City boss Glenn Roeder today wasted little time in addressing the Canaries' chronic failings in front of goal this season by dipping his toe back in the loan transfer market and snapping up Reading's Leroy Lita on a month long-loan deal.
In fact, signing the 23-year-old former England Under-21 international is more a case of throwing toe, ankle, knee, hip, body and all into the loan market after last nigth's 2-0 defeat at Southampton saw the Norfolk side slump back down to 19th place.
With just one goal to their name in their last three outings – and that a 92nd minute one-off from Lee Croft – City produced little more than one Antoine Sibierski header at Oakwell on Saturday.
Last night and the Canaries had at least four, big, big chances to earn themselves a point against a teenage Southampton side. Instead, Sibierski hit the base of a post, Omar Koroma twice found ex-Town keeper Kelvin Davis in inspired form – or was guilty of glorious misses, depending on whether you glass was half full or half empty – whilst City's current leading goal-scorer Arturo Lupoli could likewise find no way beyond the Saints No1 in the game's dying seconds.
Hence why Roeder felt he had little option but to dive straight back into that part-time market in a bid to kick-start Norwich's season again on Saturday with the visit of fellow strugglers Derby County.
News of Lita's arrival this lunchtime also proves that Reading boss Steve Coppell bears Roeder no ill-will for the non-event that was James Henry's loan switch last season – presumeably recognising, instead, the benefit that Alex Pearce gained for his more successful spell in Norfolk – whilst also proves, once again, that the City chief enjoys contacts and favours out of the top drawer.
This is not a third choice Rangers left-back arriving at Carrow Road.
Lita is a proven Premiership animal – 14 goals in your debut season in the the English top flight is no mean feat. He's quick; direct. And he's here.
The fact that his month-long loan spell contains a two-week lay-off for the forthcoming international break is also very telling – it underlines the urgency to Roeder's thinking after every combination he has tried alongside Sibierski fails to deliver a finish. Or at least on the consistent basis that Norwich require to ever stake a claim to a place in the top half of the table.
Lita's loan spell finishes after the game against Burnley on Saturday, November 1, and will, therefore, include a return trip to his old employers Bristol City on October 18.
“I can't tell you how pleased I am to be able to secure the loan signing of Leroy Lita from Reading,” Roeder told the club's official website this afternoon – in a move that few would predicted on Monday when City chief executive Neil Doncaster suggested that the manager's playing budget was all-but spent out on the back of those 2007-2008 account figures and the exit of the Turners this summer.
That if Roeder's budget of ?8.5 million was due to be coming down to ?5 million in the none-too distant future, that rule book has been bent by someone. Needs must, would be the compelling argument. In part, his arrival financially might have been off-set by today's news that the forgotten Luke Chadwick is off to Milton Keynes Dons on a three-month loan deal.
Three months of Chadwick's wages might make for one month of Lita's; provided that there is no 'loan fee' due to the Royals.
“He has a fantastic goal-scoring record in the Premier League and the Championship,” added the City boss, talking about Lita, not Chadwick. The latter was – curiously – 12-1 to score the first Norwich goal at St Mary's last night. Clearly the man from Ladbroke's wasn't in Roeder's loop as the one-time Manchester United youngster packed his bags for the chance of first team football not a million miles from his Cambridge base.
“He [Lita] is someone that I believe will take the chances that we have been creating, but not converting.”
Back in Berkshire and Reading boss Coppell was clearly hoping that this loan move would not only pump some match fitness back in his ?1 million signing, but wit the January transfer window popping up on the horizon, a switch to Carrow Road could be an ideal shop window if Reading are in the mood to do a spot of business in the New Year.
Not, of course, with the Canaries – not unless there is a dramatic change on the inward investment front over the next three months.
“With a lot of strikers here competing for two places, this loan move is the best thing for Leroy at the moment,” said the Royals chief.
“Reserve team football is not regular or a good enough standard and he wants to play every week, so it's a great opportunity for him to dothat a a very competitive level and, hopefully, score some goals.”
Lita last featured from the start in the 2-2 Carling Cup draw at Stoke City in which Henry bagged a double on September 23rd. The fact that Reading could travel to Molineux last night and halt the Woles band-wagon in its tracks with that 3-0 success – and all with Lita nowhere to be seen – suggests that in the likes of the prolific Kevin Doyle and his fellow Irishman Noel Hunt, Coppell feels he has his strike bases covered.
He clearly thought that at the end of last season when the Congo-born Lita was farmed out to Charlton Athletic on loan; three goals from eight appearances for the Addicks is a fair return.
His arrival does, however, have one further knock-on effect – it complicates Roeder's loan numbers ever further. Five domestic-based loans are allowed to feature in any 'starting' 16.
Ryan Bertrand, Elliot Omosuzi and Antoine Sibierski are all-but set in stone – as, of course, will Lita.
Which leaves one gig up for grabs – in the team or on the bench. Which, given Dejan Stefanovic's red card last night, will have to go to on-loan Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Grounds.
All of which ensures that the luckless Koroma – who displayed all the strength and trickery you'd want to create the biggest chance of the night last evening, albeit minus the final finish – will, in every likelihood, have to join Troy Archibald-Henville in the stands for the next month.
Leave a Reply