Quite why Cardiff City's no-nonsense centre-half Darren Purse was figuring large in Bryan Gunn's transfer thoughts this evening became ever more clear as the Canaries threw away a 2-0 lead in familiar fashion and ensured that the new manager's opening game in full-time charge didn't quite go off as planned.
In fact, it went off as all too many Norwich games have in the past. Badly off, as Kayne McLaggon's deflected reply 12 minutes into the second period was followed by a shocking 78th minute leveller from Marek Saganowski.
Deep, regulation cross into the Canary box from Lloyd James; David Marshall comes, stops, retreats; Saganowski, wholly unmarked, guides a simple downward header inside the keeper's left upright and oh-so many old habits were ruining Norwich's night.
Something for new coach Ian Crook to work on. Marking.
“We said at half-time to the players that 2-0 was a dangerous scoreline,” said Gunn afterwards, the result leaving Norwich perched in 19th just one point above the drop zone. And all with Doncaster away to come on Friday night.
“So, yes, little bit disappointing second half because we didn't capitalise on the possession and the passion the boys had in the first half.”
The first half had, in fairness, belonged to City. And Wes Hoolahan.
For while Mark Fotheringham's 38th minute opener was a neat enough tuck off a Jamie Cureton tee-up, Hoolahan's second three minutes later was a real, 30-yard show-stopper.
A swerving, dipping beauty that made it two in two for the former Blackpool playmaker under Gunn's encouraging man-management – two in total for his Canary career after never quite reaching such heights under former regimes. And but for three, big saves from Kelvin Davis it could have been all over. Jason Euell would deny a Darel Russell looper right at the death.
As for Purse, 31, he was reported to be in Norfolk for talks tomorrow. Gunn wouldn't be drawn.
“I've been involved in 95 minutes of Championship football,” he said. “We've got a lot of phone calls in to different clubs and Neil Doncaster is going to be a busy man over the next few days.”
The transfer window actually extends to 5pm on Monday, the 2nd. But given Norwich's need, events might move quicker than that.
“We've got interest in a lot of players – and we want players that can battle. And play football for us.”
Purse would certainly do the former. Out of contract at the Ninian in the summer, Bluebirds boss Dave Jones might also be happy to cash his former skipper in after the pair started to go their separate ways in the autumn.
The two clashed very publically after the 2-1 defeat by Birmingham City when Jones singled him out afterwards for criticism – “switched off”, were the two words that lit Purse's blue touch paper.
“When things are said in the dressing room they should stay in the dressing room,” was his pointed riposte to the manager.
“If people hold their hands up I don't think it needs to be emblazoned over the papers on a Sunday morning. Little lapses that come out need to be kept in-house among the players and management staff.
“Then hopefully we can address them together instead of involving other people.”
Purse will certainly add a little aggression to the City back line – he twice saw red in the space of a week last autumn; not something that would have helped his relations with Jones.
That particular side to his game also cost him a big day out at Cardiff in 2002 when, having featured in both the play-off semi-final games against Millwall, he was suspended for Blues' Millennium Stadium victory against his prospective new employers.
To this day, that niggles.
“What was really galling was that after all that effort, I ended up missing the play-off final when we went up. I was gutted about that,” he told the South Wales Echo last autumn. Nor did he even get a medal.
“They only gave them to the squad on the day in Cardiff,” he admitted.
He arrived at St Andrews in 1997 from Oxford United with then Birmingham boss Trevor Francis hailing him as the perfect replacement for a certain Steve Bruce – then finishing his playing days at Blues.
“He said that I was going to be the man to replace Steve and that was a massive boost for my confidence because Brucey was a great player. I played alongside him for a few games and the amount I learnt off him was immense.”
And if just a little of the Bruce of old still lingers then Gunn's first foray into the transfer market could prove a smart one.
He is certainly one man you would want in the trenches next to you. Which is, after all, where the Canaries will be between now and the end of the season.
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