In 2011, one of the country’s brightest home-grown talents was playing in the Midlands. A crowd-pleasing left winger with an eye for goal, his fans were delighted to see him picked for England. They were disappointed, but not surprised, to see him sold in August 2012 to a major club for £11million.
That move didn’t work for him. His new manager’s direct and robust style wasn’t suited to his talents, and though the fans liked him he became a bit-part player.
A fresh start was clearly what he needed, though his club was reluctant to let him go. At the last minute of the transfer window on Tuesday, he got a move – a season-long loan to a club more committed to his kind of positive, skilful style.
No wonder he quickly tweeted “Thanks for all the welcome messages and I look forward to wearing the shirt with pride!” Interviewed, the first point he made was “It’s a fresh start for me – a chance to get back to my best”.
Just the kind of player we’d like to see at Norwich, don’t you think? Well, we will. The shirt Matt Jarvis looks forward to wearing with pride is the Canary yellow. Given his style, his escape from West Ham to Norwich must feel like a glorious chance to breathe fresh air.
The arrival of Jarvis seems to have passed largely unnoticed among City fans. Two reasons are no doubt involved: the deal was announced well after the official close of the window – I refuse to say it ‘slammed shut’ – and he’s not a centre back.
Our preoccupation with central defensive cover is understandable – I’m sure David McNally thought he’d be able to add to our options. I’m one of those who believes Russ, Bass and Ryan Bennett are good enough, but it’s a worry that we have only three in that key area. Enough has been said about that for now.
On the other hand, we know that Alex Neil wanted a left-footed winger from the start. In January we failed with a bid for Craig Noone of Cardiff. We now have a clearly superior alternative.
There’s competition right across midfield now (even with the players we’ve sent out on loan), and it’ll be interesting to see who impresses enough to be a regular starter.
Speaking of midfield, it would be remiss not to comment on the departure of our Bradley. It’s fair to say that for most of his time at Norwich – notably the Premier League years – fans’ view of him was ambivalent. But last season he grew into a hero, and we’ll never forget his huge contribution to our eventual triumph.
There’s been much comment along the lines of “there we go – yet another Player of the Season promptly sold”. On that I beg to differ. In the past, we’ve been financially obliged to sell our best players, or morally obliged to let them move to a bigger club.
This is a very different situation. Outstanding in the Championship, BJ has never quite looked a Premier League player. Given the abundance of our options in midfield – further strengthened by the arrivals of Brady and Jarvis – it made sense to let him go to a Championship club if the price was right. And who can question £6million? This seems to me a deal that works for everyone.
Note: there’s a perfectly cogent case for that deal without any extraneous personal or personality factors.
I’ll be ready for Bournemouth in just over a week. So will Alex Neil. We didn’t get everything we wanted for Christmas – sorry, the transfer window – but we got some good stuff and Alex will go about his job positively. As fans, we can do the same.