Chris Goreham: This season’s Youssouf Mulumbu Trophy goes to...
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The transfer window has only just closed but Norwich City‘s business during January may offer some clues as to who they might target in the summer.
For fans of nominative determinism the capture of midfielder Melvin Sitti was very pleasing.
How frustrating it must have been for the newspaper headline writing community when Sitti's arrival at City was swiftly followed by the news that he was being loaned back to Sochaux for the rest of the season. The ocean of puns will not be able to be tapped into the open goal that awaits until August at the earliest.
The Canaries' recruitment team has built a good reputation on the foundations of signing Teemu Pukki on a free transfer and bringing Emi Buendia to England. Now, if they are truly worth their salt, they must spring into action again.
Don't be surprised to see Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo arrive at Carrow Road in the summer followed by a German defender called Oliver Winnerl who currently plays for amateur side FC Kunzing.
If Stuart Webber could then get deals over the line to sign Spurs and England defender Eric Dier, Tranmere's Manny Monthe and the QPR centre back Dominic Ball Norwich City's rebuild would be complete even if players like Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey attract big money bids from elsewhere.
If the above plan of action is successful Norwich City could start next season with a mouth-watering defensive unit of Bravo, Winnerl, Dier, Monthe, Ball, Sitti. How satisfying would that be? I imagine that Webber demands his scouting network does a more thorough job than simply finding players with names that might fit into Carrow Road's much-loved anthem.
Recruiting the right new signings is never straight forward as Ibrahim Amadou's curious Canary career underlined. With Norwich City looking rather too open for comfort in pre-season there were calls to bring in a player who could fulfil the Alex Tettey role whenever Alex Tettey wasn't available. Amadou appeared to tick all of the boxes and, to the untrained eye, seemed a solid loan signing from Sevilla in the summer.
He was perhaps the biggest victim of City's autumn injury crisis without getting hurt. When Timm Klose, Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann all broke down in quick succession Amadou was forced to play the bulk of the opening months of the season as an emergency centre back.
It can't have been easy for him in a new country but when Daniel Farke finally gave him a chance to play in his favoured position against Arsenal and Southampton in December he lasted a game and a half. Amadou's last meaningful Premier League appearance was being hauled off at half-time with Norwich 2-0 down at St Mary's. Farke has recently said that Amadou's best performances for the club were as a defender.
On came the trusty Tettey, leaving Amadou as this season's winner of the Youssouf Mulumbu Trophy. It's a fictional award handed out to the series of holding midfielders that have tried to displace Tettey since his arrival in 2012. See also Gary O'Neil.
Injury permitting, Tettey will probably pass 100 Premier League appearances for the Canaries this season which is an impressive achievement. It's interesting that finding someone who breaks up opposition attacks as reliably as he does has proved so difficult for City in recent years.
Is it because of the job he does? Football is obsessed with statistics about goals, expected goals, saves and clearances. When Tettey is at his best none of those things happen. There's no shot at goal, the goalkeeper doesn't have to make a save and no defender needs to clear the ball away. He just has a knack of being in the right place at the right time.
It's hard to quantify what hasn't happened. It's a bit like specialist wicket keepers in cricket. Dot balls often don't do justice to the runs they actually save. Perhaps holding midfielder is the one position that still relies more on old fashioned scouting and gut feeling.
Maybe that's how they found a certain 19-year-old at Sochaux. He might just turn out to be a Fine Sitti.