City boss Glenn Roeder may yet decide he needs to bite his lip as and when Paul Stephenson's appointment officially goes through after the Canaries today found themselves linked to Hartlepool youngster James Brown.
Despite being spotted sat next to Roeder in the directors box at Carrow Road on Saturday and someone bearing a remarkable resemblance to the 39-year-old Hartlepool youth coach handing out the bibs and cones at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night, Stephenson's formal appointment as Norwich's new first team coach has still yet to go through.
The delay has found Roeder pointing fingers in a northerly direction and muttering darkly about naming names as and when the deal finally does go through. Next April, at the current rate of progress.
“I'll have plenty to say about why it's been held up so long, about the person who's holding it up, because it's a flipping disgrace, and I'll name him,” warned Roeder. If his patience was wearing thin a week ago, someone could be in line for the full two barrels given that the increasingly farcical situation is still dragging on.
“We should have been able to name this coach a week ago,” the new City boss added last week. “It's ridiculous. He's done so well for the club he's at, they should actually be giving him a watch to go and saying thank you very much.”
In the meantime, however, the Canaries have found themselves named in a three-way tug of war over 20-year-old right winger Brown – with Championship leaders Watford and Premiership Tottenham named as the other two teams in the race for the youngster's signature this January.
Given that Stephenson emerged into the limelight as a teenage right-winger in the same Newcastle United side as Paul Gascoigne and has spent the last four years guiding Brown to first team football in his role as youth coach at Victoria Park, the Canaries would appear to enjoy something of a head-start on their reported rivals.
It was, after all, Stephenson and his youth scouting network that plucked Brown out of Sunday football with Cramlington Juniors. Hence the suspicion that Brown may be keen to re-join his early mentor in Norfolk.
Provided, of course, that the whole unseemly wrangle over the finer points of Stephenson's exit do not sour relations completely between the two clubs. Football tends to be such a small village that you never quite know when you might need to speak to someone again. And that includes the Hartlepool chairman.
Certainly Pools boss Danny Wilson appears convinced that he has a real prospect on his hands as the home-grown youngster switches to playing out wide with real aplomb after being born and bred an out-and-out striker.
He has eight goals already to his name this season and with Wilson having already claimed that ?500,000 wouldn't “buy his little toe”, so you sense that Hartlepool are more than happy to get a little New Year auction going and may yet be throwing Norwich's name in the hat as part of a transfer window fishing exercise.
“He can deal with the ball in tight areas, he can jink his way out of trouble and he is such a threat in the vital positions,” Wilson told the Hartlepool Echo today, after the youngster shone in the 1-0 defeat away at Swansea City in mid-week.
“He has added things to his game such as strength and bravery and he is getting better all of the time,” added Wilson. “He was exceptional on Tuesday and I am sure Roberto Martinez (Swansea's manager) identified him as the major threat, as most teams do.”
The one-time Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday manager was waxing lyrical about the player earlier this autumn – this time in the Northern Echo after Brown bagged three goals in a week.
“He drops into the pocket and is very difficult to pick up in the no man's land. Defenders don't like to be in there and midfielders won't drop deep to mark him,” explained Wilson. “If we can get the ball to him he will cause problems.
“He's got fantastic balance and he can pop it off on either foot. He's learning the job and getting goals as well, which is great.”
Roeder has long cited Stephenson's success in bringing Hartlepool's youth team starlets through to the first team as one of the reasons that he ear-marked him for his own coaching set-up.
Dig a little deeper into what's coming up through the ranks at Victoria Park and Matty Tymon's name might be one to squirrel away for future reference – provided not every bridge is burned during the course of Stephenson's protracted move south.
The young striker has already bagged 14 goals for the youth team this term – 11 more than his nearest Pools rival.
Yesterday he was promoted to the reserves and duly scored Hartlepool's third goal in their 3-1 Pontins Holiday Combination win over Scunthorpe United.
Just to complete the Canary connections, Hartlepool reserves boss is none other than ex-City skipper Ian Butterworth.
Physically strong and imposing, the only thing that might go against Tymon is the fact that he appears, from a distance, to come out of the same mould as on-loan Manchester City striker Ched Evans.
And with City boss Sven Goran Eriksson this week suggesting that he would be more than happy for 18-year-old Evans to continue his footballing education in the Championship right through to the summer, there might be no more room at the inn for one of Stephenson's former charges.
Not yet, at least.
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