City boss Paul Lambert this morning revealed that he, too, had handed Santa a Christmas wish-list as the January transfer window hoves into view.
With the Canaries sat nicely in fifth place – ‘punching way above their weight…’ according to the Canary chief – the big question is how and where Lambert will look to strengthen next month.
Ever mindful of both City’s finances and the delicate chemistry that exists within his dressing room, Lambert is clearly approaching the mid-winter transfer window with his usual care and attention.
That he has a shopping list is not, however, in doubt.
Whether he’s been a good enough boy during the course of the year for Santa to grant him his every last wish is for the likes of David McNally and Delia Smith to decide. They and the banks.
“Finances are a big part of the game – and I won’t be bringing anybody here that isn’t hungry to do well,” said Lambert, speaking to the Press ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Crystal Palace.
As ever, it will be a delicate balancing act – getting the right individual in at the right price both fee and wages-wise remains the biggest trick to management.
There may well be the whole ‘If it ain’t bust, don’t try to fix it…’ argument ringing in his ears.
By the same token, however, the arrival of a fresh face can keep the existing squad firmly on their toes; it will keep everyone sharp and focussed for that final, frantic run to the finishing line – which, before anyone asks, is the 50-point mark for safety.
That remains Lambert’s No1 priority – survival. Everything thereafter is a bonus on Norwich’s first season back in the second flight of English football.
“The ones that we’ve identified – whether they come or not remains to be seen,” he revealed, his festive wish list tucked firmly up his sleeve.
“But, as I say, I won’t put the club in the position where it was a few years ago,” said Lambert, harking back to a time when the loan move was king – at the expense of both team spirit and bank balance.
“Bringing in anybody for a great night out in Norwich and then going back to where they want to go.”
Most City fans could think of at least a couple of players for whom that thought would apply; more if they put their minds to it.
Keeping the personal chemistry right in that dressing room was one of Lambert’s principal concerns as the transfer window merry-go-round loomed ever larger in people’s thinking. “
It’s vital,” he said. “The character of the footballer is vital.
“If they’ve got the winning mentality to coincide with that, then you’ve got a good player on your hands,” he added.
“And that’s what I look for. I don’t look for anybody to come in and disrupt anything – or come in and think that they’re bigger than the group that’s already there.
“Whoever comes in has got to earn the right first and foremost to get in the side. And I think that’s always the case when you’ve got a team that’s going well.
“You always have that scenario. The day that you stop looking over your shoulder as a footballer is the day that you become complacent. So I have to get the right type of player in.
“And the character is a big part of that – they have to be decent people.”
He wasn’t, at this stage, expecting to be saying ‘Good-bye!’ to anyone; no-one, for example, had enquired after the likes of an Owain Tudur Jones – Lambert doesn’t do fringe-stroke-frozen out players. Everyone can still have a role to play.
“I’m not expecting anyone to leave – but I’ll make the decision on that anyway,” he confirmed.
“And everybody’s part of it – if you’re here and you’re called upon, then I expect you to do your job.”
Injury and illness-wise and the picture looked to be brighter today; Andrew Crofts was back in training following his virus problems; Henri Lansbury had shrugged off a swollen ankle; Adam Drury was also back in training following his lengthy absence.
It would appear that this weekend’s trip to the Selhurst will come a little too soon for the long-serving Canary defender.
As to whether or not Leon Barnett will be available, that will have to wait on the outcome of an FA disciplinary hearing after the Canary centre-half saw both red mist and red card in the 2-0 home defeat by Portsmouth.
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