City boss Bryan Gunn tonight admitted that he would happily start the season tomorrow with the players now at his disposal.
Well, maybe just one more…
Grant Holt's arrival for a reported ?400,000 late this afternoon made it ten new faces the Canary chief has now collected this summer; nine of whom are on full-time deals with the Norfolk club.
Only one – Spurs keeper Ben Alnwick – is at Carrow Road on loan.
And if that is a break with recent tradition when first Peter Grant and then Glenn Roeder sought Championship salvation on the back of someone else's Premiership players, the fact that Gunn pretty much has his 2009-2010 squad assembled with a full fortnight of pre-season still to go is definitely one for the scrapbook.
Nine times out of ten and City managers past are still scrabbling about for that elusive, final piece in the jigsaw come the midnight hour on August 31; the clock ticking down before the summer's transfer window slams shut.
Either that or big pieces of the jigsaw are itching to get away – Damien Francis no-show in the pre-season friendly away at Colchester United being the classic of that breed.
Gunn – in conjunction with new Canary chief executive David McNally – has managed to get everyone he wanted through the door pretty much on schedule enabling him to live without the likes of a Sammy Clingan or a Darel Russell.
McNally admitted privately after today's unveiling of new No9 Holt that he had set himself a deadline of today to get all the major pieces of the jigsaw into place.
His manager now has two weeks and three friendlies – against a Manchester United XI tomorrow, Crystal Palace on Tuesday night and Wigan on the following Saturday – to get them all to fit neatly together before Colchester United arrive on August 8 for the start of the new League One season.
In fairness to all concerned, it has been quite a feat of arms. And while none of this summer's signings might have been of the household name variety, all appear to be just the kind of solid citizens you'd want for a League One fight.
Now Gunn is ready to rumble – kicking off against Sir Alex Ferguson's young wannabe's tomorrow.
The fact that he has now got his squad in place early “could be crucial”, he admitted.
“Certainly come the first two months of the season where we want to make an impact straight away,” said the City, well aware that there remain the Doubting Thomas' out there – unimpressed with Gunn's role in those closing months of last season and that dread day at The Valley.
For many a reason, he needs to hit the ground running in a fortnight. And after a day in which four new faces arrived at Carrow Road, so he's given himself a chance.
“The nucleus of the squad have worked together in Scotland for a week; we've introduced Paul McVeigh, Stephen Hughes, Rhoys [Wiggins], Simon Whaley and Ben Alnwick today – and now Grant [Holt]. And we've got two weeks to go before the first game of the season.
“So there's an opportunity for those guys to integrate into the squad; to gel with the rest of the lads – I think we've taken over every room in the Holiday Inn next door,” he added, in itself a sign of some straitened times if the wing reserved for Roeder's Premiership loans is now deemed out of the club's price range.
“So I'm sure they'll get to know eachother very well. I'm just delighted that with the backing of the board we've been able to bring all these players to the club.”
And all on full-time deals too. That was one vow that Gunn made to all concerned at the end of last season. And, however, events now pan out, he has been true to his word on that score – that he will put players committed to the jersey first.
“It's something that I did say at the end of the season at the fans' forum that if I was to be given the job, I'd be wanting players coming here that were committed to the club.
“And the only loan signing that we've done so far is Ben Alnwick; the rest of the players have come in and show the commitment that we want to play for Norwich City.”
And was that it now? Job done?
“Never say never,” he said. “Never say: 'That's it!'
“The chief executive is cringing in the back; spluttering on his coffee. But we'll always look; always keep looking. But we've been very happy and delighted that we've been able to get these ten players in.”
'Is there a deal still on the table for Goran Maric?', was the final question this evening. It appears that Gunn still has room for No11; particularly now that the Clingan transfer has finally been concluded.
He is, at last, a Coventry City player; Norwich are – reportedly – ?650,000 the richer for the exit of their Northern Ireland international who agreed a three-year deal at The Ricoh this evening.
“Yes,” was the answer to the Maric enquiry.
“But we'll just have to wait and see. We're in the hands of Goran and his representatives and whatever they decide to do – and we'll probably find out later today.”
If the Serb has offers elsewhere, the City chief would go with what he's now got.
“Yes – I would do,” he said. “But it might not be…”
He could, in short, still have another last trick up his sleeve.
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