Quite why new City boss Bryan Gunn was quite so keen to bring Ian Crook's one-time Aussie pupil David Carney into the Canary fold became clear today as David Bell joined Coventry City “for an undisclosed fee”.
The 25-year-old had already caught the Sky Blues' eye under ex-boss Glenn Roeder – at the time, of course, Bell was linked to a swap deal for Sky Blues centre-half Elliott Ward.
Roeder rubbished such talk; suggesting that he knew “where the stories came from”.
Today, however, it became readily apparent that Coventry's interest was at least genuine as Bell's short-lived spell in Norfolk came to an end with today's switch to the Ricoh.
It will, at least, free up Gunn's hand to secure Lee Croft's signature on a new Canary contract; a combination of today's 'undisclosed fee' and the savings in Bell's wages could now put the Canaries in a position to tie their 23-year-old winger to a fresh deal.
“David hasn't had the opportunity to show us his quality on his preferred side of the pitch,” Gunn told the club's official website this morning.
“He approached me last week and asked about the situation – saying that he wanted to move back closer to home with his young family.
“And when Coventry made their offer, David was clear he wanted to go,” added Gunn, insisting that he left Norfolk with no ill-will after making just 20 appearances in a City shirt.
In fairness, having shipped in Carney on loan for the rest of the season from Sheffield United the City boss had got his replacement in before Bell left. Not every manager has been able to pull off that trick in the past.
“David has been very professional and we wish him well in his future career.”
Confirming the 'major' signing this morning, the official Coventry City revealed that Bell had been offered a three-and-a-half year deal at the Ricoh – evidence of Chris Coleman's long-held desire to bolt the player into his own thinking.
Coleman had, of course, been there or thereabouts last summer when Roeder dug Bell out of Luton Town – complete with a niggling ankle injury. One that still requires further surgery. That said, Bell still delivered an excellent ball – but always playing off his wrong foot away on the left.
Hence why Gunn could be heard muttering about the 'balance' that Carney would offer on the left; left-footed player playing on the left.
What was also interesting poking around in Coventry City's business was their willingness to offload striker Michael Mifsud to the highest bidder – his price dropping by the day as the clock ticked down to next Monday night's 5pm January transfer deadline.
If the Canaries were ever interested, that line of enquiry has now been over-taken by Gunn's on-going pursuit of Cardiff City skipper Darren Purse. With the two parties still talking, perhaps the new City chief will turn his thoughts elsewhere; to adding fresh firepower to his pack.
Perhaps. That Coleman is selling Mifsud is not in doubt.
“Maybe we have all got to drop our asking price, both us as a club and Michael with his personal terms because we are not getting anywhere,” admitted Coleman, told the Coventry Evening Telegraph.
The 27-year-old Maltese striker has been off colour this season – grabbing just two goals. Last season, however, and he was on fire. He bagged 19 goals in all competitions – including both goals in the Sky Blues' 2-0 Carling Cup away win at Manchester United.
Whether Coleman's suggestion that Mifsud's heart has not exactly been in it this term might put one or two suitors off is another matter; as is his idea of a 'cut price' deal.
Closer to home and Gunn may still be happy enough to put his faith in Jamie Cureton's yellow and green blood – that and a better big 'un, if Carl Cort's fitness issues continue to linger.
“I know he has been a crowd favourite but, as a manager, I have got to look at who wants to be here, regardless of how good anyone is, because a good spirit is important and in the end it is detrimental to everyone else,” said Coleman.
“I want a nice happy spirit but also a fighting and willing spirit, and you get that from players who want to be here for the next two to three years. Michael has said he wants to go and this window is the best time.”
Minus Bell, the chances of Carney making some sort of appearance at the KeepMoat Stadium, Doncaster, clearly grow.
Gunn did, however, hint yesterday that they could be keen to run a particular horse for an away-day horse – appropriate in the circumstances given that tonight's fixture was pushed forward 24 hours to accommodate racing at Doncaster tomorrow.
So, for example, if Carney came in on the left, the in-form Wes Hoolahan could be dropped inside into that little hole off Cureton.
The big question then, of course, would be what Gunn would do with Darel Russell given that he is another of his yellow-and-green brothers brigade – drop him back onto the bench or give him his chance back in his preferred position of centre midfield?
He is, after all, likely to be needed there come Tuesday night's trip to Wolves when skipper Mark Fotheringham will be missing through suspension.
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