Transfer deadline day is almost upon us.
A date in the footballing calendar that used to go largely unnoticed has been given the full Sky treatment to the extent that in recent years, it has arguably generated more excitement and interest than the League Cup Final.
Whilst Jim White and his yellow tie will be afforded star billing, his Sky colleagues get the less desirable task of standing outside the gates of clubs up and down the country and trying to peer through the windows of each passing car.
They’ll be joined by the usual eclectic mix of supporters aiming for their fifteen minutes of fame whether that’s by gurning into the camera, sharing an intimate moment by the gates near the River End or waving assorted purple ‘objects’ in the faces of the Sky Sports’ reporters.
All of this will undoubtedly unfold in front of a totaliser showing just how many millions of pounds are nominally swapping hands as the seconds tick by before the window “slams shut” (an expression which in itself is designed to help foster the sense of drama).
To be honest I had become fairly tired of all the hype. Maybe it’s because there are only so many times you can see Harry Redknapp leaning out of a Range Rover window before it loses the novelty value. Or maybe because in recent times we’ve had little to get excited about beyond Martin Olsson’s attempts to battle a snow-covered A14 on his way to the Midlands.
However this year promises to be a little different if for no other reason than we don’t have to sit up as late to be potentially underwhelmed.
Due to it being a Bank Holiday today, the deadline has been extended, albeit with an earlier finish so all transfers must be registered by 6pm tomorrow evening. (Note to Martin Olsson: If you thought the A14 was bad last year you should see it during rush hour just in case you go getting any ideas).
More importantly, and unlike last year, you suspect that it may well be an unusually eventful one for the Yellow Army and all those working at Carrow Road and Colney.
It’s a world away from the start of the summer. Alex Neil along with most other football managers spoke about getting business done early and making sure the new lads settle in over pre-season. As such I’ve always been intrigued by the flurry of activity on deadline day and why clubs go right to the wire to complete their spending.
I’m not criticising. I’m someone who leaves Christmas shopping to the last minute. On one occasion I left it so late, I ended perusing the wares of a 24-hour garage on my way round to the family party. It’s a dangerous ploy. In my experience you end up shopping at places you didn’t want to, there are no bargains left and as the minutes count down the desperation really sets in.
“Here you go Dad, here’s the bag of charcoal, screenwash and tin of Pringles you wanted.”
In my case, it’s largely apathy and a general loathing of going shopping. The same can’t be said for Norwich City. No matter how frustrated you are by the lack of additional signings, it would be extremely foolish to accuse David McNally and Alex Neil of inactivity.
The fact that there is still business to be done is due to the complexities and financial intricacy of the deals that they are trying to negotiate.
Despite how it appears to us fans, buying Charlie Austin really isn’t as simple as going to Loftus Road with a briefcase containing £12 million in used notes and offering to ‘throw in Gary Hooper’.
So what can we expect from deadline day? At the time of writing, Mbokani has yet to be revealed as our latest number 9 but that one looks increasingly likely and would provide much needed competition to Jerome in the lone striking role.
The departures of Michael Turner, Carlos Cuellar and Ignasi Miquel mean we have a ‘situation vacant’ at centre-half. The Southampton result will have left many fans hoping for a big money signing to shore up a defence that has yet to keep a clean sheet.
Other than that, we’ll see whether Lewis Grabban’s Rotherham antics can secure the exit he desires. Either way, it’s hard to see him wearing the City again.
Other departures may be delayed until the opening of the loan market as Alex Neil looks to offload some of the fringe players curtesy of his new ‘loan Arranger’ and predecessor Neil Adams.
Let’s just hope that the hard work that the club has put in over the last few months pays off by the time the window ‘slams shut’ tomorrow.
So far I’ve consciously resisted the urge to write about the proceedings of this season. Like many Norwich City fans, I tumble between bouts of wholly irrational negativity and blind optimism depending on events – and boy has it been eventful.
I considered it better to hold a watching brief in order to try and form a more balanced view on our prospects this season but heading into the international break (and for what it’s worth) here are a few observations and questions…
- Despite his red card, if Alex Neil had signed Steven Whittaker last January, we would all be saying what a quality signing he is.
- At today’s prices Nathan Redmond would surely be valued at £20million plus.
- Russell Martin is our leading goal scorer.
- Alex Neil won’t allow City to slip to many abject defeats like Southampton. He deserves and has earned our full support and backing.
- Bradley Johnson may have used up his entire collection of goal tokens last season.
- Graham Dorrans is proving to be a real class act – to part with him and Youssouf Mulumbu would appear a strange call from Tony Pulis.
- Robbie Brady and Olsson together down the left hand side has a far more balanced feel to it than any other combination.
- It’s often said that refereeing decisions even themselves up over the course of a season but that can’t legislate for the incompetence of Simon Hooper.
- With a bit of extra luck (and better refereeing) we could have been sat on nine points after our first four games. The fact that we are not shouldn’t raise alarm.
- Ricky scoring in a competitive match is a less plausible plot twist than the return of Bobby in Dallas.
- Is Gary Hooper a victim of the formation or is it a lack of application?
- Which part of Grabban’s brain decided that crossing Alex Neil and David McNally was a good plan?
- Over the years we’ve tried different formations and different players but we always return to Wes. He’s a very special and unique talent.