It would be an interesting exercise to do a dressing room poll among the Canary players and ask them at what age they thought they hit their footballing peak?
And I would guess that at least one member of said dressing room – on the eve of, in every likelihood, collecting his third successive Player of the Season award – would suggest ‘32’ for answer.
City skipper Grant Holt celebrated his 31st birthday last week and must, surely, be playing the best football of his professional life.
And, no doubt, would suggest that there’s plenty more to come next year – now that he’s found his feet in the English Premier League.
Which is interesting.
Not because we are about to launch into another ‘Grant Holt really should be playing for England…’ piece.
Rather because it means that the likes of Anthony Pilkington, Elliott Bennett, Ryan Bennett and Jonny Howson have at least eight great years of football to look forward to – years in which they will only improve as professional footballers.
Which is quite a thought given their level of achievement this season.
OK, it might be a mite early to judge on the newly-arrived pair of Howson and Bennett (R), but the signs are all there; that both could be big players for Norwich City Football Club; that both will feature prominently among the Class of 2012-2013.
The relative young age of this Canary squad is, for me, something that should not be under-estimated as City look to really establish themselves as a top flight team three years ahead of schedule with regard to Paul Lambert’s much-loved ‘seven-year plan’.
That same seven-year plan, of course, includes building a new Geoffrey Watling City Stand to increase the capacity of Carrow Road to 35,000; further under-pinning the financial resources of the football club.
But – as events of the weekend proved – there will be a limit to what even Paul Lambert and 35,000-seater Carrow Road can achieve.
There will, I suspect, never come a day when a player in a Canary shirt will command the reported £175,000 a week that a Yaya Toure enjoys.
There will, inevitably, be a ‘glass ceiling’ for as long as Middle Eastern oil bank-rolls the blue half of Manchester.
But increasing the capacity at Carrow Road is not the only significant revenue stream open to all concerned.
Another is selling players.
Because, for me, the arrival of Messrs Howson and Bennett (R) is part of that process; that as players of – potentially – a higher calibre than, ooooh, an Ian Murray arrive at Carrow Road, so the wheels and deals that are the life blood of a club of Norwich’s ilk start to add more noughts to them.
Particularly when in the case of the English Premier League, you have a cap on both the number of players in a squad and, of course, their footballing ‘nationality’.
It wouldn’t be rocket science to suggest that the board are already sitting on a list of Lambert’s ‘Most Wanted’ this summer and if ‘X’ number of players arrive, so ‘Y’ numbers of players will leave. That’s the simple math; though, in part, that can be achieved through not offering A, B and C a new deal.
So there’s no guarantee of that initial transfer investment being returned with a profit. But it is the very nature of the football beast to suggest that one or two will go; that both player and club will be made offers that they can’t refuse.
You don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to appreciate that football is a meat market; everyone has a price; every agent has a slice. And neither chairman nor chief executive rose to where they are today without an eye for a deal. If the numbers talk, people walk. That’s the reality.
The other reality is just what difference the next four games can make to those same coffers when – on last year’s figures – there’s £756,000 in Premier League prize money at stake per place.
So Fulham finished ninth and pocketed £47.4 million; Bolton finished 14th and had to settle for a mere £42.8 million.
The point being that – on previous form – who or what could Lambert buy if he scooped an extra £4.9 million by finishing this season ninth and not 14th?
What is equally interesting is what the board budgeted for; presumeably, one set of numbers would have revolved around a 17th place finish and the £40.6 million that Wolves trousered. Given both management team and players might have a positional ‘bonus’ factored into the sums, there is still an extra £7 million to play with if you finish ninth and not 17th.
It is fascinating stuff. But the bottom line is simple; right now from whichever way you view it, the numbers don’t half swiftly stack up in the land of milk and honey.