City boss Glenn Roeder left everyone on the edge of their seats this morning as he closed in on his latest loan capture.
For having promised two new faces in the building by the end of the week after last Saturday's 3-1 away win at Barnsley, the Canary chief was still hopeful of getting halfway there – the other 50%, you sense, still sits at St Andrew's.
“He's a very talented player – that's all I'm prepared to say at the moment,” said Roeder, left to wait on a two o'clock phone call from Johnny X to say either 'Yes' or 'No' to a loan switch – with Norwich having been granted permission to take the player on loan by his full-time employers.
Says 'Yes!' and the Canaries may yet have time to squeeze him in to their plans for tomorrow's crucial home clash with Leicester City. Says 'No!' and given that his club had actually agreed to the loan, Roeder's frustrations will mount in what, as ever, is proving a challenging January market.
“I'm waiting on a two o'clock phone call today,” confirmed Roeder. “To see if we've got a lad in on loan and get him signed in time for tomorrow.
“The club are certainly happy for him to come here,” added the City boss, once again left facing the beast that is the modern day footballer – one that doesn't want to stray too far from the nearest Waitrose. Or the school run in the 4×4.
“It's just this modern-day footballer that needs 24 hours to think over a move. Why? I don't know. And that drives you nuts – that they can't make a decision straight away.
“So we'll see at two o'clock, but I'm hopeful that he'll agree to join us and I think he'll be a good loan signing as well. But we'll just have to wait until that phone call comes in to see whether we can get him signed in time and he can at least be on the bench tomorrow.”
Having already been spurned once by a player who didn't fancy spending Boxing Day in Norfolk, hell might hath no fury like a manager scorned again for the pursuit of an easy life, surrounded by all the comforts of a Premiership footballer's home.
Roeder has long since proved that he has friends in high places – Sven Goran Eriksson at Manchester City has now agreed twice to let his young marksman Ched Evans to come out to play, while Chelsea's director of football Frank Arnesen has pushed their defensive starlet Ryan Bertrand Roeder's way following Jimmy Smith's return to Stamford Bridge.
The big favour that Roeder has to call on is, of course, out of Arsenal where he enjoys a long-standing friendship with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. Borrowing a little something from the Emirates has been complicated by Arsenal's run to the Carling Cup semi-finals, but the need to get his young charges out playing on a full-time basis may yet weigh more heavily on Wenger's mind.
Equally, Roeder could turn to someone more experienced; someone simply out of favour with his manager and unlikely to figure large in his New Year plans.
Either way, it promises to be a pivotal phone-call as the new Canary boss continues to tip-toe his way through the transfer minefield.
“It is the most difficult window to trade in – it's much easier in the summer,” said Roeder. “It's just a question of clubs wanting to hang on to their players. Even releasing them on loan is proving difficult.”
Prices can go through the roof – as Birmingham City are fast discovering with their pursuit of Everton's James McFadden. From ?2 million, to ?4 million and on again to a reported ?5.5 million – only to find another suitor entering the market.
“It is over-heated – it always is January,” said Roeder, with a clean bill of health injury-wise ahead of tomorrow's Foxes' clash.
“Because the seller knows that you need players – whether you're a club that's trying to get into the play-offs; whether you're in an automatic position to get promoted; or your fighting for your lives at the other end of the table. They know you need these players and, of course, that drives the price up.
“Simply because there isn't enough quality to go round. As I've said recently, I could sign what I would consider poor players for this club every day of the week.
“But there isn't any point in that. It makes back page news for one night and then when the supporters see them play, then it's the other kind of news that you don't want.”
City have, of course, been down that particular road on all too many an occasion of late. Hence you sense that – for now – Roeder continues to do his New Year shopping in the top flight.
“We've looked at a few players in the lower divisions but those would be more permanent moves in the summer,” he added. “Nothing's easy, but the Premiership squads are bigger and, generally speaking, if there's one or two players that have not figured too much or have fallen out with the manager, then they're more inclined to let them out on loan.”