City boss Glenn Roeder played the role of the complete innocent to perfection yesterday after veteran marksman Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink was spotted in the directors box a Carrow Road.
The 36-year-old former Chelsea hero is currently a free agent after his spell at Cardff City last season ended in acrimony and accusation – Hasselbaink claiming he was legally entitled to a second year at Ninian Park after making 44 appearances for the Bluebirds and thus triggering a new deal; Bluebirds owner Peter Ridsdale disputing the Dutchman's claim.
And with the two parties last seen to be reaching for their respective legal teams, it ruled out any prospect of Hasselbaink being in Norfolk on Cardiff's behalf – scouting for the club ahead of the Canaries' trip to South Wales next weekend.
All of which merely suggested that he was there as Norwich's guest. He is, after all, now a free agent and having made those 44 appearances for the Bluebirds – the last of which, of course, was an FA Cup final start at Wembley – and scored nine goals in the process, he clearly still has something to offer at this level.
Hence, in part, his anger at being denied another year by Cardiff.
“Was he?” said Roeder, asked whether he was aware that Hasselbaink was sat in the directors box – from where Roeder himself watched yesterday's 1-1 draw with Blackpool unfold for the first hour.
“I don't know… Did he come and watch the game?” added the Canary chief, after watching his goal-shy side spurn another glut of glorious chances before second-half substitute Darel Russell finally wiped out Ben Burgess' 55th minute penalty with City's first – and thus far, only – goal of the season.
Though the Dutchman is clearly not Roeder's No1 big, 'target man' quarry, having witnessed the galvanising effect that 38-year-old Dion Dublin had on a dressing room last season, Roeder may yet be tempted to add Hasselbaink's presence and experience to his pack – particularly after proving that he has the mental stomach and the physical fitness for a long Championship campaign last season.
Particularly if he's a free agent – just looking to play games and not wholly in need of another whopping, great pay-day.
Speaking earlier this summer, Roeder refused to rule out adding another Dublin-esque figure to his squad. Then, of course, there was all the talk of Lee Clark's big pal Andy Cole popping up at Colney. In the end, the 36-year-old headed for Nottingham Forest, but the willingness to give a 'golden oldie' a go remains.
“As long as they're good enough, I don't care how old they are,” said Roeder, well aware that both 18-year-old Omar Koroma and 21-year-old Arturo Lupoli could benefit from an older, mentoring head about the place. Someone who has been there, seen it and really done it.
“I'm not saying we definitely need someone like that, but I wouldn't be averse to it either,” added Roeder this summer, quizzed as to whether he would be looking for another Dion.
“I wouldn't be against it – the role model type professional. Because Dion had a great influence on the players here and if I could find one in a position that we wanted – and in an area of the field where I thought he could be most beneficial – I would certainly consider it.”
Whether Norwich need extra reinforcement in the strike department is a question that is hardly worth asking given that the City boss refused to rule out starting Russell from the start at centre-forward for next weekend's long trip to South Wales.
“Possibly – possibly,” said Roeder, quizzed after yesterday's opening home draw against the Seasiders – City's blushes only spared by Russell's 74th minute, close-range header.
Of the three goals that Norwich have scored in their last four games, the 27-year-old has now scored all three – and all from the bench. He came as close as anyone to pulling City back into last Tuesday night's Carling Cup contest with that 25-yarder that swirled against an upright.
Right now he appears to have a courage and a conviction to his forward player that the majority of his team-mates appear to lack whenever they catch a glimpse of the opposition goal.
“If I was one of those three strikers [Cureton, Lupoli, Koroma], I don't think I'd be happy about that, but possibly,” added Roeder, never one to do favours.
“As I've said to you many times before, I don't do favourites – I don't have favourites.
“I do the players who are in form – and I'll pick the strongest team that's available to me on a Friday afternoon. So for Cardiff next week – if we don't sign that striker I want; that physical striker that we badly need – it's possible that Darel has put himself very much in the position of starting. But not in central midfield, but as one of the two strikers.
“Throughout his career he's had a knack of pinching a few goals and he's got some important ones – certainly for us last year. And he's done it again today. The last thing we needed to be doing today was starting off with a home defeat.”
The fact that Matty Pattison managed to start the game ahead of Russell in a right-sided midfield role raised a few eye-brows; in fairness to Pattison, he probably produced the ball of the game with the angled ball on the half-hour between the two Blackpool centre-halves from which either Cureton or Lupoli had to score. But didn't.
“I said to him [Russell] before the game – and to Jason Shackell the same – that you're very unlucky not to be starting the game. And the way that they trained yesterday – all 20 of them – they showed me that they all wanted to start the game. An excellent session.
“But decisions have to be made. And he didn't start the game. But when he came on he affected the game which was very pleasing.
“And I know it was only from a yard out, but he showed them again how to get the ball in the back of the net. Thankfully.”
As for any fresh news on his search for that big, target man, Roeder's answer was the same as Friday's…. No, in a word.