It’s not often we welcome an international break but there’s little doubt this one came at just the right time.
Normally it’s a case of filling the middle Saturday with something with something that doesn’t involve watching our yellow-clad heroes fill us with either joy or despair (never anything in between), watch the the international games that involve said heroes and then pray that all return to Colney unscathed.
While the latter remains, for this particular break parts one and two of the above equation have actually triggered some light relief after a few days that seemed to reignite all of the less healthy traits of the Yellow Army. Such was the wrath, the needle on the venom-ometer was hovering dangerously close to the levels reached in the final throes of the Hughton era.
And when that’s the case no-one wins.
The frustration around not bringing in a new centre-back was understandable and, in the cold light of day, not to have acquired – in 62 days – one who’s better than those we already have was a pretty poor show. And no-one will know that more than Messrs McNally and Darnbrough.
Both will be asking “why” and both will probably have been on the receiving end of an Alex Neil glare – and no-one wants to be there.
But the non-arrival of a new centre back was not due to a lack of “ambition” or effort on the part of the recruitment team and not because they were too preoccupied to answer the mobile when it rang.
It happened, I suspect, because when the crunch came the name ‘Norwich City’ does not have the allure that we all like to believe. In European terms, we’re not much of a catch.
And before anyone accuses me of adopting ‘little ol’ Norwich’ mode, it’s not about that. I dream of us locking horns with the PL’s top half on an equal footing as much as the next fan, but in 2015/16 that’s not going to happen.
In fact, given that Watford and Bournemouth both enjoy external backing of an ilk we can only dream, I’d suggest that right now for a prospective new signing we’re the 20th most attractive in the Premier League. That’s the harsh and not very pleasant reality.
A significant hurdle when trying to get players in.
Thankfully, for some the Alex Neil factor will play a part in them joining a club that we all know is on an upwardly mobile path but it’s a hard one to sell to someone who is also being sought by top six Serie A or Bundesliga clubs – and who doesn’t wish their CV to be potentially blighted with a relegation battle.
We tell anyone who’ll listen that ‘we are massive’ but I’m not sure that counts for too much when it’s decision time.
Throw into the mix a location that is not sufficiently close to the capital to use as part of the ‘sell’, and pockets that are the shallowest in the top flight and the transfer window becomes hard work – especially when those of foreign shores are in your sights.
Therefore, on that basis, we need to be grateful for the role played by Youssouf Mulumbu in luring his countryman to the Fine City. What the arrival of Dieumerci Mbokani has also done is to whet the appetite for next Saturday, when hopefully much of the angst will again be replaced by hope.
On an otherwise underwhelming transfer deadline day for City fans, one shard of light was offered by the BBC’s World Service sports reporter, John Bennett who tweeted: ‘Whatever happens before 6, Dieumerci Mbokani will be my favourite transfer. He’ll miss a few, he’ll score a few, he’ll elbow a few. #DRCongo‘.
All of which makes it sound like it could be fun.
Interestingly, the sense of frustration felt by fans at 6:01pm on Tuesday looks to have been shared by the players too. Russell Martin, in bemoaning the fact that a late £8million bid for Steven Naismith was unsuccessful, said: “I’m sure our club will be disappointed. I know as players we were disappointed and I’m sure the manager will feel the same.”
Yet, until the club establishes itself in the Premier League – a la Swansea, Stoke and Southampton – and/or somehow finds itself with access to oodles of cash it’s hard to see transfer windows being anything other than frustrating.
And perhaps that’s something we just need to live with.
“‘Norwich City’ does not have the allure” – a covenient excuse (look at Swansea!). It comes down to money, simple as that. Palace only lured cabaye due to his £100k a week (nothing to do with Pardew either…A ludicrous argument). I can’t see him dreaming of playing at selhurst park as a boy. It all comes down to whether or not you are willing to break the wage structure. A ‘name’ means nothing,..Hence why we are always saying football is all about money. I’m not saying we should break the bank, but it’s all down to the fact we’re annoying clubs with silly bids and then players with contracts that don’t match expectations. Let’s face it, we will need to add an extra 10k or two a week to lure a good player, esp from abroad. To say we can’t is not true…RVW?!
Gary Gowers says
Fair points Toad, although Swansea’s allure (I’m already regretting using that term) is enhanced by several seasons of PL status, most of which have been free of relegation struggles. Point re RvW is a fair one – and I’m not saying we *can’t* attract the odd big name – but just seems, to me at least, that for the reasons stated it’s more difficult for City, as a PL outfit, to operate in the window than it is for others. And, yes, it largely boils down to hard cash.
‘Tis galling, indeed, to see the likes of Bournemouth and Watford topping-up with players in abundance whilst tumbleweed continues to roll by Carrow Road. Surely the names of ‘Southampton’ and ‘Swansea’ cannot have inspired football stars in recent years, but these clubs have managed to attract good players nonetheless. So it has to be the dosh, or rather a shortage of it, being the reason why Norwich City FC fail to entice top players through the door. Wave a big enough bundle of notes at these players’ agents and stand well back as they rush to leap on private jets to Norwich. So, if Norwich City FC can cling onto Premier League status for a couple of seasons and thereby build a big enough war chest, then our beloved club’s name may yet get to rank alongside such attractive giants of the beautiful game as Southampton, Swansea – AND (still can’t believe I’m saying this), ‘Bournemouth’. (ffs!)
Paul Lancaster says
I actually believe that the RvW situation has made us a bit nervous about splashing too much cash – many teams spent lots on players that didn’t reach their anticipated heights (QPR more than most) but they have managed to wriggle out with backing (for will be stung with FFP fines) we don’t have that luxury. To break wage structure risks upsetting the other troops and requests for salary increases so why its done I get. Teams that offer big salary contracts don’t necessarily gain success and often attract players that disrupt.. and sit on the bench. I don’t have an answer for this other than to create a successful team (chicken and egg…)
Tim Sell says
We may not have been able to bring in a proven CB but there was nothing stopping us from taking a gamble on an unproven youngster for cover who may have come good. After all, thats what we did by employing AN as manager. We have failed by bringing in no one.
Jon Dunn says
“We may not have been able to bring in a proven CB but there was nothing stopping us from taking a gamble on an unproven youngster for cover who may have come good.”
Isn’t that what Andre Wisdom is? Liverpoo fans reckon CB is his strongest position – and if anything ‘happens’ to Bassong or Martin anytime soon, we may find out pretty damned quickly whether they’re correct!
Not convinced by Lee Darnborough’s efforts though – he’d already failed to deliver at Burnley before we “swooped” (god, I hate that expression) for his “services”? Worst thing is, by the time (Jan) we get to address this CB deficit, it ‘s quite possible that we’ll have conceded hat-fulls of goals and be perilously adrift of the pack 🙁
We shall see – I hope I’m wrong.
Andy pearmain says
No football in the international break? I went to lowestoft and had the most simply enjoyable of Saturday afternoons since I was a kid watching revie’s Leeds before the cynicism set in. Not so much for the not so mighty town, who’ll be lucky to stay up this year, as for the glorious fc United of Manchester. Lively young team, who scored 4 good goals – one of them great – bu#t above all fantastic supporters. 500 came down from the northwest, so doubling the attendance (and by the looks of it the bar takings), sang their hearts out all game and created a proper football atmosphere. The really interesting contrast in football these days isn’t so much between the relatively loaded brands of the premier league as between the new fan owned clubs like fcum and old-style local clubs owned by small businesspeople like lowestoft (and for that matter norwich). It was clear from the 1-4 scoreline which is in the ascendancy!
Gary Gowers says
As a Lowestoftian it was my intention to do the same, alas best made plans … etc
Sounded like a great afternoon, if not a disappointing result for the locals
Michael D says
I must admit, I’d love to know what the ‘real’ story was regarding the CB issue. And I agree, AN must have had to swallow hard about the failure to land someone here – like everyone else I find it really hard to believe we weren’t able to sign someone credible, and I also can’t believe that Bassong is the last credible CB signing we have made!!
Having said that, if we are to look at the position in the best way possible, Wisdom does provide a 4th option – and if we have injuries may well have to play there. And if he does, then Elliot Bennett provides another option at right back, and I actually wouldn’t mind seeing how he performs at this higher level, since he has the pace that Whittaker doesn’t. So on that basis we currently have 4 CB options (2 of whom can play RB), 2 other RB options, and 2 LB options (Olsson and Toffolo). So we have 8 defenders available, excluding Brady, until January. It’s not fantastic, given the number of goals we have shipped already, but well, it will certainly give all these players a chance to up their games. So lets just hope a few of them do – and we don’t have 2-3 major injuries there!
Stewart Lewis says
To echo a point made earlier by Gary, Swansea and Soton did NOT splash the cash as soon as they reached the Premier League. They built gradually – in Soton’s case greatly helped by a conveyor belt of young talent to sell – to the point where they are now.
We can get there too – but it will take some patience (and astute signings in the meantime like Mulumbu and Brady).
David Bowen says
I really can’t understand all the vitriol from so many fans towards the board and management because we haven’t signed Vincent Kompany or Yaya Toure, we desperately need a dose of reality! As for Bradley Johnson being “forced out” of Carrow Road, one thing I have learned about Bradders is his commitment and honesty, if it was not his decision to move on, there is no way on earth he would have thanked the club for “allowing” him to move!
Good article, yet again, Gary.
Some people just don’t get it. To attract players, we have to be seen as a club less likely to be facing relegation.
What will overcome that?
A ‘big name’ manager. Might.
Being closer to London. Might.
A bigger wage packet. Might.
Alex Neil will probably keep us up, at which point, in next year’s summer transfer window, we’ll do marginally better. (viz: RVW)
I’m constantly amazed at our many fans who have such deep, meaningful and contradicting views of what our board and management engage in behind closed doors.
We have a special club. Support it and STOP MOANING!
Stewart Lewis says
BucksCanary (12) – A definite contender for best-ever comment on MFW.
Buckscanary (#12) spot on sir, great comment on an intelligent and thoughtful piece by Gary. I too get exasperated by moaning fans who whinge about ‘the board’, or the CEO or everyone else like they are incompetent buffoons or on the make. Fair comment and criticism is fine, but some comments are well over the top or just pathetic.
I have supported our great team for the past 33 years of my 38 alive and have seen many players great and bad come and go I have been dissapointed and excited by things we do as a club. I can’t believe there are still people (so called fans) that can’t see or remember years gone by when we had no money were in a lot of debt and at best a mid championship team, can’t you remember what our special little family has done for us(not many owners will write a new book just to buy out of her own pocket our great huckerby). How many EPL teams are completely debt free and have a fair stack of cash in the bank. Yes the fact that we didn’t get a CB is a bad thing it’s not the end of the world. We have enough to, if it happens keep a strong team together to bounce streight back up by having one of the strongest teams in the league. I honestly think we will be ok and comfortable mid table, I have seen enough so far this season to warrent that thought so far other than soton we have bossed the games just been unlucky in front of goal but hopefully that will change with Mbokani. Come Jan we will have a much better picture of where we are heading and I am sure we will still be working on filling that CB position and maybe even another forward of top quality. The players we have will do just fine for now. I think and it’s my oppinion only but the way our club is run is sensible and a work in progress it’s not going to be an over night overhall (rome wasn’t built in a day and during building would have looked shabby in places til it was finished) I also think we will in the very near future be a strong top half team it’s just going to take time and good organization to get there. OTBC
Why all the fuss about a ‘better’ centre back than the ones we have? AN made it very clear that wouldn’t happen – he was never going to drop Martin and a Bassong on the bench is a Bassong looking for trouble. He knew his favourite two so he was never going to bring in someone better. Cover, maybe (Wisdom?). But not better. As much as we’d have preferred that…