I strongly suspect that if you asked a goodly percentage of Canary supporters just what they would like Santa to slip into their sack this Christmas then a striker in the mould of Aaron Wilbraham might have topped their list.
Just in case…
Just in case, that is, City skipper Grant Holt disappeared through injury between now and the end of May.
At 6ft 3in tall and 31-years-old, Wilbraham – with the best will in the world – is not ‘one for the future…’ – not in the sense that a Connor Wickham would be billed as ‘one for the future…’ should his much-mooted switch from Ipswich to the Premiership (aka Spurs) come to pass next month.
Wilbraham – signed on an 18-month deal – is here to do a job. A ‘just in case…’ job that could yet prove vital to City’s hopes of building on their excellent start to the season and pushing on again for that play-off finishing line.
It would be kind of odd to see the Canaries start a fixture with a Holt-Wilbraham front two; it doesn’t quite ring right, somehow.
The two are hewn of similar stuff; are designed to do a similar job; a Chrissy Martin or a Simeon Jackson then adds a different kind of cutting edge to the Canaries.
Which is what City boss Paul Lambert was clearly hinting at as he welcomed the MK Dons frontman to the Colney fold overnight.
“He is a very experienced player and I am delighted to bring someone of his mould to the football club,” the Canary chief told the club’s official website, with Wilbraham’s initial loan status ensuring he can at least find himself a place on the bench for tomorrow’s mouth-watering clash with league leaders QPR.
“I have liked the look of him every time I saw him play – and he scored against us last season.
“He will play alongside our other strikers here and I’m sure he will be able to pass on his experience to them as well.”
In dressing room parlance, the sense is that Lambert has brought “a decent lad” into the fold; one who has done the rounds – at Championship and below and is not about to rock Lambert’s carefully-cultivated apple cart in the manner that, say, a David Bentley might.
He is not walking into that dressing room with any airs or Premiership graces; all, probably, recognise that he is in to do a job – to put a second, hefty shoulder to that play-off wheel as the Canaries make sure they won’t be caught short striker-wise this spring.
Of course, Lambert can’t cover every eventuality; he can’t always legislate for a Leon Barnett moment as red mist follows a red card – or Elliott Ward disappearing for “a few weeks” with a calf injury.
But if he can cover most bases for most of the time, then City ought to be able to muster enough bodies to keep the bandwagon on the roll.
Hence his delight to have the luckless Zak Whitbread back at his disposal following his lengthy spell on the sidelines this season; ditto, Adam Drury’s re-appearance on the bench for the Blades game.
These are big, solid individuals on whom successful play-off campaigns can rest – see above, re Wilbraham.
And this is what is starting to really impress with regards to Lambert’s player recruitment policies – he appears to (a) react to events before they happen and (b) do the sane and the sensible. Not to mention the financially prudent.
I can’t for the life of me imagine that Wilbraham’s recruitment this week involved the kind of tortuous agent negotiations that would have accompanied the signature of a Marc Libbra or the arrival of an Arturo Lupoli.
I likewise suspect that if you asked Lambert today, he would still insist that Wilbraham’s arrival is merely designed to see the Canaries over the finishing line – a ‘finishing line’ that, for now, still constitutes no more than that 50-point safety mark. That the Canaries are not being returned to sender on their return to the second flight of English football.
Of course, privately, Lambert will be glancing upwards; he is only human, after all.
If we keep to that 400-metre race image, then to be sat firmly on the shoulders of that second, automatic promotion spot as the final bend starts to unreel is the perfect place to be.
Particularly when you have 25,000 ‘vibrant’ supporters adding that extra spring to your step.
Given this is football; given this is Norwich City Football Club, now is not the time to ask: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’
Everything, of course.
But – on and off the field – there would appear to be both the momentum and the thinking in place to build a decent launch platform for the second half of the season.
Wilbraham is just another piece in that jigsaw; just as flogging a car park and renegotiating the club’s long-term repayment schedules eased the pressure from the banks over the next six months.
Everything appears set fair. Now is the time to keep the fingers firmly crossed… and power on.