The signing of Jack Stacey on a free from Bournemouth wasn’t one to get the pulse racing but neither was it one to get hot under the collar over.
It’s one of those that, on the face of it, looks logical enough given that Sam Byram has already departed and Max Aarons seems almost certain to follow. Stacey will not have made this career move if he didn’t believe that right-back berth is his.
At 27-years-of-age, he is theoretically reaching the peak of his powers and age-wise is in that category that Stuart Webber identified as being important to this in-transition group of players – neither classed as one for the future nor a 30-plus veteran in the Ashley Barnes mould.
As ever, only time will tell if Stacey becomes one of Stuart Webber’s rare domestic successes or is another in a long line of Ben Marshalls, Marley Watkins’, and James Husbands.
Either way, we can only wish him well and hope that he’ll turn out to be the second of many new faces to come in and give this ailing squad a new look and feel.
Stacey certainly comes with a decent CV if you’re looking for a competent Championship fullback and departed Bournemouth with some glowing words from Gary O’Neil:
“An incredible guy. To have to just play the small part that he has recently and to still be how he is around the group and to still be how he is in training, I’ve never seen a second from him where he hasn’t been 100 percent professional, 100 percent committed, 100 percent putting the group above himself.
“You’ll never catch me saying a bad word about Jack Stacey. I think he’s an incredible professional.”
So he’s a player who appears to fall within the framework of Webber’s ‘no dickhead’ policy, although it’s unknown whether that particular mantra has been officially dispensed with in the same way as ‘ignore the noise’.
At this juncture, I also expected to be penning a few words on the qualities of Shane Duffy and the perceived wisdom of signing an experienced, international centre-back given that, among other things, Grant Hanley is not expected to recover properly from his ruptured Achilles until 2024.
But no. At least not yet.
A week ago it appeared nailed on that his arrival would be confirmed, with newspapers in England and Ireland reporting that the deal was all but done. But, given that Duffy didn’t sign a permanent deal at Fulham until 1 February 2023, there will possibly be a small fee involved, so maybe that’s the sticking point.
Perhaps, and pure speculation on my part, the Club is relying on the sale of one or more of our saleable assets – we’re obviously talking Max Aarons, Andrew Omobamidele and, possibly, Gabriel Sara – before we can think about bringing in new players for a fee.
[I’ve since been informed that Duffy’s deal with Fulham was only short-term and may end on July 1].
Either way, it’s not ideal that, as a general rule, we have to sell to buy but that is precisely where we are right now, and have been for the duration of the tenure of Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones.
We scrape by.
That the scraping by looks set to continue even under the Attanasios is disappointing but at least then there looks to be scope to draw on finances befitting a Club that wants to be part of the Premier League.
Again, speculation on my part, which is all we have given the legal obligation of those involved in the deal to say nothing until it’s completed.
Finally, I just wanted to mention yesterday’s FA Cup Final for which, on the face of it, there was much to love. A Saturday afternoon 3pm kick-off, the game covered by both BBC and ITV, no other games being played at the same time – in many ways, a throwback to Cup Finals of yesteryear.
All that was missing was a whole day’s TV dedicated to the game that included live links and interviews to their respective hotels in the morning, Cup Final It’s a Knockout around lunchtime, an hour-long The Route to Wembley and then reporters travelling on the team busses en route to Wembley.
It then wouldn’t have been complete without the post-match interviews taking place with the winning team supping from bottles of fresh milk.
But, alas, all it had in common with those days gone by was the kick-off time and who was covering it.
The game itself was okay, City deserved the win, United were meh, but, for me, the whole thing served as yet another gigantic reminder that Norwich City, and most clubs of our ilk, stand not a cat in hell’s chance of ever being part of that day.
Wigan and Leicester fans will no doubt remind me of their respective (and outstanding) achievements, but they appear very much outliers in a competition that was once for everybody but is now there to be won by the filthy rich – aka the Big Six plus Newcastle United.
And the worst thing about that? The fact we’ll never ever be in a position to push back when reminded of a certain Wembley victory in 1978.
The magic of the Cup, eh?