City boss Glenn Roeder this morning looked back on a frantic 36-hours on the January transfer merry-go-round – and rued the one that got away.
The Canaries finished the last two days of the New Year window with four in and two out – Middlesbrough's 21-year-old centre-half Matthew Bates being joined by three teenagers, the Reading pair of Alex Pearce and James Henry, plus Gunners starlet Keiran Gibbs.
Out of the door went Simon Lappin, on loan until the end of the season with Motherwell, and Ryan Jarvis, who joined Notts County's relegation fight.
Roeder this morning admitted that he had his sights set on a fifth once Birmingham City withdrew Martin Taylor from the 'For Sale' list after the Gary Cahill deal collapsed.
And while Roeder wasn't naming names, a swift scan through yesterday's deadline day deal revealed a prime suspect – Southampton's Polish international striker Grzegorz Rasiak.
“I got everything that I wanted – other than a striker. I really wanted another striker,” said the Canary chief, quizzed as to how the last 36 hours had been.
“A good experienced striker. And the guy that I wanted ended up going to the Premiership on loan. So that's life.”
Rasiak, 29, proved just what a handful he can be by twice rattling the City woodwork at St Mary's on Tuesday night. His first low drive cannoned back off the inside of David Marshall's right-hand post; the second, after the break, smashed against the outside of the upright.
With Southampton's chronic financial problems forcing the board to bundle both Rasiak and Rudi Skacel out of the door before the window closed, Roeder was ready and willing to pounce after getting little joy from Scunthorpe United in his ?850,000 chase of Martin Paterson.
The saving grace came in the late call from Eastlands with Manchester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson confirming that 19-year-old Ched Evans could not stay until the end of the season.
“What was important was that late yesterday afternoon the call came through from Manchester City that Ched (Evans) could stay until the end of the season because that would have been a hammer blow – because he could have been called back in a couple of weeks time.”
Roeder now has seven loan players at his disposal – only five of whom can feature in any given 16. He still has one more up his sleeve. And when that next 'emergency loan' window reopens in six days time, so Norwich could be back dipping their toe in that water again as Premiership managers work out who, exactly, is now surplus to their own requirements following their own mad spin on the transfer merry-go-round.
Taylor may well be one for the summer when, revealed Roeder, he will have even more money to spend.
“He wasn't for sale in the end,” said the City chief, conceding that in the end he had matched Karren Brady's ?1 million valuation on the 6ft 4in centre-half only for Bolton's move for Gary Cahill to scupper their bid. If Rasiak was, indeed, the one that got away, ex-Canary boss Gary Megson managed to throw two spanners into Roeder's works.
“You couldn't buy him. They never got a central defender in – and they needed to keep him. It's as simple as that. Coventry bid the same amount of money as we did – and we ended up offering what she (Karren Brady) wanted – but he couldn't be bought.
“Alex (McLeish) was desperate for the centre-back that ended up going to Bolton and had he got that, that would have freed up Martin.”
Put the ?1 million they couldn't give away to Blues and the ?850,000 of Paterson money that might have been switched Rasiak's way and Roeder clearly had cash to spend. And nor will the four loan deals – five including Evans' extended stay – have come without a hefty price tag attached. And that despite the fact that Norwich will be doing Middlesbrough, Reading and Arsenal a huge favour in polishing up their teenage diamonds in readiness for the Premiership next season.
Certainly, Roeder wasn't suggesting any lack of support from the boardroom – he'd just made two, big moves for two players and got knocked back on both as Bolton stepped in for Rasiak and Birmingham whipped Taylor off the market.
Come the summer and half his possible starting line-up will be packing their bags for home, although goalposts have a habit of moving. Of the three players that Arsenal loaned out to Birmingham last season, two signed on full-time at St Andrew's; Evans' Manchester City strike pal Ishmael Miller became a full-time Baggies player yesterday. Things can move on – particularly if you can get money and Norfolk surroundings to talk.
“I've just kept the powder dry – there's money there to spend,” said the City boss. “It was just trying to find the right player that takes us beyond this season. We tried to buy two and got knocked back on both of them.
“And we'll have to wait to the summer perhaps for those two lads,” he added. “So there's no criticism of the board. There's money there to spend – if I could have found the right players to spend it on.
“These lads here that have come in on loan, their clubs want them back. They're here for the experience; they're here to become better players when we send them back at the end of the season.”
He wasn't, it appeared, willing to be dragged down the road of paying silly season prices – just because it was January. “Other managers do what they have to do. I always try to be very careful with other people's money and make sure that we get good value for money when we do purchase.
“I'm confident that what I didn't spend now will be available in the summer – plus more.”
Amidst all of which it was easy to forget that Norwich had a game tomorrow – and the odd injury concern too after skipper Mark Fotheringham disappeared after 20-odd minutes on Tuesday night with a dead leg. “We think he's got a good chance,” was Roeder's verdict this morning, ahead of this weekend's home clash with Preston North End. “He thinks he's going to be OK.”
Which five of his seven loan players makes the final 16 will be interesting. Suddenly, the Canary boss has options in every direction. And nor is he expecting anyone to hold his youngsters' hands.
“I think that the group of young players that I've got in can look after themselves – I don't think they'll need a nanny.”