Well, the season has to start somewhere. It may as well be by virtue of a St George’s Park, behind-closed-doors win over Walsall in a 3 x 30 minute extravaganza.
That City won 2-1 was meaningless, as was a ‘Zola’ from Cameron Jerome, as was defending for the Saddlers’ goal that had 2015/16 stamped all over it. It was an exercise in fitness and if, as it appears, the majority managed to get an injury-free 45 minutes under their belt it was job done.
The club’s decision not to open the doors to the media may have irked Archant but as a rule cobweb-ridding of this kind usually offers far more to the players and staff than it does to spectators. And it’s done, their stay at luxurious home of English football is over and they can now return to the real world.
And that real world entails a trip to the seaside on Tuesday when in the evening they line up against Lowestoft Town as part of the Trawlerboys’ thankyou to club stalwart Micky Chapman.
As a footballing spectacle I suspect it will be of a similar ilk to that witnessed by the groundsman at St George’s but it’ll be a return to 45 minute halves and another step for the players on the road to full fitness, following on from what sounds a gruelling regime in Burton.
Intriguingly, said group of players still includes one Timm Klose and (whisper it quietly) to date there has been virtually no mention in the national media of ‘interest’ from clubs in higher echelons. Whether we can keep his presence in the Fine City sufficiently muted until August 31 remains to be seen but he doesn’t half suit that new shirt.
In terms of new signings, while we still await any white smoke, news that Liverpool had accepted a £2.5 million City bid for their Spanish winger Sergi Canós appeared promising, albeit for now at least that trail appears to have gone cold.
One suspects there is an offer on the table awaiting the signature of Master Canós but his agent has urged caution from his client just in case something better crops up.
So it’s a waiting game, one that has given us all time to do some interweb research on said Spaniard, which has revealed a speedy, tricky right-winger who has represented his country at every level from Under-15 to Under-19 and who impressed many in his loan spell at Brentford.
Be patient folks.
Elsewhere, talk of nasty old City slapping a £20 million price tag on Robbie Brady has caused a rumble or two, not least in Leicester who, while initially being in the box seat, seem to have lost interest in signing our most prized asset; the Foxes instead preferring to throw £16 million in the direction of CSKA Moscow for the services of Ahmed Musa.
But that’s fine. We’ve long accepted that one of the better players in Euro 2016 won’t be gracing Carrow Road again but what the club must do is scrape every last pound it can out of any deal. If Nathan Redmond departed for circa £11 million, it seems perfectly reasonable to demand considerably more for one fresh from the tournament of his life and who still has two years to run on his contract.
I doubt very much that when he finally departs it will be for £20 million but as a starting point for negotiation I think that Steve Stone – or whoever is the current arm-wrestler – has called it about right; at least it is if City’s desire for value is greater than their need for instant cash.
A new face or two will eventually arrive, but for now Alex Neil appears to be securing the services of those he knows will do a job for him in the Championship – Graham Dorrans being the latest to put pen to paper on an extended deal.
There was some scoffing of course – Dorrans’ ordinary Premier League season saw him give Russell Martin a decent run for his money as the season’s fall guy – but as we gear up for a season in the second tier the Scot is well equipped; his ability to keep the ball a useful one given the not unreasonable assumption that City will see more than their fair share of the ball this season.
If the club was bracing itself for another tilt at Premier League survival then Dorrans and Steven Whittaker would have been on the fringes and beyond but it’s not and both proved last time round that the Championship is well within their comfort zone, so no complaints from me.
And then there’s Ricky. Oh Ricky…
Never before has one who has done so little been on the receiving end of such unconditional adoration. Well, apart from Becchio… and Lafferty… and Wilbraham.
I completely get that most of us are romantics at heart and love nothing more than to witness the rise of an underdog, but at some point common sense surely has to kick in even if he does possess lovely hair, a cheeky smile and a great attitude.
Ricky may get a chance or two to shine over pre-season and may even notch a tap-in or two along the way but even if he hangs around I just can’t visualise him having the wherewithal to contribute to a promotion push.
A failing on my part perhaps?
But… if he does get into double-figures in the Championship I’ll (un)happily wear an Ipswich Town shirt on the last day of the season, which – as those who know me will confirm – would be undiluted agony.
“On the Ball City…”