The wonderful name of Fabio Quagliarella refuses to go away.
With the ink from David McNally’s quill pen still drying on Gary Hooper’s contract, it looks as if the attentions of City’s CEO and Chris Hughton had already switched back to Italy –or more specifically to Turin.
Despite having been sent packing by Juventus two weeks ago, Italy’s leading sports newspaper Corriere dello Sport is now reporting that City are preparing to return with a second bid for the Italian international; Juve reported to be ‘ready to consider the offer’ and the player himself tentatively suggesting he may be interested in the move.
While this one still remains only a ‘possible’ – at least until it either happens or we’re waved ‘arrivederci’ for the second time – there is clearly genuine interest from City (confirmed at Monday afternoon’s press conference) as Hughton looks to bolt on another top level striker to his current triumvirate of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper and Luciano Becchio.
If McNally does indeed have another rabbit left in his hat it will prompt a competition for the attacking positions like no other seen at Carrow Road, with – on paper at least – some mouth-watering options at Hughton’s disposal.
What it would also bring into focus would be Hughton’s ability to man-manage – his capacity to manage the squad sufficiently that those not in the starting XI remain properly motivated to play their part when called upon.
Not an easy one for sure, but one that comes with the territory when the signing of players with international experience becomes the norm. Much was made of Paul Lamberts’s skill in retaining the much fabled spirit within his squad, but this particular part of the job is infinitely easier when you have a squad of players who are just happy to be there.
Chuck a few experienced internationals into the mix and the same job suddenly becomes a whole lot trickier, especially when those same players are used to being a ‘starter’.
In the case of Quagliairella, he now appears to find himself a little way down the Juve pecking order – the arrival of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente sure to limit his starting opportunities – and so one assumes an unlikely move to ‘unfashionable’ Norwich would come with an expectation of regular first-team football.
Ditto van Wolfswinkel and Hooper, both of whom come to City with a leading goalscorer tag and off back of a season where they played in excess of 40 games.
Like I said… a tricky one, but in the cliché riddled world of the football manager, they’ll be sure to remind us that ‘these are the type of problems that managers love’.
Or perhaps I’m thinking too much.
Either way the struggle to entice those with ‘a name’ to the fine city appears to be one on which McNally thrives; the challenge a vastly different beast to the one he first undertook in those bad old days, when most were probably willing to bite his hand off at the prospect of wearing the canary yellow.
As one messageboard contributor rightly pointed out, the difficult challenge of bringing on board players who have barely heard of Norwich City is merely symptomatic of the massive strides we’ve taken.
If it means a few knock-backs along the way – Toivonen and Alderweireld the two most obvious examples – then so be it. When you’re competing against the Premier League’s elite (both on the pitch AND in the transfer market) you simply can’t win them all.
Not going to happen.
But if the alternative is courting only those who would be simply ecstatic to be here (or losing out in the transfer free-for-all to the likes of Yeovil) then it’s clear there is nowhere else to be; a few brush-backs a small price to pay if it ultimately leads to a squad that oozes a greater level of class.
So while the Italian press have made it their business to alert all and sundry that City are still hovering around Quagliarella, you can bet your bottom Euro there are several other targets on McNally’s list; most of whom are likely to be accompanied by a foreign twang.
Whether said list contains the name of a central defender or two will also remain a mystery for the time being, but with neither Sebastien Bassong nor Michael Turner yet to kick a ball in anger one suspects Hughton would be loath to kick-off with just Ryan Bennett and Daniel Ayala at his disposal; Leon Barnett being linked with a move to Derby County.
Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker are both able, of course, to fill in at centre-back – the former to great effect on occasions – but the prospect of lining up against Everton with a ‘makeshift’ defensive pairing is not a palatable one.
Or maybe I’m thinking too much… again.
All in all, this close season has been about as exciting as it can get without a ball being kicked, with a few more thrills and spills looking likely in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, all the best to those in the lower leagues with their season opener at the weekend…
On the Ball City