Birmingham City chief executive Karren Brady opted to test Norwich's spirit of goodwill this festive Yule by claiming that “no proposal” was ever made by the Canaries regarding a potential, full-time move for in-demand centre-half Martin Taylor.
Not that the Norfolk club ever had the money either, was another little barb heading back the Canaries' way as the fall-out over Taylor's proposed loan-stroke-permanent deal continued.
“As always, the main priority for the board of Birmingham City is our own football club and as such it is our job to ensure that we act in its best interests at all times,” Brady told Saturday's Birmingham Evening Mail after being cited as the reason that the 28-year-old centre-half headed back to Birmingham City's reserves this week – despite his own desire to stay at Carrow Road for at least another month.
After that and with the January transfer window open for business, the sight of the three Taylor Jnrs running round a hotel in their new Norwich City shirt gave City boss Glenn Roeder every reason to suspect that November's Anglian Player of the Month might be more than ready to discuss a full-time solution to Norwich's age-old No5 problem.
Brady's overwhelming desire, however, appeared to be to sell the unwanted Taylor off to Queen's Park Rangers for ?1.25 million – whatever the player's views were of a move to London. Nor, it seems, was she too amused to see her name and the words 'stumbling' and 'block' appear in the same sentence as Roeder struggled to conceal his intense disappointment at the way everything had unravelled last week.
“Should clubs wish to make an approach to us with regard to any of our players, we would ask that this is done in the correct and proper manner and not via the media,” she told The Mail, as she insisted that Norwich's only hope of securing Taylor's services for a second month was if they had put a full-time deal in place for the 1st of January. This, she claimed, never happened. Three seperate, senior sources at Carrow Road would today insist that it did.
If only to avoid killing any last hopes of resurrecting a full-time deal in the New Year, officially the club had no comment to make on Brady's statement to the Birmingham Mail.
“The board of Birmingham City took the decision not to allow Martin's emergency loan at Norwich City to be extended; he was only to be made available for a permanent transfer in the January window,” explained Brady to the paper.
“Norwich City have been aware of this fact in the build up to Martin's expiry at Norwich City. No proposal from Norwich has been forthcoming. Martin is a player with talent and a number of clubs, not only with the desire to sign him, but also the money, have contacted us. Should Norwich City wish to buy our player I suggest Glenn should just pick up the phone and call me.”
QPR are, of course, now awash with Formula One money; they are also chaired by a former near-neighbour of the Blues chief executive, Gianni Paladini. Taylor just doesn't want to go there. As Roeder told the world on Friday.
“She had a bid from QPR on the table that she'd accepted, but that was a worthless piece of paper – he didn't want to play for QPR or go down to London. So that's the outcome,” said Roeder, at Friday's pre-match Press conference. He was then – and on the club's official website later – insistent that the Carrow Road board had done all he expected in their quest to prise Taylor out of St Andrews.
Much will now depend on the player's own attitude; whether he proves just as stubborn with regard to a switch to Loftus Road and insists on 'Only Norwich…'; or likewise whether Brady now adopts an 'Anyone but Norwich…' approach when the January transfer window re-opens.
The whole messy episode has uncanny echoes of the lengthy Darren Huckerby saga when the player's agent, Phil Smith, playing the part of the pantomime villain. This year and it is Mrs Peschisolido in the Widow Twankee costume.
Taylor certainaly gave every impression of being a man who very much knew his only mind. Given the fact that she has, in every likelihood, denied him the chance of playing any meaningful football for at least the next three weeks with the suggestion being that new Blues boss Alex McLeish views the six-foot four-inch defender as his fifth-choice centre-half, then relations between player and employer are likely to be less than cordial.
Back in Norfolk and Roeder had little option but to reunite Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell at the heart of that City defence. In fairness, neither could be held to blame for the Us 78th minute opener. Equally, Doherty was very much centre-stage for Norwich's last-gasp leveller – if with the helping hand of a hapless Danny Granville.
“I thought Doc (Doherty) did particularly well,” said Roeder, quizzed as to how he felt the reunited Doherty-Shackell show did at Layer Road.
“He (Doherty) had played three games for me now and overall, he's been outstanding. He's more than capable of being a good player in the Championship,” added the City chief, who got the nod on that front from one of Peter Grant's old pals – Wolves boss Mick McCarthy.
“Mick said to me a few weeks ago that Doc won't let you down – he knows him obviously from his days with the Republic of Ireland – and Doc hasn't. He hasn't let himself down or the team. And with his experience he's an important player to play alongside Shacks (Shackell).”
They weren't without the odd slip – indeed, it took a fabulous covering run and tackle from the blossoming Jon Otsemobor to deny Mark Yeates late on after the Us winger rounded David Marshall with an empty goal beckoning.
“I thought they did better in the second-half,” said Roeder. “Or Shackell did better in the second-half. I thought in the first-half he allowed Platt to dominate him a little bit, but I told him at half-time and he did a lot better in the second-half.”