City boss Bryan Gunn this morning sketched out the briefest of details as to who might tick his transfer box this summer – and insisted again that only leaders of men need apply.
“Bosses,” was the word that the Canary manager used in the wake of that devastating farewell to the Championship at The Valley. Some three weeks on and Gunn is still on the prowl for the kind of big and determined characters that were all-but non-existent at Charlton.
“People who lead by example on the pitch – people who have maybe already been the captains of their club; maybe out of contract.
“Those are the type of characters that we'll be looking very closely at,” said the City chief, as City supporters waited for the first arrival of a fresh face this troubled summer.
The rumour mill has already unearthed one character who would fit such a bill – Hartlepool United skipper Michael Nelson.
The fact that he will have played under new Canary No2 Ian Butterworth and is the kind of strapping, non-nonsense six-foot two-inch central defender that League One demands merely fans the flames.
The 27-year-old is also out of contract this summer – ensuring that the cash-strapped Canaries would not have to find a transfer fee. Nor would they have to deal again with a Pools board that haven't proved overly co-operative after the Norfolk club came a-calling for first their Youth team coach Paul Stephenson and then first team coach Butterworth.
Nelson is also due to get married this summer – something which might also put his arrival on hold. As will a clutch of other interested parties. Norwich will not be the only show in town – as Gunn is all too well aware of.
Characters are in very short supply these days. Particularly those that come without a transfer fee attached.
“There will be a lot of teams in the Championship – and at the top end of League One after the same players,” said Gunn, determined to keep his cards very close to his chest this summer.
“And we've got to be very conscious of that – and that when we do get a chance to speak to these players that we make a good impression.”
Whilst so much about Carrow Road remains firmly up in some pretty poisonous air right now – particularly for as along as the questions as to the make-up of the board and the executive linger – so Gunn's requirements have never been in much doubt. From day one he has insisted on hungry, determined characters and two weeks into his second bite at City's managerial cherry, so nothing has changed as he looks to “right the wrong” of relegation to League One.
“People who have been captains at their club; that have those leadership qualities – they are the people we are looking for.
“And it might not just be the one – if we can find more than one person of that type, then so much the better.
“People who, when they get to go out at Carrow Road in front of 25,000 people, their leadership qualities come right to the fore.”
Certainly Master Rudd has never been shy in coming forward when the big opportunities knock – his penalty shoot-out heroics en route to that FA Youth Cup quarter-final clash with then favourites Manchester City merely confirming that the kid keeper is one to watch.
The teenage Academy prospect duly got his reward this week with elevation into Brian Eastwick's England Under-19 party as Gunn confirmed, with David Marshall having already fled the nest for Cardiff City, Rudd will be given every opportunity to stake his own claim for the No1 slot next season.
He may be tender in years, but the kid appears to tick the 'character' box. Would Gunn be worried giving Rudd the gig come August 8?
?Not at all. He has the temperament and the technique,” said the City chief. “It would be going into the unknown, but he thrives on the big opportunity. So far, the bigger the game the better the quality he produces.
?Declan is someone who comes into our thoughts for the first team consideration and there is an opportunity for him to join in with our training and to impress in pre-season.?
As ever, Gunn has been out and about in his beloved Norfolk – picking up the mood of the masses.
Certain sections remain doubtful – if not openly hostile. The mood of the faithful at St Andrew's Hall last week in the emergency meeting called by Norwich City Independent Supporters Association was firmly against Gunn being given a second chance.
Likewise, the club's 18,000 plus season tickets holders face all manner of soul-searching when it comes to the question of their rebate; do they entrust their hard-earned money back to a board and a club that delivered third tier football to their door?
Out and about – pressing the flesh face-to-face – Gunn has discovered more friends than enemies. He still commands deep reserves of respect.
“I realise that there's a bit of discontent out there,” he admitted. “But when I get to meet people face-to-face, there's some very positive stuff being said and if we can get a couple of positive signings on board then that can obviously help.
“But we need to make sure that we start off the season well – with the results going the right way. And there's a lot of hard work to be done between now and August 8.”
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