They always say that diamonds are a girl's best friend. From now on, however, diamonds are the only thing that are going to be on the mind of City goalkeeping legend Bryan Gunn has he scours the globe for new Carrow Road heroes.
The long-time Carrow Road favourite – still one of the most instantly recognisable faces around the city – was this afternoon unveiled as the club's new 'Head of Player Recruitment' as Canary boss Glenn Roeder continued with his sweeping reforms on and off the pitch.
For as Gunn donned at least the fifth cap of his long and illustrious Norwich City career – from straight-forward UEFA Cup goalkeeper, to sponsorship sales manager, to Ambassador, to 'club liason officer' and on to temporary goalkeeping coach following Jim Hollman's exit earlier this season – so another of the Colney backroom team was exiting out of the back door as chief scout Alan Wood ended his seven-year association with the Norfolk club.
And as the game of musical chairs continued, so Roeder revealed the full-time answer to Hollman's exit and Gunn's switch – ex-Ballymena boss Tommy Wright, who becomes the club's new goalkeeping coach.
“I'm absolutely delighted to be taken on-board by the new manager and coaching team,” said Gunn this afternoon, as the former Norwich Sheriff rounds up a new-look posse to begin the world-wide hunt for new talent.
“The new scouting network that is being put into place is a very important part of clubs like Norwich City,” added the former Player of the Season, well aware of the hugely competitive market that he is about to step into – and all armed with little more than a battered contacts book and a well-used mobile phone.
“With the finances available in the Premier League, clubs can employ people full-time in different countries abroad and, obviously, we have to cut our cloth accordingly and do the best that we can with the finances that are available. But the diamonds are out there waiting to be found.”
The trick, according to Roeder, was to match Gunn's contacts book with his. Throw in friends and acquaintances of City No2 Lee Clark and between the three of them, they will have many a base already covered.
“Having worked with Gunny this last seven months, I feel he can do a good job in this vitally important area,” said Roeder, as his summer rebuilding plans continued at a pace.
“He has a wealth of experience and, very significantly, is extremely well connected.”
Gunn's Old Trafford connections with Sir Alex Ferguson may well have got the Canaries to within a whisker of signing young, Manchester United centre-half Ryan Shawcross on loan last summer only for Stoke City to step in at the death.
Part of his remit will also be to keep one eye on those players that are coming out of contract every summer as more and more players exploit the 'Bosman Ruling' and become free agents. Sifting through the piles of videos despatched by hopeful agents the world over is likely to be a full-time job in itself.
“There is a lot of what you might describe as 'undercover' work,” said Gunn. “Particularly with the amount of players that are out of contract in the modern game; finding out when they're coming out of contract and the like.
“But, hopefully, with my list of contacts in the game – and those of the manager and the coaching staff – we can work together to get the football club back to where we all know that it belongs.”
For now there was no official word on whether or not Gunn's new-look scouting network would include Paul Baker as the club's 'northern scout'. The former manager of Unibond outfit Newcastle Blue Star quit his post recently amid reports that he was about to join the Canaries' scouting team – reports that immediately put a question mark over Wood's future.
Not for the first time – or possibly the last – this summer, Roeder was 'paying tribute' to a departing member of staff.
“I would like to pay tribute to Alan [Wood] for the work he has done for the club over the past seven seasons and wish him well for the future,” Roeder told the club's official website.
Wright, 44, was widely linked to a switch to Norfolk in the New Year, but at the time felt his immediate priority was with Ballymena.
“Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the move in January when it was first discussed, but my circumstances have changed and I'm absolutely delighted to be joining Norwich City,” said the former Northern Ireland international keeper, who is a former team-mate of Roeder and Clark from their days at St James' Park together.
The City chief has proved patient in his capture of Wright – well aware that with the likes of England youth youngsters Declan Rudd and Jed Steer on his hands, finding a top goalkeeping coach was vital if both teenagers are to fulfil their early potential. David Marshall is little more than a babe in arms himself by goalkeeping standards.
“The club has an excellent reputation for producing top quality goalkeepers and that's obviously something that we want to keep going,” Wright told the club's official website this afternoon.
Robert Green, Andy Marshall and, of course, Peterborough's England Under-21 keeper Joe Lewis have all rolled off the Colney production line and it is widely felt that both Rudd and Steer could follow in those kind of foot-steps with the right guidance and tuition.
“There are some excellent keepers at the club and I'm really looking forward to working with them when I start in June,” added Wright. “What Glenn, Lee and Paul [Stephenson] are aiming to achieve at Norwich is something very exciting and I'm delighted to be part of that.”
Roeder – who continues to be linked with a move for Luton midfielder David Bell – was clearly convinced that his patience had paid off; that like every good Mountie, he had got his man.
“He was always my No1 choice,” said the City boss.
“It was Tommy's wealth of experience working at club and international level – and the fact that I know his qualities having worked with him at Newcastle – that persuaded me he was absolutely the right man for the job.”
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