As I write, the official City website has just confirmed the arrival of Johan Elmander from Galatasary on a season-long.
Earlier today – in not untypical fashion – Galatasaray’s technical director, Bulent Tulun, blurted out, to Swedish daily newspaper Expressen, confirmation that a fee had been agreed with his ‘new club Norwich’.
Whether the confirmation of a fee pertains to a ‘loan fee’ or an end of season agreement for a permanent transfer will likely remain a secret for now.
With Sky Sports News earlier reporting that his medical had been successfully completed, it appeared only a matter of time before Joe Ferrari and his team dusted down the ‘press conference’ signs. Instead the official City Twitter feed caught us all by surprise with a picture of Elmander wearing the shirt and holding aloft the scarf. The press conference can wait for another day.
What it does probably signal is the end of Hughton’s summer long search for strikers; one that has seen him scour all four corners of Europe for firepower in the hope of a collective improvement the on the all-too frugal 2012/13 record of just over a goal a game (41 from 38).
For Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson, Steve Morison and Chris Martin now read Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper, Luciano Becchio and Johan Elmander.
Of course time will tell, but on paper (not grass for the moment) the options at Hughton’s disposal look to be a notch or two higher than they were a year ago. Indeed if van Wolfswinkel’s ratio of one goal for every twelve touches of the ball continues things are looking more than a little rosy…
Certainly in terms of value we’re on another plane right now but – as QPR will testify – spending big means little if the players in question under-perform
Again, time will tell.
As well as being a doppelgänger for Grant Holt, Elmander also brings to the table similar qualities; big, strong, powerful and an ability to play ‘back to goal’. Throw into the mix a good first touch, 71 full international caps and a domestic goal-scoring ratio of almost one in three and it’s easy to see why Hughton and Ewan Chester perceive Elmander as one who can help the cause.
Interestingly, while now 32 years of age, Elmander is still a first choice striker for the Swedish national side and is in fact currently consigning one Ola Toivonen (heard of him?) to a place on the bench.
Sounds like a decent bit of business to me.
Clearly there will be those who question why City would want to trade a 32 year-old ‘old-fashioned’ centre-forward for a 32 year-old ‘old-fashioned’ centre-forward, but those same souls would be well advised to recall Holty’s words when in conversation last week with BBC Radio Norfolk’s Rob Butler and Paul McVeigh.
The big man wanted out – he made that abundantly clear – and to have kept him would have meant one grumpy Cumbrian, and that would have been counter-productive for everyone… well, apart from Ipswich.
Elmander on the other hand will likely arrive with an appetite belying that normally associated with one of such experience – his time at Bolton being less productive than elsewhere on his European travels – with unfinished business at the English top table.
I may be wrong, but remain to be convinced the same could be said of the aforementioned Toivonen and Quagliarella (or Alderweireld for that matter), all of whom transmit an air of ‘you’d be lucky to have me’.
Whether David McNally has one final trick up his sleeve in the shape of a central defender will be an interesting one. Clearly there has been work ongoing to bolster the squad in that area, but with Alderweireld’s being the only name mentioned with any level of intent, the suggestion is the striking department has been the top priority.
If the focus now shifts to defensive cover, McNally has twelve days and counting to place the final piece in a very sizeable jig-saw.
If not, with eight new faces having pitched up in the fine city over the summer months, there will be few complaints – particularly with Messrs Martin and Whittaker issuing timely reminders to the boss on Saturday of their ability to cut it.
Such was the composure shown by Russell Martin in the centre of defence one begins to wonder whether a Martin/Bassong combination may yet enter the manager’s thinking; stranger things and all that…
So… with Elmander now on board, Fer available, Hooper, Snodgrass and Pilkington all edging ever closer to full fitness, all eyes will be glued to #NCFC at around 2PM on Saturday for team news.
I can’t wait.