With little to report in terms of Carrow Road incoming traffic, the nationals have turned their attention to those who, in their opinion at least, are likely to depart the fine city.
Elliott Bennett, if we are to believe yesterday’s Daily Mail, is currently in the sights of Paul Lambert; four new signings clearly insufficient for City’s ex-boss as he continues his summer tradition of getting transfer business finalised early in the window.
Only time will tell if this particular rumour has substance but there is no doubting Lambert is a Bennett admirer; his previous pursuit of the ex-Brighton man lasting several months and two transfer windows before he finally prised him away from the Seagulls.
While Bennett’s game-time in 2012-13 was less than I am sure he would have liked – Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass being Chris Hughton’s two generally preferred wide-men – he did play a valuable role in the ultimately successful run-in. He is also a possessor of that rare commodity called genuine pace – a priceless Premier League quality and one that is not currently in plentiful supply at Carrow Road.
Amongst the brickbats fired at Hughton during those bleak winter months was an underlying concern around the team’s deficiency in that particular department – the ability to turn defence into attack in an instant a crucial part of any top-tier armoury.
On that basis alone it would be a disappointment to see Bennett depart, particularly if it were for a reported fee of around £2.5million; even more so if, amongst the five to eight new signings (David McNally’s words, not mine), there is not a ‘flyer’ or two.
While it goes against the grain to agree with Alan Hansen, his incessant assertion that ‘nothing frightens defenders like pace’ is indeed true; Gabriel Agbonlahor’s match-winning performance at Carrow Road back in early-May a perfect example.
In addition to lacking a Huckerby-like speed merchant last season, City were also often guilty of shifting the ball too slowly; their ponderous build-up affording opposing back-fours ample time to get ‘their shape’, even when under pressure. The smart money says that Hughton’s summer shopping list will include personnel who can help rectify both… at least let’s hope so.
If we are to believe all we read, Bennett is not alone in being on Lambert’s wish-list – six more of his current team-mates having also been linked with a move to the far end of the A14.
In no particular order: John Ruddy, Ryan Bennett, Russell Martin, Anthony Pilkington, Robert Snodgrass and Grant Holt are all reportedly wanted at Villa Park – the reality probably being those ‘in the know’ are actually nothing of the sort.
The Grant Holt story (2013 version) took an interesting twist today, the Sunday Mirror reporting that Crystal Palace are lining up a £2million bid with a view to signing him as ‘cover’ for Glenn Murray. With no direct source being quoted (it would be interesting to get James Nursey’s take on this one) it is hard to envisage the big man playing second fiddle to someone who has yet to kick a ball at the top level.
Crystal Palace may want him – who wouldn’t – but whether they get him looks some way off, at least for now. To compete for a lone striker role with Ricky van Wolfswinkel is one thing, but to lose out in a similar battle with said Master Murray is quite another.
The Canary nation has long been aware that Holty is a proud man; Ian Holloway would be well advised to remember that.
Of those who have already departed Colney, Elliott Ward and Marc Tierney have both – in the last week – secured themselves moves to the Championship; Bournemouth and Bolton their respective destinations.
Interestingly, while Ward was content to drift off to the south coast minus a fanfare and with the minimum of fuss, Tierney chose to use his Reebok introduction to have the slyest of digs at his former boss. Never one to contain his feelings – he once famously announced he’d ‘never play for Norwich’ – he confirmed that he and Hughton ‘did not see eye to eye football-wise’; presumably a footballing euphemism for ‘he hardly ever picked me’.
In truth, Tierney, more than anyone, epitomised the gung-ho approach of the Lambert years and his cavalier style was always going to conflict with the more pragmatic wishes of the new management team. Throw into the mix a Craven Cottage nightmare on opening day and his card was marked very early on, with Javier Garrido undertaking the same role in a more neat, controlled and understated way.
That Tierney chose to have the final word says more about the man himself than any failings on Hughton’s part.
So… with just eight days left before the transfer window formally opens the Carrow Road press conferences are yet to kick in. No doubt behind the scenes David McNally has been working feverishly, and haranguing CEOs galore in the process, but for now patience remains the key word.
If McNally is indeed true to his word, and there are to be in excess of five new names for us to pronounce, then we can yet expect a similar number of departures.
Just don’t expect Palace or Villa to be the beneficiaries.