Just shows how much I know…
Less than 24 hours after expressing my relief at never again having to write the words ‘Gary Hooper’ and ‘Norwich’ in the same sentence David McNally looks to have finally sealed the deal.
Almost at least.
The Daily Record, who know a thing or two about Celtic, understand that Hooper has agreed terms; City and Celtic finally having agreed a fee, rumoured to be £5.2million. In doing so, the former Scunthorpe man has snubbed a move to QPR which, according to Harry Redknapp, was all but in the bag.
How about that for a double-whammy.
The Record went on to report that Hooper was due in the fine city today with a view to having his medical and tying up any loose ends before being unveiled tomorrow; Sky Sports News now reporting that the medical has now been completed successfully.
Given the protracted nature of this saga no-one would have been the slightest bit surprised if there had been a last minute hitch or two, but in the spirit of the Canadian Mounty, McNally and Hughton look to have got their man.
All a little ironic given that many of us had virtually written this one off as a ‘bad job’ and were preparing to shift our attentions on to the next one.
With the story breaking at around 9:30 on Thursday morning – typically it was a ‘Sky Sports understands…’ moment – the social media world went into overdrive with rumour and counter-rumour; QPR fans, in particular, incredulous that anyone would choose Norwich ahead of the Championship laden delights on offer in Shepherd’s Bush.
Even Manchester City fans felt the need to offer their two-penneth; the question being asked: ‘Where did Norwich get their money from?’
Oh the irony.
Many Celtic fans – from whom I’ve had both barrels for my thoughts on the Hooper saga – were left questioning why their former striker would wish to take ‘a step down’ to play for Norwich.
Without wishing to rake over old coals, Celtic is indeed a massive club and can offer him a few rounds of Champions league football, but their ‘bread and butter’ – through no fault of their own – doesn’t compare favourably with the English equivalent.
That, one assumes, is why Hooper appears keen to resist the overtures of ‘Arry and is also why he wants to try his luck south of the border. While none of the big boys were likely to take that chance – Spurs were rumoured to be hovering back in January – Norwich likely appeared a decent fit; hence the successful medical and pending announcement.
The inference from some that because we’re ‘only Norwich’ we’re precluded from showing even the slightest hint of ambition is becoming a little tiresome.
Since the revolution of 2009 – the result of the darkest of days – the club has been managed, from top to bottom, in a super- efficient, even ruthless (for all the right reasons), fashion. And now we’re reaping the benefits.
No Sheikh Mansour – or Peter Cullum (!) – needed; just shrewd financial management and as my colleague Ed Couzens-Lake puts it: “… living within your means”.
Throw into the mix a little bit of luck – there’s no better time to be beneficiaries of an improved TV deal than when NBC come on board – and you give yourself the ability to attract the van Wolfswinkels, Fers and Hoopers of this world.
So… with that off my chest, it now looks likely that McNally’s summer’s work is up to seven new faces and counting; Hooper – if/when it gets finalised – likely to show the instinct of a ‘poacher’ in and around the box.
Certainly those ‘in the know’ north of the border share the general feeling that Hooper is capable of scoring Premier League goals. Following an interview with BBC Scotland’s Chris McLaughlin, BBC Radio Norfolk’s Rob Butler tweeted: Spoke to @BBCchrismclaug and he says Hooper is very keen on signing for #ncfc and he will “pop up and score goals when you most need him”.
All very promising, and certainly gives the sceptics reason enough to believe in Hooper’s ability to buck the trend of SPL goalscorers who failed to cut the mustard in the English version.
Not for the first time this summer, City’s CEO has again pulled a rabbit out of the hat. A deal that looked dead and buried beneath a massive pile of Tony Fernades’ cash has somehow been resurrected and a man that Hughton identified back in January as one who would ‘add something to the group’ (where have I heard that before?) is Norfolk bound.
These are indeed exciting times.
Remind ‘Arry never to play poker with McNally.