It’s guest blog time again and first up this season is James Finbow with his take on the lethal cocktail of the transfer window, Deadline Day and Twitter.
Take it away…
Alex receives five transfer tokens from Jez.
“What’s this?” enquires Alex, looking somewhat irked.
“Oh, were you expecting the ten tokens that David gave you last season?” quips Jez. “I’m afraid it’s all we’ve got because our income has halved after you numpties got us relegated. You can have some more if we sell a couple of our prize jewels but so far we’ve had no firm bids, just window shoppers – so you’ll have to ‘make do’. It’s still a decent amount, more than most clubs in this division – we’re not paupers. Who do you want us to try and buy?”
“Well I’d like to buy a guaranteed, 20-goal a season striker, Jez. I’ve heard rumours that they exist, even though there are no guarantees in football! Oh how I long for the day that I’ll see a guaranteed scorer play for me. Oh, and I want a new winger too. Oh, and a centre back while you’re at it. Oh, and a goalkeeper. Actually, make that four goalkeepers – you can never have too many. Oh, and a long-term replacement for Wes. Oh, and what are your thoughts on big screens that rotate and revolve? One of those would be really cool, don’t you think? Can you get me all of those with my five tokens?”
[Jez shakes his head slowly from side to side]
“You’ll have to lower your expectations” he affirms. “I’m sure the fans will understand.”
[A short period of silence is broken by laughter from both before falling silent once more]
[Tumbleweed drifts across the boardroom table]
Yes folks, it’s the wacky world of the transfer window! Twice a year the media, and in particular Sky Sports News, work a nation of 18-year olds (and a few who should be old enough to know better) into a frenzy.
Presenters have their teeth whitened before donning bright yellow ties and shiny dresses. Sky Sources (i.e. Twitter) start tracking helicopters and looking for ‘Arry ‘what’s he up to these days’ Redknapp to give his thoughts on wheelin’, dealin’ and stealin’… sorry, overseas bank accounts.
Unlikely stories emerge of how ‘Vaguely-Decent-But-In-No-Way-World-Class Player A’ is definitely moving to Melchester Rovers for 18 squillion pounds – and, of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with boosting the coffers of Sky’s own betting firm.
Meanwhile, the hero, Jim White, gets aroused by showing off his counting-down-from-ten skills as Big Ben strikes ‘eleven’, so that he can declare to the UK that the farce is over – for six months at least.
I find it all hugely distressing – like Comic Relief but without the laughs. So ‘exactly’ like Comic Relief. Bob Geldoff in his Arsenal shirt shouting “spend some f**king money” to Arsene Wenger, while Tony Pulis visits an orphanage looking for a new centre back.
Yet despite hating it, I’m strangely enthralled at the same time – drawn in by, in particular, those fans who work themselves into such a lather over something they have absolutely no say in whatsoever.
Cries of “We should get our business done early” are later followed by “why don’t we ever do any transfers on the final day?”
“Why are we signing him? His stats are crap on Wikipedia” coincide with “lets sign this guy, he’s the bee’s knees on FIFA.”
Players get linked and they’re rubbish. Then they sign for someone else and we’ve ‘missed out’.
“It was different under Lambert”.
Yeah, it was. But he was shopping in a very different market to the one that we are now. We brought in lower league players who saw us as a step up and increased wages. Now, players want top whack and often see us as a sideways or backwards move.
We’re also competing with big clubs and even bigger resources. And some will say we should continue to shop lower down the leagues – but in the same breath the words ‘lack of ambition’ and ‘little Norwich’ get tossed in. Signing footballers is not as straightforward as many would have you believe. If only there was a button we could press.
I’m surprised the word ‘meltdown’ isn’t constantly the number one trend on Twitter. A quick inspection of other clubs feeds and forums prove Norwich City are no basket case – up and down the leagues there’s select committees of fans who can’t find anything positive to say about the club they purport to support.
It is also their view that if you ‘do’ have anything positive to say you are a ‘happy clapper’. It’s all very school playground stuff – from both sides – given none of these people can affect what happens.
But that’s football fans – no middle ground allowed – even though that’s where the truth tends to lie. Emotions run high and it’s impossible to please everyone. When the window opened I tweeted fellow City fans for their thoughts on which position they believed the club should prioritise to strengthen.
I received close to a hundred responses. ‘Centre forward’ and ‘centre back’ dominated the result but I can tell you that every single position was suggested on more than one occasion. We weren’t going to buy a whole new team so some fans were guaranteed to be unhappy.
As it happens I think we’ve done ok. There are issues, of course. I imagine (and hope) Mr Darnbrough’s position is being reviewed whilst our latest Head of Recruitment, Tony Spearing, seems to have got off Scott free.
Most pleasing to me is seeing younger blood being brought in. The lack of a second striker is a big disappointment and could bite us in the bum but I think Lord Nelson Oliveira is a canny signing. Canos looks raw but exciting, Pritchard is top notch at this level and McGovern offers proper competition in goal.
I can’t see anything that would lead to a ‘demonstration against the board’, unbelievably planned for before the Cardiff game. Kids, eh? If they think this is bad, I wonder how they’d have dealt with the end of the Chase era?
Which leads me on to the Jez Moxey interview…
Nobody goes to bed dreaming of being a football CEO. Despite running a steady ship you are perceived by fans as only ever delivering bad or indifferent news and you’ll never be well liked regardless of ability. But it concerns me greatly that there was such gnashing of teeth from fans over what he said because he didn’t say anything particularly unexpected!
As the completely true conversation* above proves, our income halved – so why would anyone suddenly expect we had a war chest of used bank notes to throw around? As a Championship club without a wealthy benefactor, the only way this club can operate in the transfer market is to trade.
Sell a Redmond, bring in a Canos and a Pritchard – that’s good business. Sell a Brady, bring in an Assombalonga. It almost worked but that’s the problem – that sale never materialised, so budgets were altered and targets downgraded as a result. And that’s sensible business.
I think perhaps it’s a little unfortunate that we were relegated alongside Newcastle and Villa. They have muddied the waters with their big spending.
But when Villa blow us out of the water on wages, we can’t get too frustrated as we did precisely the same to Brighton over Pritchard. It’s swings and roundabouts.
We’ve spent well over £30million in 2016 on transfer fees alone. The club financially is very stable, debt-free, asset-heavy but cash-poor – something I think many fans have trouble to comprehend.
“Where’s the Premier League money?” The answer? It’s all been spent! There’s really no way of dressing it up.
The only aspect of the Moxey interview that I found interesting was that he said the club was “not for sale”. Now that is something that requires closer inspection and I hope the local media delve a little deeper into that.
For the club to have any chance of moving forward, getting bigger and ultimately competing long-term at the top table, investment will be a necessity. It’s no longer a choice.
* It definitely happened. Probably.
Thanks to James for an entertaining read. Hopefully he can be persuaded to contribute again during the course of the season. He can be followed on Twitter @JamesFinbow
Good stuff James and not being a happy clapper or a perpetual misery that about sums up how I see it , there is a but though, I love the token idea but what I and a lot of fans don’t get is why use the most valuable token on a player Pritchard (all be it a very good one) that we do not desperately need and not on a goal scorer? With Hoolahan,Naysmith,Howson,Maddison all able to fill that roll …..yes maybe Pritchard is better but there are options in that position. ….not so much in the goalscoring department eh? so if your funds are limited and i agree they are then why spend 8 million on Pritchard and 2 million on Maddison? And yes yes yes they are and will be really good for us I think, but not essential at this time.For me it’s not Delia or Moxeys fault but more Alex Neils as he must have known what our resources are and he certainly knew what we needed so the question is why did he not use the money more wisely
In my book not a great article, with more unhelpful labelling of fans who you happen to disagree with. I don’t tweet at all let alone get in a lather over such things, but I don’t see how anyone can say that we didn’t have a poor window…..again!
Retaining Klose was the best bit of business we did and with that I believe no real recruitment of CB was necessary until we reach the PL again in which case we need at least two more upto the job.
However, to buy Pritchard and deplete our limited coffers on a player for a well stocked position when we ended up only getting the one on paper mediocre looking striker (On the basis of his previous scoring records in the UK) is plain silly.
Neil continually stated his desire for striker recruitment and it was clear that we required 2 with only Jerome available that Neil seems to trust in that position. Going after and bidding inxs of £10M for strikers certainly raised expectations and pointed to a priority, so naturally a relatively unproven £5M striker feels like a let down and like we really didn’t get what the manager really wanted.
I think; Canos, Nelson and Pritchard could all be good players for us, but it doesn’t mean they are what we really needed and what the manager really wanted.
Lets face it, if the window was a success, why were we reputedly courting Chamakh?….. Desperation?
Barring more injuries to Jerome or Klose I still feel positive about our prospects of promotion, because we do have quality in this squad. I just think with better more focused recruitment we could be favourites, rather than good prospects.
there you go, james ia another one debt cleared so not bothered about the future.
Martin (1), perhaps they thought a sale would be forthcoming, maybe Brady or Naismith, which would give them extra resources for the centre forward positions? They had no time to lose with Pritchard with him on his way to Brighton – I guess they had to just go for it. He’s a player the manager has shown huge admiration for, as have Norwich fans – he’s often been hailed as the potential successor to Wes. I think he was just too good to miss out on.
Melchett (2), the labelling of the fans is done by the fans themselves who chose to do that. I don’t agree with it but that’s what happens, hence it was mentioned. As I say, its playground stuff.
Chris (3), great stuff, thanks for your comment. Perhaps you should read the article all the way to the bottom though…
Melchett (2), I think the Pritchard deal was a 50/50 choice. Alex Neil is obviously a massive fan and said he’d tracked him for two years. They obviously left it till the very last minute and decided he was too good to ‘pass on’ and figured they rely on a sale for a new striker, or as occurred, go for a slightly cheaper one. In a way its good because we’ve ended up with two players rather than just one very expensive striker but equally, if Oliveira flops then it’s a very tough one to take. Time will tell, but Pritchard is a great little player – and Wes is getting no younger.
Ben K says
I would hazard a guess that by the end of the season Pritchard will be a very important player for us. There’s no need to rush him into the side but I agree with the above sentiment, or implication, that he was too good to pass on.
Like my namesake I see no point in arguing with entrenched Delia lovers. The modern day cult of the celebrity has invaded our club and many would sooner fail with Delia smith at the helm than succeed with another. Sneering on Twitter at fellow supporters does little to quell the current mood either.
Moxey clearly wants to impress his new employers and he was perhaps rather blunt in outlining the stark reality of what the Club can now afford to do in the transfer market.
The Smiths want to retain control within their family, but if in two seasons time the Club is still stuck in the Championship, and the parachute payments have ceased, they may be forced to reconsider…
Good article James, well written with some perspective. I think its worth noting that although Newcastle did spend substantially, they also had players leaving for big money that enabled them to buy players. The lack of outgoings from our squad meant that we have kept hold of our best talent, but it also clearly restricted the work we were able to do bringing players in.
Chris (7), simply saying ‘entrenched Delia lovers’ doesn’t form a coherent argument. No fan wants the club to fail! Tell us how protesting against her (and the rest of the board), and therefore forcing them to relinquish control, will benefit the football club? Who takes over?
It’s all very well saying ‘just get a billionaire owner’ – but weren’t they paying a company a fortune for two years, looking for outside investment, and found none?
When it happens, it’ll happen – and none of us will have any say on it, nor any idea if it’ll be a good or a bad thing. Hopefully it’ll be great and we move on to bigger and better things but there’s no guarantee.
So until then, at least there is a little stability and we’ve proven we can compete against clubs with greater resources with the status quo. We have a good squad (if a tad unbalanced) and a decent shout of promotion, so I’ll be getting behind the club.
Simon (9), Newcastle made a profit of nearly £30m I believe? They were very fortunate they were able to hoodwink clubs into buying some of their dross, especially at those extortionate prices! Not totally convinced by all their signings either but you’d still have to make them favourites for promotion.
Bruce Wallis says
What the Norwich fans suffer is constantly heightened expectations, punctuated by bitter and frustrating disappointment.
We are the current yo-yo club. Before us it was West Brom, then they get some money, and they consolidate themselves, and Norwich assume their discarded yo-yo mantle. Is it wrong for Norwich fans to hope for the same. No, I don’t think so.
There is a consensus that suggests that the Norwich board were almost criminally negligent this time last year in not strengthening the strikers and back 4. For whatever reason, and we’ll never really know the truth of that, that glaring short coming was not addressed at that time. Attempts were made in the New Year, but it was really too little too late.
The result was relegation, and McNally fell on his sword.
Expectations were yet again raised when Jez Moxey came in, and started with the brilliant hi-jacking of Pritchard from under Chris Hughtons nose,( that definitely went down well!)
After that, not a lot really
So if the fans are unhappy, it’s because of a possibly mismanaged belief that with a marquee striker, we would charge through the Championship this season and return to the top division next season.
Now the reception is that we have been reduced to the 2nd table that includes Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton, and, God Forbid, Ipswich
James, I certainly aren’t advocating demonstrations, we haven’t reached that stage……yet. I have, for years been antagonised by the decision making process, the mistakes, Hamilton? Gunn? Adams? The dithering with hughton and indeed worthington when ther removal was obviously needed urgently. To say nothing about the half time rant, the Europe wide search for Adams etc ad nauseum. It simply isn’t good enough to play the “we are poor millionaires” card, parading their inability to compete with most other owners without extrapolating that to its logical conclusion. Realising that they are holding the club back and actively seeking, as opposed to the current unfriendly stance to new ownership. If people can’t see that is spcommon sense then I’m sorry, there really is no point in arguing. It’s always been Norwich city for me, I don’t give a monkeys Fanny who the “owner” is, give me a win on Saturday afternoon and watch me smile,
Also, very interesting point about moxey acting to impress the boardroom. Coming out and laying into the support and fighting the boards corner in such a robust manner has alienated him from an already suspicious bulk of the clubs following. The initial noises from wolves don’t suggest a man of mcnallys dynamism, more likely a board enforcer, a man who is there to see through their wishes and policies. i for one was very disappointed when McNally left, but every relegation, and there have been many, sees somebody fall on their sword, it’s the modus operandi of these owners.
Not to worry Delia will soon see us back in League 1, the woman has been holding this football club back for years but i’m afraid the majority of the Norfolk population are to starstruck to see it .
Sooner her her other half and the nephew move on the better .
Dave B says
“No fan wants the club to fail!”
Hmm. I’m not sure that’s true. I think there are some fans that would rather see our club exist in the Championship with the current owners, than establish themselves in The Premiership with new ones.
I’m not suggesting new owners ensure Premiership status btw. Just that some people are so in love with the status quo at the club they’d rather stay as-is with what appears to be an ongoing stagnation, over change.
Phil (15 & Dave B (16), As I mention in the OP, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. You’ve taken an extreme view (Phil), the worst case scenario, or the most unambitious one at least. Fans wants success for their football club but some are more realistic than others in what is achievable at the moment.
What would be perfect is if a local billionaire fan bought the club but I think we all recognise that is never going to happen! So we’d take our chances on investment from elsewhere, probably from foreign shores.
For every Leicester there is a Blackburn. Cop out? Of course it isn’t! If you love your club you surely don’t want the Blackburn model!! Its a gamble. I like a gamble, others don’t, so why is it so unreasonable to question their support because they don’t want the worst case scenario themselves – something you’re doing by using Delia and co as your alternative version?
Any takeover can go wrong – Coventry are a club who historically have been of similar size and history to us. SISU have destroyed them. That would be a worse case scenario. Fans don’t want to see the heart and soul ripped out of their football club at any expense. A leap into the unknown can be exciting and terrifying – both traits are human nature. So its not because people like stagnation or are blinded by Delia and celebrity status – its because they have rational fears of what could change.
Eventually a change will happen – with the direction football has moved, most clubs will be taken over to be a rich persons play thing – its inevitable. Its the only way we will ever be able to compete in the future, there is no alternative, but its a toss of a coin (at the absolute best) whether we’d move forwards or end up despairing the change.
All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best when it does. As I say, it’ll be exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
Dave B says
” I like a gamble, others don’t, so why is it so unreasonable to question their support because they don’t want the worst case scenario themselves”
That’s odd logic to me. Changing owners is a gamble while keeping our own isn’t?
Let’s not forget the current owners have a history of almost running the club into the ground. So they’re not gamble free.
Many of us see the recent direction of the club in the last 3-4 years and think the football played, accompanying results, and overall professionalism at the club have been fast deteriorating.
– Unable to secure PL status (our original goal).
– No recruitment team for long periods leading to (1) a lack of defenders last season and attackers this season (2) some very poor signings.
– Neil Adams as coach (best in Europe!).
– Joe Kinnear, Mike Phelan, coming and going.
– Poor pre-seasons (local select team anyone).
– Players refunding away fans.
– An MD resigning by Tweet. Then un-resigning. Then resigning again.
The status quo is by no means gamble free.
Anyway, all fair points. My overall point is that as things stand – at this precise moment – changing ownership (which isn’t even an option as far as we know) is more of a gamble than keeping the status quo. We know financially we are stable. We know we have decent players. Continuity is not a bad thing. That’s all I’m saying.
And I should just clear up how I feel on the matter. I believe they should be actively searching for somebody to either invest or takeover the club. That is where I sit on the matter. I just don’t happen to have any problem with the current incumbents remaining in place for the short-to-medium term.
Dave B says
Oops, wrong Joe. I meant Joe Royle. Turned up, had no idea about the club or players. Made some odd statements. Left a month later. Was never replaced. Truly bizarre.