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.