After a couple of weeks of speculation, following the eleventh hour breakdown of a loan move on deadline day, Graham Dorrans is due in the Fine City tomorrow. The initial loan deal will run until Sunday, March 22.
I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of Midlands’ midfielders is pretty sketchy these days.
It is not helped by the fact that West Bromwich Albion usually grace the Match of the Day screens for as long as Norwich and the rest of the B-List clubs invariably do.
The one chance you do get to see such clubs in the ‘extended’ highlights slot tends to be the games where they play the role of the lamb in the slaughter.
And even when they are putting another lamb to the sword – as in West Brom’s 4-0 defeat of Burnley earlier this season in which Norwich’s new boy shone – it barely makes a ripple on the surface recognition-wise.
Nope. Graham Dorrans. 27. Scottish international…?
And so like most City punters you turn to Google. For a spot of background reading.
I would recommend this.
If only for one paragraph, which suggests that Norwich’s possible new loan-signing might be a human, not your average Premier League robot.
“I’ve been a fan myself and it’s only when you speak to someone who’s involved in it, suddenly it clicks that footballers aren’t robots. We’re just human beings with families – the same as everyone else.”
Obviously, the Dorrans family have been through the mill more than most young families. You wouldn’t wish a still-born child on anyone. Nor his vigil at the bedside of his young baby as she fought for life.
But I think that piece bodes very well.
The guy has his priorities in life. And they are not all about football. He knows there is more to life than that.
He knows the struggles that people face; he has not been born and bred in some gilded cage free from the every day travails that hit ordinary folk. And that, to my mind, makes him a welcome addition to the City dressing room.
Before he even kicks a ball in anger.
There are other bits and bobs that I like. He has been at one club for seen years; his current contract would have taken him to nine.
That’s good. West Brom have been Premier League for long enough in that time to suggest the guy can bat at that level.
And the fact that the Baggies ‘playmaker’ has found himself out of first team favour with new boss Tony Pulis is no great blot on his copy-book either.
Pulis’ sides tend to see midfield as a nice to have, but not a necessity. And if they have to have one, then graft not craft is the order of the day. Run, run, run… Not pass, pass, pass.
What it means for those already sat in the City dressing room is another interesting question.
Particularly if I am Wes Hoolahan.
Maybe Norwich will be big enough for the both of them. Maybe.
But the little that I have read about Dorrans – and the more that I assume about him – is that his first instincts are to occupy the same, central and creative spaces that Wesley would deem to be his manor.
And he enjoys the advantage of having that little bit more height about him; if Wes had that little extra physicality in his locker, he would still be in the Premier League.
It will also give Jonny Howson that extra spur to keep his game at a certain level, whilst giving the likes of a Tettey, a Johnson or an O’Neil a more natural foil should the manager decide that two up top and a straight four across the middle is his way forward.
The fact that Dorrans is dropping down a division is also indicative of the relative financial power at Norwich’s disposal compared to the Baggies. Not that they are in debt; quite the reverse.
Rather they appear to cut their cloth very tightly and if Pulis wants one or two in, he has got to get one or two out. That’s just the way that they run their ship.
One suspects that Dorrans is a player that Norwich chief Alex Neil will have known and admired. He has been a consistent presence in that Scottish midfield for a number of years – as well as holding down a regular starting place in the Premier League.
There aren’t too many of his ilk floating around Hampden Park.
If I had to reach for a label, character-wise he reads just like another Russell Martin. Someone with his feet planted in the same real world that the City skipper inhabits.
The more you can fill your dressing room with such personalities, the better.
And if his arrival proves to be just one of two in the second half of this season, it isn’t the shabbiest piece of transfer business Norwich have done.
Not by a long, long margin.