I know I shouldn’t harp on, but is anyone else a little envious of those teams for whom January is an opportunity to strengthen their squad?
When it’s those against whom you are battling to stay in the Premier League who are making signings it stings a bit.
Like the cool kids at school with rich parents who get new, even cooler trainers, even though their existing ones are pretty much pristine, while you have to soldier on with an already knackered pair because your parents insist on living within their means.
There’s no alternative (unless they decide to sell some family silver) and you know in the circumstances it’s the right approach but it still grates – doubly so when you come face-to-face with said cool kids and they’re poncing around in their new Jordans looking all super-cool and fluffed up, while you’re left feeling a bit cr.@p and untrendy.
On Friday night we go to Watford – the same Watford whose line-up will likely include three new signings.
It wouldn’t irk quite as much if City didn’t need some fresh faces, but when you’ve been bottom of the league for most of the season and have been continually derided for having a squad that is simply not good enough, you really do.
So far, Watford have coughed up a relatively modest £15million on those for signings but if one of those four has a positive impact on performances and results in the next few months, then Claudio Ranieri and Gino Pozzo will consider it dosh well spent.
And yet Dean Smith, manager of the worst team in the division yet which remarkably is not yet set adrift and which still has more than just a mathematical chance of survival, is not going to be permitted to make a single signing.
Smith, as you would expect of a new manager, has trotted out the official line of it being a squad that’s already bloated, but it’s a squad that’s bloated because it contains a lot of players who are nowhere near good enough to consistently play Premier League football.
Do we seriously think that Dean and Craig Shakespeare, if asked by Stuart Webber if they would like to be able to strengthen in two or three key areas would respond with a, “no, we’re fine, Stu, really happy to go with what we’ve got”.
Of course they wouldn’t.
Do we really think that in a private moment in Dean’s office, the pair of them won’t be mulling over how they could make this team better and the players, or type of player, it would take to do that?
Of course they do.
But no, in true Norwich City fashion, we soldier on, ploughing our own lone furrow… because we have no choice.
We sit tight, press our noses against the window and watch as others try to give themselves a better chance of staying up, while doing absolutely nothing… because we have no choice.
I’m guessing Dean and Shakey are okay with this, as Daniel Farke was before them, because that’s what they signed up to, but please don’t tell me they, also like Daniel before them, would have pooh-poohed the opportunity to spend a bit money or, in Dean and Shakey’s case, some money.
When human nature kicks in, being a have-not can be a source of frustration. And just because we’re used to it doesn’t mean we like it.
January is obviously a notoriously difficult month in which to trade and we know Webber’s thoughts on how it provides little by way of value for money – our winter transfer window of 2020 was a perfect example – but it does nevertheless offer the chance to those who need it to attempt to make their teams better.
I say attempt because every new signing comes loaded with peril but there are plenty of examples of those who have been able to get it right in January and who benefitted accordingly.
But we’re not even giving ourselves that chance.
I do understand though that our situation is such that spending big sums, even if we had them, may be an overly-costly and futile exercise, and also that it would have made no sense to hold back money from last summer’s pot to spend in January, yet last Saturday showed us that there is still some belief and fight in this group.
But before anyone accuses me of moaning for the sake of moaning, I do appreciate we’re in this position for all the right reasons – namely that we have no magic money tree – but it just feels a little wrong that while others take every opportunity to make themselves better, one of the routes available to those others is closed off to Norwich City.
Like I said, it’s not [in the words of a ruddy-faced Scot] as if this group couldn’t go with some help.
I’ll shush now. Just needed to get that off my chest.
Hopefully, what we have will prove to be good enough and my whining will (again) be rendered nonsensical.