December 13 2013 Latest news:
by Steve Gedge
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
So another transfer window closes and in the real world – ie not an utter fantasy one in which clubs such as Fulham and Stoke can somehow manage to spend £10m and £12m on individual signings – we lose more of the players who, to a great or small degree, have assisted the Canaries in their rapid rise up the league ladder.
I thought getting rid of Anthony McNamee on a free transfer to MK Dons was, in the circumstances, a reasonably shrewd piece of business.
No transfer fee, but someone who wouldn’t have come cheap and also wasn’t part of Paul Lambert’s plans – his one major transfer failure, you might say – off the wage bill early.
And that also goes for Stephen Hughes, even if he did manage to score three times as many goals for Norwich as McNamee. (Or, put another way, three, as opposed to one.)
It’s rather a different situation with Oli Johnson, though. Having come from non-league via Stockport he can’t have exactly been among City’s big earners, so there appears to be a game of brinkmanship going on with Yeovil as to how big a transfer fee a club who began the season with a crowd of just 3,237 can afford.
You would have thought it won’t be much.
Johnson plainly has no future here, so it can’t be doing anyone any good to keep him here until the hope that someone might offer a few more quid in January.
Granted we’re talking about a club here who can no longer afford to let season-ticket holders into reserve games free, so every penny counts, but in any other sport surely sentiment would play a part?
Someone would look at the dramatic goals against Southend or setting up the winner against Brentford that took us to the top of League One and think that this had earned them a right to start afresh elsewhere.
Which brings us to Cody McDonald.
A good piece of business for the Canaries, certainly, and I hope he gets the chance of a decent run of games, because that was never going to happen here.
But, as a City fan, it does rather annoy me the perfunctory manner in which players are almost bundled out of the back door at great speed.
Granted, McDonald had committed that most heinous of footballing crimes – to have been signed by a previous manager – but we are talking here about a player who played a big part in one of our most dramatic wins of the last couple of years – the 2-1 midweek triumph on a gluepot of a pitch at Walsall.
Surely he at least deserved the “We’d like to thank X for his hard work while at the club and wish him all the best for his future career” kind of statement usually trotted out when someone sacks a manager.
But no, on the club website at least there was nothing to be seen.
I think there are times that everyone gets swept up in the moment. It’s all too easy to forget that all the players mentioned above have had a hand, however, small, in making sure that the Canaries have played in only one Johnstone’s Paint trophy campaign.
The likes of Michael Rose and Stephen Elliott might be long gone – while even Jon Otsemobor managed to score what was effectively the winner against Wycombe in Paul Lambert’s first home game in charge, but their efforts should not be consigned to history as we begin a four-week spell that will end with the Canaries playing in front of the biggest league crowd in their history at Old Trafford.
• TRIP TO BOLTON IS BETTER FOR THE SOUL
It’ll be interesting to see how the ticket sales pick up for the Bolton game over the next 10 days.
Unlike for the Wigan game you suspect there might be a slower, more steady stream of business at the box office.
A ground we’ve only visited once in a decade – and even then because it was an early-evening Sky-televised encounter there was one of the season’s lowest away followings – and I can’t imagine that any of the next 16 away tickets are going to be as cheap as £22, and yet you can’t help but think that the casual away fan will forego this one and instead save up their money for Old Trafford a fortnight later.
Which is a pity – and yet sums up the nature of the Premier League matchday experience built up by the relentless marketing machine over the past two decades; it’s all about the big names and occasions rather than the football.
Bolton is one of those more established Premier League venues you look at and wonder: “Could we maybe get something there?” (See also Blackburn, West Brom and Wolves.)
After all, it’s got to happen sometime. I don’t believe for one moment that we will go through this Premier League season without a single away victory.
It might very possibly come at the Reebok Stadium, but everything points to it definitely not occurring at Old Trafford.
Indeed, if you were offered, right now, the chance of a repeat of our last trip to Manchester United – a narrow 2-1 defeat and no injuries or further red cards – we’d probably all take it.
But Bolton, like Wigan before it, is, you suspect, much more our kind of venue than the Old Traffords or Stamford Bridges of this world.
On the back of the visit to Chelsea last week I must admit that at some point I’d like to go to a City away game at a big ground and sit among the home fans – just to see what the atmosphere is really like.
When you’re in the middle of a large travelling support you have no idea of the noise levels elsewhere in the ground, but I imagine that at Chelsea they weren’t great.
It was a totally soulless occasion.
You can dress up your stadium as much as you like – with banners proclaiming support for Chelsea in ‘alien’ territory such as Swindon and east Cornwall, not to mention large parts of Ireland, but it was a totally corporate occasion.
I expect Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal to be exactly the same – and all watched by a capacity 3,000 away area.