Chris Goreham: City need to find more Pukkis...and they’ve shown they’re out there
PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 October 2018
The best things in life are free, or so they say. It’s a sentiment that certainly rings true with Norwich City supporters after Teemu Pukki’s flying start to the season.
It’s been a long time since the Canaries had such an in-form centre forward. He has already become enough of a Carrow Road cult hero that many City fans had half an eye on the clash between Finland and Estonia on Friday night and the glee which greeted news of Pukki’s stoppage time winner from those of a yellow and green persuasion on social media underlines how quickly he has been welcomed into the warm bosom of The Barclay.
Pukki was recently described by Colin Murray, the presenter of the Football League highlights show, as “The first Nations League legend” after his heroics for Finland in the previous international break during which he scored winning goals against Estonia and Hungary. That little nugget made finding the appropriately named Quest TV, where Murray’s show now resides, worth the effort.
The most remarkable thing about Pukki and his purple patch is that Norwich City managed to pick him up on a free transfer. I am not naïve enough to think that the lack of a financial outlay stretches to the striker’s weekly wage but given the number of big money Norwich City signings who have failed to cash the sizeable cheques that have been handed over in their honour, Pukki isn’t just a decent goalscorer but a beacon of hope for Canaries fans in terms of what the future could hold.
When his arrival was announced on a Saturday afternoon in the summer it came out of the blue. Slap bang in the middle of the World Cup, it didn’t generate a huge amount of excitement from City supporters who, at best, could just about remember him playing for Celtic. A prolific few years for Brondby in the Danish top flight hadn’t really registered in Norfolk.
With Norwich City struggling for goals last season and then selling their top goalscorers in the summer it was difficult to foresee them improving as an attacking force in the way that they undoubtedly have.
Despite failing to score against Stoke City last time out, Daniel Farke’s team have managed 15 league goals already this season. It took them until November 4th and a late consolation in a 2-1 defeat at Bolton to reach that figure last season and that was a squad which still contained James Maddison and Josh Murphy before their big money Premier League moves.
The fact is that money is no guarantee of success in the Championship. It can help, as Wolves proved last season, but only if it’s spent wisely. There are countless examples of clubs spending dizzying amounts of cash in an attempt to get out of the division and achieving that goal by dropping into League One.
By contrast Norwich City’s best seasons at this level have often been the ones which have started with low expectations.
Most of the club’s successes in the transfer market over the years have been the ones plucked from the lower leagues or relative obscurity and with some promising youngsters now graduating from academy to first team on a more consistent basis there is hope that the model of developing and then selling players for a profit can work. As long as there is a genuine plan to replace those that have to leave.
To attack the Championship in this way clubs need to, without wishing to sound like a cheesy radio commercial for a discount shopping centre, find the best talent at every day prices.
Norwich City are going to need a few more Teemu Pukkis in years to come but at least we now know they are out there.
Piece of cake
It was a case of poacher turned game keeper last week when I was invited to be a guest on the Talk Norwich City podcast.
As someone used to asking the questions it was strange to see a Tweet go out asking the podcast’s followers whether they had anything to ask me. I carefully crafted some opinions and pithy things to say about the Championship, all things Norwich City and the big breaking news story about the departure of Steve Stone from his role as the club’s managing director. I needn’t have bothered.
The great thing about throwing out a plea for questions is that audiences tend not to want to know about the things you always assumed they did.
Football, as is often the case, played second fiddle to food as I was asked how many different motorway service stations I could name in 30 seconds and which club provides the best hospitality for the press.
The latter is a subject that I have always been careful not to write or talk about too often knowing that us la-di-dah media types are pretty fortunate to be catered for at grounds when supporters, who have travelled just as far as us and not been paid for the privilege, then have to fork out again for often average fayre at the kiosks. It feels a bit like rubbing their noses in it if we bang on about the full roast dinner on offer at Villa Park, the banquets at Chelsea and Arsenal which are like the buffets served at 5-Star hotels (I imagine, having never stayed in one) or the pleasing cottage pie at, you’ve guessed it, Craven Cottage.
To redress the balance, not all grounds are so welcoming and it’s certainly not all fine wines and Belgian chocolates. My colleague Rob Butler still won’t let me forget about the time I fetched him an emergency muffin from the press room at a ground that I had better not name to help his blood sugars rise sufficiently to deal with the demands of The Canary Call phone-in after an away defeat. It was only when he bit into it, just moments before taking the first irate call, that it became apparent this cake had probably been laying around since the previous season. Let’s just say it was more Clattenburg than Battenburg.