Canary boss Paul Lambert this afternoon drew a gentle line under his strike department – one, for now, marked: ‘Sorted!’ after today’s official unveiling of Steve Morison.
The 27-year-old former Millwall striker has signed a three-year deal with the newly-promoted Norfolk club and with James Vaughan already in the building, Lambert now has a wealth of striking options at his disposal.
Club skipper Grant Holt and Canadian international Simeon Jackson finished the season as the men in possession.
This summer, everyone starts again from ‘a level playing field’ as Lambert turns his attention to the back two-thirds of his team.
“At this minute in time, the striking department is really strong,” said the Canary chief, as Morison went through the traditional shirt-holding, signing-in ceremony up at the club’s training HQ at Colney.
“But there’s other areas that we’ve identified and, hopefully, we’ll get them as well,” said Lambert, with a clutch of midfield names now littering the gossip columns. As ever, the Canary boss wasn’t adding anything to the current rounds of speculation – be it this one from Brighton. Or that one from Leeds.
Other than to say that, yes, for now his quest for new firepower striker-wise was over.
The City chief was also swift to make it clear that previous reputations will count for little. Everyone starts again from scratch.
“It’s a level playing field for everybody,” he said. “What happened in League One has gone; what happened in The Championship has gone. You’ve got to come back – and you’ve got to be ready to stake a claim for your place.
“But it’s a level playing field for everybody. There’s no guarantees for anybody.”
Morison had long caught Lambert’s eye; his career path following the Canaries out of League One and then onto the play-off reaches of the Championship. Not bad for a player fresh out of non-league.
“We’ve seen him play for a few years and I think he’s done brilliantly at Millwall,” said the City chief this afternoon, the ink now dry on his second major piece of business of the summer.
“I thought he was a handful every time we played against him, so he’ll come in and add to what we’ve already got.
“But we’re going to need everybody – there’s no doubt about that. And he will add to it.”
Lambert had few fears on the stepping up front. Morison’s recent international experience with Wales, coupled to the level of expectation that comes with playing in front of the Millwall faithful week in, week out leaves him well-armed for the big atmospheres to come.
“Mentality-wise, I’ve got no problem,” said Lambert. “It’s up to him now to force his way in, but once he’s here, he will love being here.”
Like so many of his new team-mates, Morison hasn’t had it easy. Released by Northampton Town as a youngster, he has had to pick himself up and go again – just like a Holt, a Russell Martin, a David Fox and an Andrew Crofts.
It is a trait Lambert admires in players – not taking ‘No!’ for an answer.
“I think it speaks volumes for the way that they are as people,” said the Scot.
“If you can bounce back from having those kind of knocks and go again then it’s great for them as an individual. That they can bounce back from being hurt.
“He knows the rough side of football – and he also knows the good side of it. And I have no problem with him being big-headed or anything like that.”
The Canary boss is also well aware that Premiership transfer campaigns are something of a balancing act. That without the luxury of the ‘emergency’ loan market as enjoyed by the Football League, his window of opportunity recruitment-wise is limited to this summer and January.
He needs to keep some of his powder dry for the ‘Just in case…’ market that opens – briefly – in the New Year.
He also has just 25 places to play with. Inevitably, fringe players will be surplus to requirements. Steven Smith’s switch to Aberdeen, for example, looks ever more likely.
“There has to be that contingency plan [for January],” he admitted. “You can’t throw all your eggs in one basket and then, come January, you can’t do anything. So there is that in the back of my mind. I know that.
“But the money that we’ve spent now is fine – really, really fine,” he insisted.
“And the beauty for me is that the lads that we’ve identified I’ve seen playing myself, so I know exactly what they’re like. And it’s not as if we’re buying people for £10 million or anything like that.
“These are lads that – in my own opinion – will do fine for us. But I also know that there is a balancing act for January time.”