U’s boss John Ward today insisted that the Essex club had driven a hard bargain for left-back Marc Tierney as he became the latest star turn to leave The Weston Homes Community Stadium for a new life up the A140.
Tierney, 25, duly completed the final pieces of paperwork required to confirm his switch to the Canaries today – agreeing a two-and-a-half year deal with his former Us boss, Paul Lambert.
The City chief has already signed Tierney once – bringing him in from Shrewsbury Town in 2008.
The Players’ Player of the Year last season, the tough-tackling full-back was out of contract this summer and, at 25, could have walked for nothing having already rejected an offer of a new contract from the U’s.
At which point they had little choice but to try and cash in on the player; get something for the final six months of his contract.
With ‘undisclosed fee’ being the cover-all term for nigh-on every Canary signing of late, Ward insisted that they had got a ‘good deal’ for him – one unlikely to match the £600,000 Lambert’s signature eventually cost the Norfolk club as that ‘deal’ took the better part of a season to finally sort.
“We have got a good deal for him though that suits our football club,” Ward told The East Anglian Daily Times, before going off to scour the transfer market for a left-back on loan.
As ever with the Bosman Ruling, the club had little or no choice but to do a deal once Tierney had decided to reject Colchester’s offer. All of which, you suspect, would have been known to Lambert.
“We knew Marc would have been out-of-contract and those things you have to deal with. We’ve stood our ground a little bit and made sure we’ve got a deal we’re comfortable with,” said Ward.
The player has missed their last three games with a dead leg and a virus; with veteran City defender Adam Drury back to full fitness, Tierney might have to bide his time before making his first Norwich start – Drury likely to be given the nod for this weekend’s mouth-watering home clash with second-placed Cardiff City.
With Drury, Wes Hoolahan and Simon Lappin having all agreed new City deals of late, Lambert’s left-sided department looks sorted for the forseeable future.
Ward could understand the attraction – even if it is likely to prove yet another bitter pill for Us fans to swallow after midfielder David Fox followed Lambert up the road this summer.
“We’ve not had Marc’s services for a little while so it’s been disappointing he’s not been able to go out on a bit of a bang for us, but he’s moving to a Championship club that’s got realistic ambitions of moving up another level as well so it’s a good move to him,” admitted Ward.
“We made Marc an offer, he turned it down and Norwich came in. It was just done as normal football business.”
City were, it seems, getting a decent player. As one would suspect, given this is the second time that Lambert has signed him.
“I think Marc is one of the best players in this division in that position, he’s a very good left-back and that’s obviously been recognised,” said Ward.
Whether that will be that for the January window remains to be seen, however.
The City chief clearly hopes to have every base covered at least twice as the business end of the season looms large – kicking off with this weekend’s corker against Cardiff.
Whether Craig Bellamy makes a welcome return to a club that still figures large in his affections remains to be seen after the Bluebirds’ preparation for this weekend’s big game proved less than plain sailing – not least thanks to an ‘incident’ involving the ex-Canary favourite in the early hours of last Sunday morning.
It was all classic, small city tabloid-fare after two men, aged 20 and 26, sustained facial injuries.
Bellamy, 31, was arrested and was subsequently released on bail. Cue the standard issue statements from local Police and football club alike.
A South Wales Police statement said: “A 31-year-old man has today been arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed pending further enquiries.”
A Cardiff City Football Club spokesman said, “We are aware of the reported incident involving one of our players last weekend and feel it would be inappropriate to comment while an ongoing police investigation is underway.”