For many the departure of Anthony Pilkington to Cardiff City is further proof that Norwich is a club in decline. The tip of an iceberg that’s bound to culminate in a fire sale of the club’s assets of value.
Except it isn’t. Nothing of the sort.
MyFootballWriter understands that Pilkington has been angling for a move out of the Fine City for over a season and had made crystal clear his desire to depart some time ago.
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hadn’t offered him that opportunity someone else would have. His leaving was a question of when, not if. It’s what the player wanted.
As is normal for a relegated side – or any side for that matter – over the summer Neil Adams sat down with his players, individually, to find out who was up for the challenge of a Championship promotion push. From those meetings he emerged with lists of those he wanted to retain, those he wanted to move on and those for whom he would consider offers.
Pilkington was firmly in the ‘wanting to move on’ camp and, as a result, did not form part of Adam’s long-term plan. It would have made no sense to do so and, although, as a professional Pilks would undoubtedly have given his all, his heart would have been elsewhere.
No-one wins in that situation and with only twelve months left on his contact his re-sale value would have dwindled with every passing game.
And on the subject of playing games, concerns remained over the player’s ability to do so regularly and for a sustained period of time. Such has been his physical fragility over the last season, when he was due to play his pre-game training was tailored accordingly.
In his prime of course Pilkington was that rare breed of a two-footed winger with pace who chipped in with his fair share of goals. And in his pomp he could give the best Premier League full-backs serious problems.
Alas, since that glorious glancing header, which had Anders Lindegaard clutching at thin air, we’ve seen very little of that tormentor of top-six full-backs. He disappeared, usually to Colney’s physio room, with a succession of niggling injuries doing little to propel his career in the direction we all desired.
Instead we had a winger with massive potential but who showed it all too rarely. To have played less than 60 league games in three seasons tells a story of its own. In the last year the number of different hair-styles have been on a par with the number of games.
And while his recent, and final, spat with Neil Adams has been officially declared non-contributory to the move away, MyFootballWriter understands he did not train on Friday, even though his ensuing Twitter missive suggested otherwise.
Of course there are those who perceive the act of selling him to ‘a rival’ as folly, but when a player wants away and a club meets the asking price – for the record it’s closer to £2million than the £1.25 that has been reported – then a decision has to be made. And we all know the impact on the dressing room of unhappy players.
And there are other players who will likely depart before the deadline; some because they want to depart, others because they have a price.
Leroy Fer likely falls in the latter category, the price in question being of eight figures, although QPR’s interest appears to have waned a little when presented with the asking price. Luciano Becchio and Seb Bassong without question fall in the former. Both want away and will be helped on their way as soon as a suitable offer comes in.
Another who has been the subject of offers is Nathan Redmond – Mark Hughes being the most recent to show his hand – but the club wants to keep him. Adams understandably sees him as an integral part of his plans and will do everything possible to keep him. If he were to depart – and that’s a big *if* – it would be for very top dollar.
And every pound received by the club will head straight to the Adams transfer pot; the £2million from Cardiff already burning a hole on the manager’s pocket.
For some it may appear we’re teetering on the brink but, in reality, we’re in the same state of flux of any club that has headed southwards out of the Premier League. It’s a well-trodden path and City are no different. Decisions have been made, a plan is being adhered to and everything should become much clearer come September 2.
Only at that point Adams will know precisely the hand he has to play.
Michael Chipmunk says
Well placed club mouthpiece. Think I’ll take the above with a pinch of salt.
I stand duly enlightened, thanks!
David Price says
A very creditable plan and I sort of believe it but
our season is up and running and we really do not want to see a repeat of the apathy and lack of direction seen at Wolves. Neil has to get it right selecting the right players ( I can see talent and skill but I do not see a winning mentality yet or the wherewithal to execute a win. We should be more confident at home and I think we may be OK but lets start turning up for away games please.
Alan Medis says
Wish him well (not against us though). The winner against Man Utd. (and ‘bold’ facial hair arrangements) would be the stand out memory but on the whole, too inconsistent in form and fitness to really be a big miss. Seems a little on the cheap side.
I await future incoming new heroes with the proverbial bated breath.
I’m sorry Gary, I usually enjoy your columns but this one does nothing to reassure me either. The sale of Snodgrass and loan deal for RvW both made sense, but this doesn’t, especially to a promotion rival. I will wait until the window closes to see the outcome, but I have very much lowered my expectations for this year after this.
M Noz says
Agree with Chipmunk. This reads like either the proclamation of a kool aid drinker or perhaps was penned by Neil Adams’ wife. Not convinced.
Simon Bellas says
you expect us to believe this bull about the money being reinvested? If thats the case why have we not spent more than half of the Snodgrass money? Little old Norwich springs to the fore yet again!!
Let’s face it, he was always injured and when he did play he often looked unfit. Potential is what he seemed to have- but largely unrealised in my opinion. In fact I had almost forgotten he was on our books. For those old enough to remember, he reminds me of Keith O’Neill from yrs gone by. He lost interest in playing for us and his potential was never realised either. Couple of million looks good business for him. No doubt he will now re-discover his mojo and go on to have a great game against us! What will be really interesting is who NA spends the money on. More concerned by the seeming lack of incoming fresh faces. More like Grabban and Lafferty needed – hungry and not tainted by relegation. Hopefully someone in defence because apart from Ruddy that looks like a real weakness to me.
Ooh Gary, you’ve upset some with this reality check! The fact is the club has to manage a reduction in turnover of circa £40m this season. Whether that is covered by the “relegation” clauses in players contracts is a moot point.
No one seemed to care last summer when ten players were released / sold with eight coming in, but now the perspective is different because we have been relegated.
Adams has to be given time to mould the squad to his liking, as all managers do. However, some seem to have made their minds up already, whatever he or the club does is wrong.
Mike C says
Knives already sharpened by the sound of it.
I always liked Pilks, he made stuff happen when he was playing well, but that simply wasn’t often enough, initially through fitness issues, but more lately? I don’t know, but some have already decided.
Like others I’m expecting other departures in this window, but I’m getting frustrated by the lack of any apparent incoming players. A lot remains to be sorted because what we have doesn’t look enough.
Great article, Joe Ferrari.
Better of with money …one thought the header that beat the gunners thanks mate Otbc
I’m just amazed someone took a punt on a player whose legs fall of twice a week. Adams sees the Murphy’s as the future so thanks for the money. I bet he keeps the physio very busy all season until the nodge games when he gets a brace in each. Typical
Stewart Lewis says
I don’t have any special knowledge of Carrow Road matters, but Pilkington’s attitude over the past year is wholly consistent with Gary’s account. I’m sorry, because there seemed to be exciting potential when he signed – and Pilks & Snodgrass were key to the 10-match unbeaten run under He-who-must-not-be-named – but his contribution over the past 18 months has been minimal.
For the sceptics about all this, I suggest you note Gary’s final point: ‘everything should become much clearer come September 2’. Let’s judge then, not before.
I’m amazed no one has mentioned the numerous histrionics Pilkington had on and off the field in front of the home crowd. Was I the only one to notice?! Endless paddies when he wasn’t brought on as sub, arms flailing on the pitch when asked to do a job by the manager. A supremely talented player, such a shame he couldn’t focus his energies.
Agree with all you say Gary. Couple of questions to all the doom mongers and naysayers above:
1 – When was Pilk’s last good game?
2 – When was Pilk’s last game?
£20 for a player who’s only played 60 games (and how many of those were full outings? ) in three years? Good business.
Michael Chipmunk says
Most accurate comment by a mile – “great article, Joe Ferrari”.
Michael Chipmunk says
Given the furore of the last 24 hours, the club would be as thick as bovine excrement to not feed something like this through to little old Gary. He can’t sign something he’s not been or going to be offered, can he.
Dave B says
This makes sense. When you take into account not having to page his wage I’m sure City will be up closer to 3m by end of the season, if not more.
It’s a shame it’s to a promotion rival, but if he spends all season in the physio’s room then we can consider it 2m they’re not spending on someone else.
I do think Gary is overestimating Fer’s value, unless people really are fickle enough to be swayed by one world cup goal. Of course, I’d take it!
We shouldn’t bargain too hard for Becchio or Bassong either. Get those wages off the books and protect the bottom line.
Gordon in Oz says
Great Potential…but as a coaching colleague of mine used to say the definition of potential is “Never Done It”. Pilks always looked like he was about to be amazing. Good luck to him on his travels but I do not think he is a loss.
Keith B says
Pilkington suffered a serious injury that kept him out of the Huddersfield team for the final 6 months of his time there. Signing him was a risk in the first place, especially as he leap-frogged the Championship altogether.
Although he recovered from that career threatening I’ve always wondered if the knock is that he puts stresses and strains on his frame that wouldn’t normally cause a problem. Like when you twist an ankle and start leaning more heavily on the other one for a while, only more complicated and longer term.
It was always noticeable that when he was back “officially” fit it always took him a while to get back to his best – and as soon as he did seemed to get another strain and be back where he was.
I suspect that AP fears he hasn’t got many years in him and from our point of view I think this is a good deal. If he were joining us from Cardiff for this amount and with his fitness record I doubt if anyone here would be over the moon.
Just out of interest, what do the cynics like Chipmunk really think happened then?
Ben K says
Mr Chipmunk, and others,
Fans like you spitting the dummy out are not what the club need. Any club being relegated and changing manager goes through a restructuring and will have players who want to leave. Bigger clubs than ours have gone down, with a few years’ worth of PL cash behind them, and got themselves into terrible messes. Look at Wolves, relegated twice in a row. Are we a bigger club than Wolves?
Judge the summer business on September 2nd when it’s all done and dusted.
John C says
I always take articles and comments posted here as part of the overall picture. I once has a contact on the inside of NCFC and the ‘truth’ that came out was so much different to the propaganda peddled in the EEN/EDP/Pinkun that I learned long ago that there many facets to every story. I read all I can but often it is the same angle in many papers/sites because they work off the Club’s media department. I read Gary’s articles, and the other columnists/contributors, not with a jaundiced eye, but to get his/their slant on things.
You don’t have to agree with it. In fact you may diasgree, and that is what fuels sites like this. Everyone has their own opinions……
I posted yesterday that I wasn’t sorry to see Pilks go – he hadn’t, in my humble opinion, been cutting the mustard for a while now. He didn’t appear to want to put his tattoos, beard or hair on the line for City. More style than substance.
If the ‘committee’ do not re-invest the circa £2m in new players they could be misunderstood as making a statement of ‘battening down the hatches’ for a prolonged period in the Championship. NA should be given the money from the sale.
The Murphys may be able to fill some of the voids, but they have be encouraged, and currently I do not see NA having the confidence to give them extended runs in the team to build up their experience/confidence. Redmond may still go. But if he doesn’t, is he the future for the left side ? Loads of potential but, as I posted yesterday, his final pass, cross or shot, still leave a lot to be desired. Too many wasted efforts.
Also, I’m not too sure about the away kit. Too dark? Too difficult to pick out a player against the background of the crowd ?
Remember MUFC and the grey kit ? Thoughts anyone ?
Alan Medis-2 says
Some strange conspiracy theories being floated by individuals – and all over the sale of a fairly average performer in our colours. Gary seems to have been made the central villain in it all – you’ll be telling us that he shot JFK or filmed the ‘moon landings’ in the Arizona desert?
Individuals come and go – I can’t see it (Pilko’s departure) having any bearing on the season’s events. However, Neil does need to bolster the defence and quick.
Leni Masad says
JC(23) – with you on our away kit. I kept my head down while there seemed to be general praise for its ‘bold’ and ‘innovative’ design. For me (irrespective of any practical footballing reasons), it’s an eyesore worthy of inclusion in the hall of kit shame;
..City’s ’92 paint explosion makes it in there.
Stewart Lewis says
Thoughtful comments by John C (23).
The Board have made a bit of a rod for their own backs with comments like ‘We don’t have to sell’. Yes, being debt-free is a huge plus point and great credit to them. But the fact remains that our income is precipitously down this year and the wage bill needs to be slashed. Only part of that can come for the built-in salary reductions (smart as they are) – and every transfer costs much more than the headline price. So it’s a tough management challenge to replace departing players with acceptable quality and quantity.
Interesting thought about the away kit, too. Too soon to judge, but it’s a very subdued colour – did it contribute to a subdued performance? Look forward to seeing them sparkle in yellow and green tomorrow! OTBC
You can rationalise this however you like but selling good players to rival clubs can’t be a good thing. The question we should all be asking is why there is a group of players who have wanted to leave for some time even if that just means joining another championship club. The club has failed to get the best out of players like Bass, Pilks and Becchio and it’s cost us.
Andy B says
Recommend anyone who questions this sale look at the West Ham goal in last seasons home game and Pilkingtons contribution to it. I am more concerned with the lack of signings given the inevitable sales that will occur in the next few days. We will end up paying top dollar for 2nd and 3rd choice players. Last season we were exposed in the full back positions and I saw enough in the Wolves game to suggest the problem remains. Hoping that NA can pull some rabbits from the hat but my fear is that he doesn’t have the necessary”pull” to get the quality needed.