Paul Stephenson was widely expected to be the first, fresh face through the door at Colney today after reports in the North-East suggested that the 39-year-old Hartlepool coach had hitched a lift down to Norfolk this weekend with new City No2 Lee Clark after over-seeing his final Pool youth game.
Boss Glenn Roeder was dropping big hints at Matty Pattison's unveiling on Friday that this would be a busy week with the new Canary chief adding that he would be “disappointed” if he did not have a further two fresh loan faces in place before Saturday's home clash with Coventry City.
Indeed, one he suggested was no more than “a rubber stamp” away from being approved as Roeder's new broom sweeps through the corridor of Colney with a vengeance – the former Newcastle United and West Ham United manager having now seen all he needs to know following that miserable 3-0 away defeat at Plymouth.
Stephenson's arrival is likely to be the least of this weekend's surprises. Roeder was quoted in the Newcastle Eveneing Chronicle last week as saying that he was about to unveil an all-Geordie coaching line-up as the one-time England youth winger joins Clark at Colney.
All but naming Stephenson again on Friday, Roeder appears convinced that his latest backroom appointment will prove a breath of fresh air as his infectious smile lights up City's training HQ.
“He's a guy that even on the rainiest, cloudiest day will wear the broadest smile on his face – he's lucky to be born like that,” said Roeder, who first saw Stephenson emerge as a footballer at St James' Park where the Wallsend-born winger was in the same youth team as the Clown Prince himself, Paul Gascoigne.
The pair would team up again in Kent where, having snapped him up on loan out of neighbours Gillingham, Stephenson helped Roeder spare the Gills from disappearing into the Conference at the end of that fraught 1992-93 season.
“You'll meet him – I'm sure he'll come. And he'll walk in here laughing and smiling – and he'll just lift everyone,” said Roeder on Friday. “As I say, I know him well. I played with him a long time ago – and he'll be good. He'll be good.”
Discussions with Pool boss Danny Wilson were clearly had last week and with all concerned appearing to be moving towards the same conclusion, it was just left to finalise a small compensation package to enable the move to proceed.
Speaking before the weekend, Roeder clealy didn't see any issues.
“We've struck a deal – as far as we're concerned – with another coach to leave his club and come here. We're just waiting for permission from that club to release him,” said the City chief, who – as with Clark's appointment – was keen to recruit someone on the rise.
Someone with the hunger and the ambition to move on and up the coaching and managerial ladder. From youth team coach at Hartlepool to first team coach at Norwich – Stephenson's appointment would certainly be a step forward in that regard. He could, of course, be sat in the stands at Carrow Road tonight as Gary Doherty and Mark Fotheringham make their return from injury in the Ressie's clash with Northampton Town.
“If they don't I will be hugely disappointed – that another club has tried to hinder the progress of a young, enthusiastic coach who will bring a lot to this club,” said Roeder, seeing Stephenson as the link man between Ricky Martin's Academy set-up and his own first team squad.
“He'll be a good link between the Academy – he'll be a development coach as well – and the first team. And he will travel with the first team as well,” said the City boss. “So that will be myself, Lee and this other guy – that'll be our backroom staff in terms of the senior coaching personnel.”
What will be fascinating to see is whether Stephenson introduces one or two of his Hartlepool initiatives in Norfolk – not least a week-long summer training camp in Lympstone, the home of the Royal Marines.
Assault courses and early morning billet inspections should keep the next generation of Chrissy Martins firmly on their toes.
Otherwise all eyes were on the late autumn loan market and the clear impression that Roeder has both a centre-forward and another central midfielder firmly in his sights – one of whom was due to arrive by Monday or Tuesday “at the latest”.
All of which – given Martin 'Tiny' Taylor's arrival within the first 48-hours – would be designed to implant a complete new spine in the Championship strugglers.
For with Matty Pattison clearly about to fill one of those central midfield berths, the arrival of second midfielder would then find little room at the inn for Darel Russell – all of which might then explain why the one-time City youth product found himself the subject of a ?500,000 link to Neil Warnock's Crystal Palace in yesterday's News of the World.
They suggested that Roeder had rebuffed an alleged move by the Eagles.
Equally, it would be the nature of the modern football agent beast if Russell's 'Mr Ten Per Cent' hadn't put the 'advert' out himself just to see whether or not he might be able to conjure up a second ?500,000 switch in six months following his move back to Norfolk from Stoke this summer. In every likelihood, however, it was Mr Warnock seeing if he couldn't slip a sneaky one in with the Canaries in such a state of flux.
Either way, the prospect of a second midfield loan signing walking through the door at Colney is likely to ruffle one or two feathers as Roeder starts to stamp his authority over his bottom-of-the-table side.