And if he is, whether he could, for example, do Charlton, Wolves and Manchester City away in the course of a week.
On the other side of the fence comes the loan fee, Norwich's share of the player's wages and, of course, the fee that the player's 'Mr Fixit' will inevitably demand. Value for money remains at the forefront of Grant's mind as he juggles with a host of issues before hitting the phones again.
“The goalposts keep moving in respect of the injuries we keep picking up – how long certain guys are going to be out.
“If you go for one position then you think: 'Well, hold on – maybe I need to spend a little bit more in this position here to cover for us,” said Grant, whose central midfield resources now look distinctly thin on the back of Youssef Safri's exit to Southampton and the injuries to both Mark Fotheringham and Jimmy Smith.
“It's closed for a week now, but we'll assess it in that week and see what's available and then we'll take it from there.
“If I can get some guys in, then I'd be delighted because I'd still like two guys in to maybe give us something different and, hopefully, we can try and do that.”
You also got the distinct impression that he now has more on his plate than worrying about a Carling Cup third round trip to the Eastlands Stadium where Sven Goran Eriksson's rebuilt Manchester City await. The tie was duly confirmed today for Tuesday, September 25.
“To be honest with you, it doesn't really concern me – the next few league games, they're the most important thing,” said Grant, with the home clash against Crystal Palace now at the forefront of everyone's mind.
“The one thing I would say is that the one thing you look for in a cup draw is a home game – and we never got that.
“But it's a big challenge against a very good side at this moment in time. But, as I say, I'm more concerned about getting ourselves sorted out for the next league match.”
In the meantime, the Canaries were keeping FlyBe's service to Edinburgh in business as Irish youngster Kurtis Byrne followed Ryan Jarvis north and joined John Collins' Hibs.
But whereas Jarvis has arrived at Kilmarnock on loan until the New Year, Byrne appears set on a full-time move after the 17-year-old, second year Academy scholar “negotiated his release from the Carrow Road club”, according to tonight's Edinburgh Evening News.
“He's a good quality player with potential and at 6ft tall, he's a good size for a young boy,” said Collins, as Byrne scored a goal in Hibs U19's 3-1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle this weekend.
Byrne's father, Paul, was a striker with Celtic – hence the strong Scottish connections of the Dublin-born youngster.
His arrival at Easter Road still comes as a slight surprise given that the teenager was the subject of the 'Academy Interview' in Saturday's match-day programme against Cardiff.
Quizzed as to his hopes for this season after a first year at Colney hit by illness, Byrne said: “I want to get a lot more reserve matches and then earn a professional contract at the end of the year and then, hopefully, push on into the first team,” he told the City programme.
“It gives you hope when you see others making in through,” added the Republic of Ireland Under-17 striker. “You know that if you work hard the rewards are there.”
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