New Canary boss Chris Hughton promised to bide his time building his squad for the start of the 2012-13 Premier League season – before handing Russell Martin a new, three-year deal within 48 hours of his appointment.
In fairness, the process of offering a new contract for the 26-year-old Scottish international would have begun under former boss Paul Lambert, but the very fact that Hughton was happy to rubber-stamp the new deal suggests that City’s new chief is already well-versed in the quality of player – and individual – that awaits him at Colney.
And with Martin himself only too happy to confirm his long-term commitment to the Canary cause, so it was probably one of the easiest pieces of business Hughton will oversee this summer.
Players that can play with such adeptness at both right-back and centre-half are worth their weight in gold given the squad restrictions at work in the top flight. Hughton will not have had to sit through too many 2011-2012 DVDs to be aware of Martin’s strengths.
On and off the field, he is one of those characters that you can build a dressing room around.
“Having just been appointed as manager, I’m delighted that one of my first actions is to offer Russ [Martin] this new, three-year deal,” said Hughton, fresh from signing a three-year deal of his own.
“He’s had a fantastic couple of seasons here since joining in 2010 and this new deal shows what he’s done for the club over that time.”
The former Peterborough skipper was equally delighted to put pen to paper. He could yet be one that follows in the foot-steps of another Posh old boy, Adam Drury, and proves that loyalty can still have a place in the modern game.
“The last three years have been brilliant and, hopefully, the next three can be just as good,” the popular City defender told the club’s official website over the weekend.
It clearly wasn’t a hard sell to get Martin to put pen to paper.
“As soon as the club spoke about it, it didn’t take long to get it sorted because I’m so happy here personally,” he added.
Speaking immediately after his appointment on Thursday, Hughton insisted that he wouldn’t be rushing into the transfer market. He knows full well the quality of the squad that he has inherited and that given its relatively young average age, it is a squad that is only going to get better with the right coaching input.
“It’s a young squad and what comes with that young squad is what you would expect – which is bundles of enthusiasm,” said Hughton, who will head off on his summer break weighed down with DVDs to ponder and analyse.
Given the football man that he is, you strongly suspect he will already know what the likes of the Bennetts (Elliott and Ryan), the Howsons, the Pilkingtons and the Ruddys bring to the table.
“They have a wonderful work ethic and I think that if I look at the team, there are a lot of players that have come up from The Championship and they are young and hungry players – and that’s a nice recipe to have.
“And when it’s quite obvious that you have players pulling in the right direction over the last few seasons, then it is no surprise what you can achieve.”
The knowledge that he wasn’t walking into a dressing room that was on its knees, rather one that was still on an upward trajectory will only have added to the club’s allure when McNally and Co came a-calling.
“I will have my own thoughts on areas that you feel that you need to strengthen, but its also about learning about the squad,” said Hughton, who already knows more than enough about Grant Holt to clearly signal his intentions in that direction.
He will also have decisions to make with regard to veteran full-back Adam Drury, playmaker David Fox and centre-half Elliott Ward; Chrissy Martin is back from a lengthy loan spell at Crystal Palace, as is Tom Adeyemi from Oldham. All will now enjoy a fresh opportunity to win either new deals or more prominent roles in the new manager’s thinking.
“You can be surprised – it’s a different voice and a different look that’s coming in,” said Hughton. “But I know what they have achieved over the last few seasons and I know the strengths that they have.
“But it will be my job over a period of time to assess what I’ve got and where we need to strengthen the squad. But, I stress, that’s something that has to be done over a period of time.”
Or rather the better part of a day when it comes to individuals like Russell Martin.
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