Fair play to Bournemouth from the angle of buying British and investing in youth when the overriding temptation with most PL clubs would be to go abroad and go experienced for a centre back at that kind of eye-popping transfer fee. Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling is valued at £50million by Liverpool.
Archives for June 2015
During 1971/72, Carrow Road saw an attendance of over 30,000 on four occasions with a staggering 34,914 packing into the ground for the home clash against Bristol City on April 4th. Think of Carrow Road as it is today then add around an extra 8,000 fans.
My instinct tells me that despite socio-economic data (whatever that is) and the fact that we sold our allocation at Wembley, our current capacity is and will remain just about right for us.
Just two years ago Ricky van Wolfswinkel was seen as the player who was going to spearhead the City strike-force and drive them from a team constantly battling for safety to an established Premier League club under the guidance of one Chris Hughton.
If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt during Alex Neil’s brief tenure it’s that he has a meticulous eye for preparatio rarely seen before at Carrow Road. And it’s that which is highly likely to set him apart from his counterparts at Bournemouth and Watford.
Of course with the club newly flushed with Premier League TV money, we’ll be an attractive proposition to players already or soon to be out of contract. Add to that the almost mystical aura that surrounds Alex Neil, which will be a major persuasive factor.
I hope City’s marketing department were not observing too closely events as they unfolded in Islington. I’d hate for Bradley Johnson to be the subject of a Naomi Campbell-style catwalk tumble or for John Ruddy to suffer the ignominy of an interview in which he’s asked to comment on the neckline of his new shirt.
Finishing 12th that season seemed an achievement. Another year in the Premier League – who would have thought it! And it meant more big clubs could be ticked off the list at a more relaxed pace, plus some favourites could be revisited. However on June 2nd 2012 the Messiah left. There was disbelief that our hero, who had lead us through a double promotion, had left us.
McNally’s tenure at Norwich has been five years of remarkable success and one of failure. The hurt of that failure makes him determined to avoid a repetition, and his determination is as steely as the strength that led him to appoint AN when we were all clamouring for an experienced head.
Our recent stint in the top flight showed that as the Premier League riches have grown, so has the accompanying circus of statistics and analysis. I still recall the sleepless nights I had, fretting over why we were the only team yet to score from open-play in the first 20 minutes of an away match.
Football is naturally a competitive game and, when your club is completing at the highest level, whether in the Championship or the Premier League, it’s understandable why very few managers are brave enough to risk an inexperienced, academy player, rather than a seasoned old pro. The odds are stacked so much against the academy player.
While the Belgian’s arrival in a summer of upheaval didn’t come with the bells and whistles that heralded the entrances of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer a year earlier, his was probably the one that sparked most interest, with YouTube offering us a tantalising glimpse of his Club Brugge form.
Even allowing for post-Wembley euphoria, there is a genuine feel-good factor at Norwich City. In over 30 years, I have seldom seen the club so aligned from top to bottom. From the owners, through the playing staff to the supporters, there is a genuine resolve and shared belief. It’s a wonderfully rare thing.
Whilst Alex Neil, a man whose glare is so terrifying it is one of only two things in the known Universe deadly enough to be able to defeat Superman, has made no secret of his admiration for Martin, nor the faith he has in him as a man, player and captain.
I’m prepared to put my head above the parapet and state that Norwich will finish higher than Watford next season. I’m also confident that it won’t be done by finishing second from bottom. I’m predicting a mid-table season.
Aidan’s yellow and green journey also began aged four but had inglorious beginnings. His debut was in 2008, in the midst of the Glenn Roeder era, when a Robert Earnshaw-inspired Nottingham Forest saw fit to offer him an early taste of Canary defeat.
Tony Andreu was signed by Alex Neil from Accies and was the SPL top scorer at the time. He was, on paper at least, ideally placed to spearhead the promotion push but the player struggled to cope with the demands of the Championship and Alex quickly realised there were better, more equipped options available.
While to the watching world I expect the club to trot out the ‘consolidation in the first season back’ platitude, I’m positive that was not the mindset that took Hamilton Academicals to third place in the SPL at the turn of the year.
I’m getting on a bit, but the first ever promotion to the top division in 1971/72, when Ron Saunders and Duncan Forbes played the key Alex Neil and Russell Martin roles back, is stretching my brain cells too far. I was alive but Lego and Action Man were probably playing a more important part in my life than events at Carrow Road.