Bob Dylan called it right. The times they are indeed a-changin.
This time last summer City had already snaffled one of European football’s bright young things (ahem…) and were hot on the heels of a host of others, including the likes of Toivonen, Alderweireld and Fer.
The names of Redmond and Hooper were also doing the rounds and life seemed good. So good in fact that by early July the biggest motormouth on radio – talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham – was describing our activity in the transfer market as “impressive”. Nice one Adrian.
That Messrs Toivenon and Alderweireld didn’t fancy it mattered not one jot. If they were not prepared to swim the North Sea to get here that was their loss – or so we told ourselves (in hindsight Alderweireld’s Champion’s League final appearance may just have swung it for him). But still we landed a magnificent seven (ahem… again).
This summer is different. The ‘silly season’ seems already to be over and was more around who would be Delia and David’s chosen one. Okay, we still await the appointment of a coaching team and the technical director, but following the appointment of Neil Adams none of us are expecting names to make the pulse race.
Ditto the appointment of the club’s director of football recruitment following Ewan Chester’s decision to leave his current role this summer ‘due to personal reasons. And, while it may be pure coincidence, one wonders if this particular void accounts partly for the white noise with regard to new signings.
Or that could just be me putting two and two together and getting five… as usual.
Either way, the silence emanating from the club at the moment is deafening. And not just the club. The normal routine is for two or three players’ names to crop up on an almost daily basis with the tabloids and players’ agents doing their best to stoke the fires. But no. At least not yet.
That doesn’t mean work is not feverishly going on behind the scenes to supplement the class of 2014 – I’m sure it is. But still most of the talk is around who will be departing rather than who will be arriving.
It appears likely that Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington have both kicked their last ball in the canary yellow – the latter describing himself and Wes as ‘Norwich reserves’ in a tongue-in-cheek tweet – with confusion reigning over whether Pilkington’s absence in the run-in was due to injury or by virtue of the manager not picking him.
Others will no doubt depart – John Ruddy, Robert Snodgrass and Martin Olsson have all earned another crack at the Premier League – but it’s who will form the core of Neil Adams squad that is of most interest to us.
I read recently, with interest, a messageboard thread that asked if we should recall Andrew Surman to the Fine City. The answer was an almost unanimous ‘yes’. I wonder if Neil Adams feels the same.
Upon Surman’s departure to the South Coast, just before the season began, I wrote a piece in which I suggested we had seen the last of him in a City shirt. At the time the move made perfect sense for all parties. Now I’m not so sure – in fact I tend to agree with those on the Pink’Un forum.
Surman is now 27 – at his footballing peak – and possesses a footballing brain that is proven at Championship level, not to mention a left foot that can open a tin of peas. The questions marks over his ability to physically ‘mix it’ at Premier league level remain, but at Championship level we know he can operate in a successful side; his goal in that famous 5-1 one of favourite ever City memories.
Where once his best position was on the left hand tip of a diamond, thanks to Eddie Howe it now seems he has considerable experience of playing in a central midfield two.
Think about it… a central midfielder with a footballing brain, a sweet left foot, who can hit a ‘killer’ pass and who has a habit of passing to his own team-mates. Sounds like a refreshing change to me. I hesitate to use the phrase no-brainer but…
Of course there are other things to consider – like the wishes of Surman himself – but, to coin a phrase, his return would be akin to a new signing. Certainly food for thought.
News that Leroy Fer has made the final cut in the Dutch World Cup squad means City – unless he secures himself a move in the next ten days – will at least have a representative in Brazil 2014.
While the Dutchman may not have been all that we had hoped – and those grainy images of him having pre-signing dinner in Yellows seem an awfully long time ago now – he has shown, in flashes, there is an international footballer in there fighting to get out.
Let’s hope, if given the opportunity, he does himself and Norwich City proud.