Chris Hughton has completed his first piece of business as Norwich manager and it looks on the face of it as if he’s called on the Glasgow connections of our returning chief scout, Ewan Chester, to pull this one off.
The signing of Rangers and Scotland defender, Steven Whittaker, is not one that automatically sets the pulse racing, but we’ve been here plenty of times before over the last few seasons.
If Hughton can carry on the knack of his predecessor of turning good players into capable Premier League ones then those who’ve been quick to judge will be proved wrong yet again.
A solid, versatile defender who has played for his country over 20 times, he clearly ticks many of the boxes on the Hughton checklist – not least adding some experience to a relatively young back line now minus the know-how of ‘Hall of Famer’, Adam Drury.
Whether the new boss sees him as a good addition to the squad or a nailed-on starter will wait for another day.
While we still eagerly await an outcome to the Grant Holt saga there’s been little other news to stir the Canary faithful apart from a quartet of contract extensions… which is good isn’t it?
If nothing else it means that the alleged Aston Villa raid on our prized possessions is yet to occur – early days I grant you, but those early signs appear good.
With Hughton acting quickly to get Messrs Martin (R), Surman, Ruddy and Smith to extend their current deals – even if it may have been from the comfort of a Carribean poolside – he quickly allayed a few fears of a mass exodus.
Whilst none of these events were headline grabbing in a way that a signing of a Robert Snodgrass or a Curtis Davis would have been, they were most certainly no less significant. To be the proud owner of arguably the country’s No3 goalkeeper is no mean achievement, and to use a well-worn cliché – if anyone had told us that three seasons ago we’d have laughed at them.
With Holt choosing to use the medium of Twitter to keep us all guessing, good old Ruddy choose the same platform to remind us all that the Villa rumours were untrue and he had no desire to leave the Fine City.
To cap it all, within a couple of days the big man had signed on the dotted line and in doing so made us all love him that little bit more. And to think – a year ago some of our flock were questioning whether Ruddy was Premier League standard. Thankfully, he has answered that one in emphatic style.
Korey Smith has more than earned another year, if only to give Hughton and Co a chance to see what he’s capable of. Those of us who’ve watched his progression from the Academy know that here is a lad who is capable of mixing it with the big boys – he just needs that chance.
The contract extensions agreed with Surman and Russell Martin made logical sense for all parties.
Both have proved themselves capable of handling life in the Premier League without ever hitting the radar of any of the big boys – and in fairness both have been seen their names mentioned occasionally in the transfer gossip columns. However, usually they’ve linked to ‘middling’ top tier teams and therefore, would a move away benefit either’s career significantly?
Amongst his many qualities Martin’s ability to play in more than one position won’t have gone unnoticed by the new gaffer. Amongst that box of DVDs that Mrs Hughton must have so enjoyed over the last few weeks there’ll be several good examples of how seamlessly Martin can switch inside from right-back and slot into central defence.
There’s even an argument that some of his better performances last season came when in was playing in the centre of the defence.
Surman has also proved himself adaptable – and has appeared equally adept as part of a ‘two’ in the centre of midfield when we’ve lined up in a 4-4-2 or more frequently playing on the left hand tip of the diamond.
What he lacks in raw speed he more than makes up for with his comfort on the ball and his ability to pick a pass. The lad is Premier League quality and Hughton knows it.
On the subject of the diamond – the DVD collection will undoubtedly have confirmed the value to Norwich of one Wes Hoolahan.
The message boards and social media have been twitching this week of whispers around the future of our Wes, and whilst these may be nothing more than unsubstantiated rumours, there is no doubt a City side without him would have a very different look and feel about it.
Quite how, or where, he fits in with Hughton’s plan remains to be seen but his wizardry on the ball certainly gives us something unique and provides a touch of the unexpected – a priceless commodity for any team.
Whether Giovanni Trapattoni shares this view is questionable although after witnessing the Republic of Ireland’s hapless display at Euro 2012 one can only ask why.
So… the transfer activity has begun. Welcome to Norwich Mr Whittaker – and in terms of your compatriots, we hope you’re more of a Simon Lappin than a Steven Smith!