It was the day of the long knives at Colney this morning as City boss Glenn Roeder terminated a second Canary contract – this time that of Frenchman Julien Brellier.
The one-time Milan prospect – who celebrated his 26th birthday just yesterday – followed David Strihavka out of the door as Roeder passed swift judgement on 'Le Juge'. Bang. Gone.
The City chief had hinted earlier that Strihavka might not be the only one on his way; that a tidying up operation might be on the cards as he looked to use this month's transfer window to radically re-shape his squad.
“Has it been a busy week? Yes, you could say that,” said Roeder, ten minutes late for this morning's Press conference as he fielded another phone call.
“It's the same for every other manager at the moment. Whether he's trying to bring players in or trying to move players on – and in our case we're trying to do both.”
Roeder has, of course, already cleared the decks of two players this week – keeper Joe Lewis and striker Chris Brown. Both went with ?400,000 cheques coming the other way from Peterborough and Preston North End respectively. Given that neither player was likely to start on a regular basis, picking up ?800,000 for the pair is not bad business.
Cancelling the contracts of both Strihavka and now Brellier is business of a different kind. Strihavka made it as far as the bench in the recent Reserve team humbling by neighbours Ipswich; Brellier has all but disappeared without trace. He was understood to be heading back into Europe with Switzerland one reported desination; likewise Strihavka was reported to have a new club lined up back in the Czech Republic.
“There's a list of targets that we want to bring in and there's a list of players that we will be quite happy to shake hands with and wave 'Good-bye!' to,” said Roeder, busily working down that latter list. The suspicion reemains that Ian Murray might also be on that list with the Rangers' utility man way down the manager's pecking order.
It is a measure of just how far Brellier had fallen off Roeder's radar that even with Matty Pattison suspended for tomorrow's trip to Barnsley and with the Canaries setting themselves out with three, more defensive-minded midfielders away from home he was still deemed surplus to requirements. Word always was that Brellier was something of a one-man band at Colney and that the one-time Hearts midfielder remained very much a closed book.
Certainly Roeder gave every impression that the three-man midfield with one natural winger set-up was something that – for now – will remain in place. The only question thereafter is whether it is Lee Croft or Darren Huckerby who gets the nod.
“I decided a number of weeks ago that with two, out-and-out wingers who don't exactly specialise in tracking back and helping out their full-backs that we were far too open,” said the City boss.
“Before I came here we'd taken, what, one point away from home? On the opening day of the season? We've got to be tougher to beat. And if that means playing with just one naturally wide player and three more solid in midfield then that's what we will continue to do.
“Because, as much as we want to entertain, we want to win games even more. And if we can entertain at the same time, well, that's a bonus.”
With Pattison sitting out this weekend's Championship contest, Jimmy Smith back at Chelsea and Brellier on his way, there is a distinct possibility that Roeder will employ Ryan Bertrand in front of Mo Camara – leaving Croft to get the starting nod on the right.
The on-loan teenager is swiftly making a big impression after his little, second-half run-out against Bury last weekend.
“He's made a big impression in training this week,” said Roeder, clearly more than tempted to give the Chelsea starlet his first start in the Championship tomorrow.
“He looks an outstanding young player. And from what I've seen so far I have no doubt that he will bridge the gap from playing at Oldham and coming up to us in the Championship.”
Jason Shackell is the one slight injury doubt; he will have a fitness test today before making the trip to South Yorkshire.
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