My secondary school made us do orienteering, which involved being sent out in pairs with one map, one compass and a mission to find about a dozen *targets* as quickly as possible in a strange land known as Epping Forest.
But if I thought orienteering was mind-boggling [I did, I was pretty poor at it] that was nothing compared to trying to come to terms with the sheer extent and diversity of Norwich City’s youth recruitment policy.
With the media focus being largely on the wonderful Mr Webber on Thursday it nearly slipped under the radar that City have signed 17-year-old Kenny Coker from Southend United. Young Kenny has already played five times for the Shrimpers and he apparently impressed Steve Weaver and others so much during a trial that it became a case of from the National League to a Premier League Academy in one fell swoop.
This prompted me to take a look at recent similar signings from wherever the scouting team have cast their net and the first thing that struck me is just how many there have been – and how difficult they are to keep track of.
Sam McCallum, loaned to Coventry for basically the last two seasons, is temporarily back in the fold. He might become Dimitris Giannoulis’ understudy, he might yet be sold on and I suppose he might be loaned out again, but surely not to Cov for a third time.
Daniel Adshead played several first team games for Rochdale and spent this season with Telstar in Holland. Akin Famewo was part of the Charlton squad that narrowly missed out on the playoffs while Rocky Bushiri and Danel Sinani have enjoyed loan spells in Belgium.
Taking a look at other members of what I will loosely describe as the Under-23s, the list of loan outs is longer than a wet weekend in Walcott, and of course, some of these have enjoyed more success than others.
Keepers Archie Mair and Joe Rose, Jordan Thomas, Aidan Fitzpatrick, William Hondermarck and Isak Thorvaldsson all fall into this category. So does Tyrese Omotoye who also managed to get a few first-team minutes during our November injury crisis and let nobody down when he did – I’ll always remember him calculatedly running the ball into the corner to run the clock down against somebody or other. I’m sure one of our readers might recall our opposition that day but I can’t I’m afraid.
Fellow striker Tom Dickson-Peters also made the bench during the *crisis* but wasn’t loaned out, something he has in common with Matthew Dennis who arrived from Arsenal at the same time Bali Mumba joined from Sunderland. Bali and Josh Martin made such an impact against Swansea that it’s difficult to imagine either going out on loan next season. Let’s add the excellent Andrew Omobamidele to that list as well. Caveat: if any of that trio are loaned out it will only mean we have recruited better squad players.
So either way we really can’t lose, can we?
I cannot predict what the future holds for any of these youngsters apart from Omobamidele and Mumba, who have already walked the walk; the former for eight matches during which he was only duffed up once, ironically by Carlton Morris against Barnsley.
But if we hadn’t invested in them, brought them through the Academy or sent them straight out on suitable loans we’d still potentially be stuck with a bunch of elderly stiffs walking around with the butt-ache while still cheerfully drawing their wages.
Louis Thompson is still our player, but at 26 I would imagine he will remain at MK Dons.
Timm Klose and Tom Trybull remain on our books. Good lads both, but neither will play for us again. Hopefully, Basel will bite on Timm and Tommy T will remain with Blackburn or find a club elsewhere that deserves him.
Moritz the mercenary will no doubt run around a field in the Rhineland Palatinate or somewhere for a further 12 months as his career disintegrates before his very eyes. Josip Drmic? Maybe HNK Rijeka in Croatia will take a liking to him and he to them. I hope so.
Anyway this serves to show the depth and breadth of our recruitment strategy post-Webber. It’s maybe a bit cynical to couch it in these terms but if one in ten of these recruits *makes it* with us and the others receive a good enough schooling to easily find other clubs then our scouts and the Academy are truly doing a fantastic job.
Now before you good readers say: *he’s forgotten something, he always does* my mate Bernie mailed me last week to ask what has happened to Sinani and Sebastian Soto. Sinani, sure, but…
Soto is that he was either called back from or returned by Telstar in Holland in January to rejoin the Under 23s. The American international has played a handful of games for the Under-23s but has been ruled out recently because of injury.
That’s all my limited orienteering knowledge can help me with – so if anybody knows more, give us a shout.
All at MFW [and probably everybody in the county of Norfolk and many folks beyond] would like to congratulate Emi Buendia on his call-up to the Argentina squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Columbia and Chile.