With the Canaries taking a brief pause for breath in the midst of their summer recruitment drive, interest has focussed elsewhere this week – not least on the arrival of a new manager at the helm of Chelsea.
Andre Villas-Boas will be awaiting the newly-promoted Norfolk side in Game 3 of City’s Premier League campaign.
At 33, the Boy Wonder of the European Managerial ‘scene’ becomes the youngest manager to ply his trade in the top flight of English football and – for once – doesn’t actually hail from a suburb of Glasgow.
He has clearly long been marked out for greatness having spent three years in West London as part of Jose Mourinho’s back-room staff. That he would be going places was, likewise, not lost on those that matter at Porto.
In order to get their man, Chelsea had to enact the €15 million ‘release clause’ in his contract – a reported £13.3 million.
And that’s before anyone started to talk about the personal terms of his three-year contract at the Bridge – one that, according to Sky Sports – is worth £4.5 million a year to the new man at the helm.
So that’s £13 million to get their man; another £13 million to pay him over three years. Together, that amounts to a £26 million investment to bag one of the highest-rated young managers in European football.
No pressure then, Andre…
Clearly, we’re talking Chelsea. We’re talking about bottomless pits of Russian money. Numbers are just numbers. Roman is more interested in the small bauble that is the Champions League than the cash it actually takes to deliver that prize to the Kings Road.
But what it does demonstrate – and this is where it ought to be of interest to clubs in this neck of the woods – is the ‘value’ other clubs now place on decent managers.
To all intents and purposes, that €15 million ‘release clause’ in his Porto contract was a transfer fee slapped on his head by those in charge. Pinto da Costa, the President of Porto, has suddenly opened up a whole new market-place – in managerial transfer fees.
Hit that bar, then you’re free to talk to him… But we’re quids in.
And now have the cash to pull in another bright, young thing manager-wise.
And, maybe, a new player to boot. Or else, we have the cash in hand to cushion any run on the Portuguese banks if the EuroZone economy goes down the toilet in the near future.
Because managers are becoming the star turns; the prized assets. In a manner in which they have never really been before.
And you can see why. Given the precipice that lies just over the horizon relegation-wise and the tiny margins – bar Barcelona and Messi – that accompany success and failure in the Champions League, then you can see why owners, in particular, place such faith in the man at the helm.
You can pay £35 million for A N Other Ivory Coast striker these days; but who is the man that gets the lad to play on a Saturday afternoon? The Gaffer.
He’s the one that keeps the player’s eye on the ball and not the nearest model, car, yacht, pad, etc, etc.
The manager is the ring-master; the man to bring the show to life; to ensure that the owner’s latest fortune isn’t wholly wasted on a player of ill-repute.
Get it wrong – badly wrong – and Uncle Avram will take you into The Championship.
Which is all very interesting when – in every likelihood – you are in the lucky position of being managed by one of the hottest managerial properties in English football.
And given the fact that Paul Lambert’s coaching badges were earned in Germany and he has a Champions League winners medal up his sleeve, makes Lambert a marked man on the European stage too.
The guy is talent. Clearly.
A talent that has made not one, single piece of noise about wishing to take his managerial career elsewhere.
Who has been as good as gold PR-wise; who has clearly bought – hook, line and sinker – into the whole ‘Norfolk Nation’ notion.
But, right now, I would have him down as the most valuable asset at Norwich City Football Club.
And if Porto could slap a £13.3 million ‘release clause’ on the head of Villas-Boas on the basis of being young, gifted and the winner on three fronts last season – league, cup and Europa Cup – what does back-to-back promotions on the minimum of spending and the maximum of team-building make Lambert’s ‘worth’?
Ideally, of course, such thoughts are merely the product of idle times transfer-wise.
And having signed his new deal at the start of the summer, surely that has put all the speculation to bed? After all, Big Sam is in at West Ham, Chrissy Hughton is in at Blues – the managerial merry-go-round spins on apace without Lambert’s name being mentioned again.
And, as I say, long may that continue.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that, managerially, he looks like gold dust. And, as Villas-Boas has just proved, that has a value.
A worth that could yet soar again should Lambert take to the Premiership like the proverbial duck to water.
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