There’s well under a month to go now before the curtain is raised on the EFL Championship season of 2023-24, surely one where the huge number of Norwich City supporters that consider themselves to occupy the middle ground of expectation probably aren’t anticipating the current squad to pull up too many trees.
Not for the first time on MFW I must declare that I believe in omens, and the one that appeared in the media on Saturday afternoon as soon as our squad to take on Kings Lynn at The Walks had been announced might well serve as a harbinger of doom or a kick in the nuts, depending on your choice of phraseology of course.***
Yes, I’m talking about the ankle ligament injury picked up in training by new Spanish wideman Borja Sainz on Friday.
It’s so ironic, this one. Sainz has yet to feature in a Yellow shirt and picks up a nasty one. In training. At Colney.
We’ve been here a few times during pre-season recently, have we not?
David Wagner confirmed that his charge will spend a significant spell on the sidelines, most likely until around Hallowe’en:
“Unfortunately it is a serious one. In the second session yesterday he [acquired] a serious ligament injury in his ankle. He will be out until October. The first serious injury of his career.
“It is a blow for all of us. Especially for him. He was very sad and we support him as good as we can. He really impressed in the first two days of training. Now we have to take it on the chin, work with it, and make sure we can support him to come back as strong as he can.”
Following Daniel Farke’s appointment as head coach at Leeds this time last week and the rumblings surrounding the future of Stuart Webber, it is no great surprise that Elland Road is MFW’s next port of call as much-respected keeper coach Ed Wootten is heading to Yorkshire to join the Mighty Whites [their oft-used terminology, not mine].
Our new recruit to replace Wootten is not officially in the house, but for what it’s worth Paul Clements, who once worked alongside David Wagner at Huddersfield Town, might as well be in the kitchen right now, making himself a cup of tea.
Wagner himself was coy, saying: “We have a replacement lined up [for Wootten] and I’m quite confident he will be with us when we go to Germany.”
That makes a pretty large contingent of ex-Terriers at Colney now, with Wagner’s number two Christoph Bühler, new first-team coach Narcis Pelach and established first-team coach Andrew Hughes all having strong Huddersfield connections to a man. As does Webber himself of course.
The departure of Wootten leaves assistant sporting director Neil Adams as the only senior member of the football department never to have been employed by the Terriers!
In case you’ve lost count – and I nearly did as I watched the unlikely pairing of Chris Woakes and Mark Wood get us over the line to keep The Ashes series alive at Headingly [yet another Leeds reference I’m afraid] the following will constitute the head honchos of our Football Department from an as yet undefined day later this week:
- Sporting Director: Stuart Webber, ex-Huddersfield Town;
- Assistant Sporting Director: Neil Adams, no management experience anywhere but Norwich City;
- Assistant Head Coach: Christoph Bühler, ex-Huddersfield Town;
- First-Team Coach: Narcis Pelach,ex-Huddersfield Town;
- First Team Coach: Andrew Hughes,ex-Huddersfield Town;
- Goalkeeping Coach: Paul Clements, ex-Huddersfield Town.
This led posse member Alex B to state on Gary’s article yesterday [thanks for all your kind comments by the way, we really appreciated them] that with Webber possibly about to join Leeds and all the to-ing and froing between us and Huddersfield that he has nightmares about Leigh Bromby becoming our next Sporting Director!
Let’s hope this is indeed the stuff of nightmares and doesn’t enter the world of reality, as a quick look at the reaction of Terriers fans to Bromby’s departure from their club last month on Yorkshire Live showed – the three that follow are representative of a large-ish selection:
- Yorkie Proud: “Useless lump.”
- Brinko: “He came across as a very arrogant figure who thought he was god’s gift to football“
- RR_: “I don’t think anyone could have come back from appointing Fotheringham in the situation we were in.”
Before we escape from Leeds for a while [no sniggering at the back please], Alex had a cameo in his nightmare of Angus Gunn rejoining Farke now and Webber later at Elland Road.
I believe there’s more chance of Bromby fetching up here than Angus at Leeds, although Scotland manager Steve Clarke might have borrowed a stepladder and whispered in the latter’s ear that all internationals should be in the Premier League and he might care to consider whether Leeds have a better chance of achieving promotion than we do. Intervention such as this is not always helpful, of course.
Some good news released by NCFC Official during the week concerned the Academy.
Waylon Renecke, Michael Reindorf, and Dubem Eze all signed professional contracts, while City also bolstered its Academy options with three new signings, as well as announcing players being signed as scholars for the 2023-24 season as Charlie Wilson arrives from Everton, Aidan Manning joins from Watford and goalkeeper Ellis Craven signs following his departure from Rochdale.
Academy goalkeepers Joe Rose and Jayden St Paul also signed extensions to remain at the club, which took on 12 scholars as well.
Next up is one I feel won’t amount to anything – Watford and Norwich City are both interested in signing Sporting Lisbon wideman Rafael Camacho this summer, claims Football League World‘s Chris Gallagher. Fair enough Chris, but it’s not gonna happen.
So now it’s quickly on to two of those players who left us during the close season.
MFW readers will not be surprised to discover that Teemu Pukki has been described as “the biggest signing in Minnesota United’s history” after being officially unveiled at the MLS club. No offence to his fellow Huuhkajat compatriot Robin Lod, that soubriquet belongs to our Teemu on merit!
And released Norwich City midfielder Danel Sinani has a new club after agreeing to join German second-tier side St. Pauli.
Danel joins a growing contingent of former City players in 2.Bundesliga including Dennis Srbeny, Marcel Franke, and Philip Heise.
A current City player enjoying a move, this time a season-long loan, is young keeper Archie Mair. The hero of Notts County’s play-off final win over Chesterfield that ensured the “other” Magpies’ promotion to EFL League Two returns to the Vanarama National League, this time with Gateshead.
Setting off on a vacation that is as overdue as it is thoroughly well-deserved is Young Lions hero Max Aarons as England Under-21 became EURO2023 Champions after an incident-packed 1-0 win over their Spanish counterparts in host nation Georgia’s Batumi Stadium on Saturday.
A goal from Liverpool’s Curtis Jones in the first half was enough to secure England victory, but James Trafford of Manchester City was the hero of the day, saving a penalty and its follow-up in he ninth minute of injury time!
Aarons helped his national side go all five games without conceding during the competition, ending with 26 caps which puts him equal with former City star Nathan Redmond. Only suspension from the semi-final kept him from surpassing Redmond.
This week’s Martin’s Close Season Quote of the Week is actually won by a media outlet this time around, courtesy of Tom Gott‘s preview of the very match that made our Max a hero. Take it away, Tom:
“England will seek to win their first European Under-21 Championship since 1984 when they butt heads with Spain, the most successful side in the tournament’s history, on Saturday.”
Terry Butcher and Miguel Nadal flicking the coin for ends would have got the game underway in a quite spectacular fashion back in the day.
*** City ran out easy winners at The Walks, with Ashley Barnes scoring a hat-trick and Josh Sargent, Tony Springett, and Sam McCallum finding the net as well. Some 2,397 supporters attended the match, which was a sweetener for Lynn in defeat.
The fully fit-again Jon Rowe said afterwards: “I worked really hard in the off-season, achieving targets I wanted to achieve. I wanted to come back in the best possible condition, especially after last season. Being healthy is the main thing.”
Wagner added “It was difficult circumstances, in terms of the pitch and the heat, but they took that on the chin and that was great to see for me. You have to do your work, and that’s what they did.”
To repay Mr Andrew Delf for his particularly appreciated comment on Gary’s piece yesterday, and as it describes exactly how Messrs Butcher and Nadal might have felt after their brief encounter, I offer you this.
Any readers who do not believe a Fender Stratocaster can fly, prepare to be converted: