MyFootballWriter columnist Mick Dennis tonight confirmed what most of a City persuasion had long feared – that Paul Lambert would, indeed, return for the mercurial services of Wes Hoolahan.
Writing for his day job with the Daily Express, Mick revealed that the Canaries had rejected a ‘derisory’ £750,000 bid for the 31-year-old Dubliner. A figure that, alternatively, could rise to £1 million if payment were in instalments.
The piece also stressed that should Hoolahan himself seek to speed up his own exit by slapping in a transfer request, that too would be rejected.
‘Privately, Norwich insiders regard the Hoolahan bid as almost insulting and have no wish to do business with either Lambert or Villa because of bad blood over the way the Scot manager left them after lifting them 54 places in three seasons,’ Mick wrote.
‘Hoolahan would welcome the chance to join Villa, because they are offering a longer deal than his current Norwich contract, which has 18 months to run.’
Norwich, you sensed, were determined to be seen to be drawing a very firm line in the sand with regard to the future whereabouts of their much-loved playmaker who, in that little hole off three-time Player of the Season Grant Holt, came to embody much about those three seasons on the up, up, up under Lambert.
The fact that he was a ‘player’, who liked nothing better than to have the ball at his feet, has long endeared him to City supporters; he sees a pass few others do. Something Chris Hughton himself admitted as Hoolahan rolled back the years in the opening hour against Manchester United recently.
Given time and space, he can unlock the meanest of defences. It is how much time and space the English Premier League ever grants someone of his athletic stature that is the age-old dilemma for managers – be they old or new.
Tonight’s revelations will also only serve to stir a previously poisonous pot between the two clubs that harks back to Lambert’s difficult and acrimonious exit from Carrow Road for the Midlands after three, extraordinary seasons at the
helm. One that could be stirred again as that transfer tribunal sits to decide a fee for England Youth keeper Steer.
Accusations came thick and fast as Lambert packed his bags for pastures new that bitter summer; City will be all too aware of the potential repercussions among the supporters if one of the club’s more prized ‘entertainers’ is allowed to follow Lambert up the A14 and help lift spirits among the Villa faithful after a turgid and all-too often goalless run of games at Villa Park capped by the 1-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace.
The 2-1 home defeat by Sheffield United in this weekend’s FA Cup third round tie hardly helped the mood. Hence, in part, Lambert’s desire to put a smile back on the face of the natives with the Dubliner’s dancing feet.
It is the effect it will have on the Norfolk natives – should Hoolahan exit – that will be taxing the minds of the Canary board tonight.
Though that will be far from the only consideration.
With 18 months left on his City contract, now might be the time to cash in.
More importantly still will be Hoolahan’s own attitude towards the quickening transfer talk.
He will be all-too well aware that in every likelihood a longer and more lucrative deal awaits at Villa.
And at 31, this might be the last time such an offer will be made.
And, equally, he knows Lambert from way back when – from their days at Livingston together when both were just cutting their teeth in terms of their respective playing and managerial careers.
There is history between the two. And that may well play its part.
More history than Hoolahan enjoys with current City boss Chris Hughton, who has used him sparingly this season as he tries to make the attacking chemistry work between his big money summer arrivals – Gary Hooper, Ricky van Wolfswinkel,
Nathan Redmond and Johan Elmander.
Hughton may yet have his sights on a further, fresh attacking face in this transfer window – something, or someone, to sweeten the pill of a potential Hoolahan exit.
Because the story is unlikely to end with tonight’s public rejection.
More likely it is just the first shot in an ever-more protracted transfer saga that – should the player and his agent start to make waves to go – will run and run till the eleventh hour.
Certainly City chief executive David McNally won’t be in any hurry to do Lambert any favours. Club chairman Alan Bowkett can be equally strong-willed in the face of any devious manoeuvres from the wily Scot.
This is but the start…
If they can get the right fee…let him go.
Hoolahan is a talented ball player but, as mentioned in a recent article, lacks the physical presence to really compliment that ability at Premier League Level.
He has been a great servant to the club and should leave with the knowledge that NCFC fans appreciate everything he has done…but he is not the player around which to build a team to progress in the EPL – IMHO.
GJ your right but let him go in the Summer not now… You wouldn’t get a top 4 team selling to one of their rivals now so why should we sell to one of our relegation rivals. We owe Villa nothing and we need all the help we can get in our bid to stay up
Given the eye watering amounts of money on offer in the Premier League, I am astonished to still hear language like ‘cashing in with just 18 months to go on his contract’ – as if we were still in the Championship trying to scrape around for whatever funds we can. The sums being bandied about – £750,000, £1m and £1.5m – are chicken feed. We don’t need that money. The issue is whether we want to strengthen the squad of a relegation rival as much as selling a player to our ex-manager, and I am confident the Board will resist this – as was the case when Holt wanted to leave in January last year.
And whilst Lambert’s bid for Wes has caused the (possibly desired) consternation in Norfolk, I doubt very much this potential transfer will do that much to boost his current standing on the Holte End. As one Villa fan put it to me: ‘We need more than one of your bit part players to get us out of the mess we’re in’.
Whilst I totally understand the stance Norwich are taking with regards to PL, But surely business should come before feelings.
Hoolahan is a reasonable player but not a premiership star, he doesn’t belong to a top 4 club, with current position in the premiership he belongs to a bottom 6 club, I have always loved the way Norwich have tried to play football but in reality if something is not done about their playing staff then the reality could be relegation.
What is the point of holding onto a 31 year old player!!! who obviously wants to leave, you have a club interested in taking him off your hands. to me it makes absolute common sense to let him depart, forget the bad feeling between PL and Norwich. Make a statement, how much you want for him! but please do not let personal feelings interrupt with good business, personally I feel that Hoolahan is worth 2 mil when taking into account, his age, his contract and his desire to leave, Lets also make the point that Hughton does not really rate him otherwise he would be playing week out week in, so really 2 million is bloody good business for Norwich, it does not matter who you do business with, my personal view is Norwich would be mad to refuse such an offer if it came along.
Just to let you know, I am a Villa fan, but I also try and be fair in my views to other clubs, In all honesty I do not think Hoolahan is the player Villa need, so I do hope this deal does not go through, my view if you took time to look on Villa fans websites is in line with the general consensus and that is as fans we do not want Hoolahan.
I sincerely hope Norwich survive this season, I believe in their ethos of being a family friendly club who try and play attractive football.
But always remember, Good Business should always override personal views, so if a 2 million offer came in from any club including Villa then i would snap their hands off, afterall money in the club is better than a player in the reserves biding his time getting paid good money and not committed to Norwich.
Personally its a no brainer.
I agree with Mark