Chairman, chief executive and newly-installed new manager were tonight all pushing out the olive branch to want-away club skipper Grant Holt.
The 31-year-old and his talkative agent have insisted that time is ripe for a move; that while he has loved his time at the football club, ‘disagreements’ – in particular over the addition of a third year on his existing Carrow Road contract – are pushing him reluctantly towards the exit door.
West Ham United have already declared their interest; others will follow – most painfully, of course, would be a switch to Aston Villa and a reunion with ex-City boss Paul Lambert.
But his immediate successor Chris Hughton was today insistent that he would like the three-time player of the season to stay right where he was; the new Canary boss knows full well that 15-goal Premier League strikers do not grow on trees. And he’s always like a good, whole-hearted ‘Big Un’.
“We all know Grant Holt – without knowing Grant Holt,” said Hughton, leaving the inside track to his No2 Colin Calderwood, who managed the Canary hero at Nottingham Forest.
But Hughton is well aware of Holt’s work. As is every other Premier League manager. And he knows that nipping the talk of his departure in the bud remains among his early priorities.
The Canary striker has, of course, two years still to run on his current Norwich deal so is going nowhere on a free. Nor without a fight, one suspects.
“I knew him when he was scoring goals in League One and The Championship, so last season wasn’t a massive surprise for me,” said Hughton, expecting Southampton’s Ricky Lambert to carry on in a similar vein this season.
“I think you can carry on [scoring goals] and I fully expect Ricky Lambert to carry on scoring goals in the Premier League next season.
“So I’ve known of Grant for some time; and, yes, Colin [Calderwood] knows him. But I think I’ve already stated my thoughts on him – he is a player that, of course, I would love to see here.
“He is a proven goal-scorer and managed to do it again last season, but as I’ve said I haven’t really had a chance to speak with him. Or with anybody. But I will look for that opportunity.”
Speaking at the earlier, official Press conference Hughton made his admiration plain.
“He is a quality player – there is no doubt about that. He’s won Player of the Year for the last three seasons, so I am very conscious of what he means [to this football club] and absolutely – I would like him here.”
As would any incoming manager, Hughton suggested.
“I don’t think there would be any manager coming in and sitting here that wouldn’t want to keep a player of that quality. But’s it’s not just about one player – it’s about a squad of players.”
Club chairman Alan Bowkett hoped that common sense could still prevail; that fresh dialogue could break the current impasse.
“Now is an ideal opportunity,” said Bowkett, responding to the inevitable ‘About Grant Holt…’ question.
“It is a completely clean piece of paper and I think it is an opportunity for Grant and his agent to row back from a rather intractable position and have a sensible conversation with the football club.
“Our door is open. We want him to stay. We want him to play for us and I think he would really enjoy playing for Chris.”
It was a line echoed by chief executive David McNally whose attentions can now turn to resolving the Holt situation – one way or the other.
What is in no-one’s interest is for Holt’s future to dominate everyone’s thinking for the rest of the summer.
As Nigel Worthington found to his cost with the summer-long saga that was Damien Francis’ eventual exit, such situations can prove all too much of a distraction.
“Clearly there is a different view in terms of the future between Grant and the club,” admitted McNally.
“But we want Grant to stay. He’s our captain; our top goal-scorer for the last three years; player of the year three years in succession – that’s never been done before.
“Grant is under contract for the next two years and we would like him to stay. So he’s not for sale and we’re not encouraging anybody to make any offers for Grant.
“Where we’ll end up is where we’ll end up, but as Chris says we have 24 senior squad players and it is important for all of them to have a chat with the new manager about the future.”