David Hannant: City’s January 25-ers could prove a holy trinity this season
PUBLISHED: 09:04 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:07 09 August 2018
JASON DAWSON ©Jason Dawson
January 25, 2018. Remember the date.
Detailed research (okay, not detailed, a quick look on a certain web encyclopaedia) tells me it was the day the Doomsday Clock was reset for the first time since the 1950s.
It was also the day this paper reported on singer Elton John announcing his retirement from touring after a zillion years.
However, neither of these things are the reason I’m judging this to be a pivotal date in Norwich City’s season - no matter how often being a Canaries fan can create a desire for the end of days to arrive.
On this date in Norwich City history, the club enjoyed the most productive day in the transfer market of Daniel Farke’s tenure.
Three players all signed on the dotted line this day - two of whom combined for City’s late leveller on Saturday, Dennis Srbeny and Onel Hernandez.
The third of these was the loan of a certain Moritz Leitner.
So frequently we are too quick to judge January arrivals on their immediate impact.
Very occasionally, you do get a Dean Ashton type, who arrives, immediately starts pulling up trees and leaves you dreaming of what could have been had he arrived in the summer. However, more often than not, the lack of the bedding in period of grace pre-season offers proves costly.
And then, that player is facing a constant uphill battle to win over those fans who have already made up their minds on them.
Without racking my brains too much I can certainly think of a January arrivals whose City careers have never really taken off - Steven Naismith, Yanic Wildschut and Tony Andreu spring to mind.
It therefore goes without saying that it is far more difficult for players to arrive in the January transfer window.
Add to this, the challenge of settling in to an entire new country with different customs, cultures and play styles and it becomes abundantly clear how much of a task the January 25 trio were facing last term.
However, the final 15 minutes of Saturday’s curtain-raiser at Birmingham have got me thinking just how important this date could be in City’s season.
Of course, with his late brace, Onel Hernandez has hogged all of the headlines, and rightfully so, he looked a real livewire and could even have had a hat-trick.
However, the impact Dennis Srbeny had on his introduction must also not be understated.
In 15 minutes he completed more successful dribbles than any other man on the field - not a skill you associate with a towering striker - and despite falling over in the process managed to lay a dream through ball to tee up his fellow January 25-er.
Last season I wrote a piece about Srbeny in which I put my faith in him to kick on in City colours and his brief cameo filled me with similar optimism.
The way he was used also has me wondering whether there is scope to use him in a deeper role and form quite a tantalising partnership with Jordan Rhodes.
Hernandez is another one who last season I saw promise on, but not much else in all honestly, at least as far as end product goes.
However, he looked on another level against Birmingham and came away with two goals to show for it. On more than one occasion he found himself in good space and used it - if this continues he’ll be a key - if not the key - player in City’s campaign.
And then we come to the third January 25er - who I’m also backing to have a big, big influence on how the season goes.
Unlike Hernandez and Srbeny, Leitner arrived with a bit more expectation on his shoulders, with names on his CV far bigger than Norwich City.
And also unlike Hernandez and Srbeny, the times he did play last season, he looked less in need of a settling-in period.
While I’m not going to go as far as saying that without his injury setback the season could’ve been totally different, but at the very least I’d have fancied a top ten finish.
In honest, I was surprised he didn’t start on Saturday - I was fully expecting him to be one of the first names on Daniel Farke’s team sheet for the campaign.
Nonetheless, I still see Leitner proving one of City’s biggest creative outlets this season, particularly if he’s treated as something of a focal point.
While he won’t bring as many goals as James Maddison did last season, often last season we saw the pair trying to occupy the same space on the field. With the reins off him somewhat, he could fly.
When the three arrived, I had half a feeling at least Hernandez and Srbeny were signings made very much with this term in mind.
Now, I think we may well reap the benefits of such meticulous forward planning. OTBC.
What a summer that was
Anybody who has read this column in the past will probably know where I stand on club versus country.
I always have been and always will be a Norwich City fan before an England fan, and in all honesty, over the last few years I’d fallen out of love with the national team.
This summer, that all changed.
I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but 2018 will always be the summer I fell back in love with international football.
Part of that probably was all the ‘It’s Coming Home’ patter - the brilliantly British breed of self-depricating humour which inadvertently had us all kind of believing it would actually happen, after saying it ironically for so long.
However, an equally big part of it was the fact that - for once - there seemed to be a bit of unity about the national squad. They were a team, rather than a collection of very good players who look as though they couldn’t tell each other from Adam.
Long may this continue - It’s Coming Home!
Let’s make Norfolk Day 2018, Wes Day
I’m still mourning Wes Hoolahan’s exit - let’s be honest, I always will be.
His photo is still on my desk and he has been stuck over at least one player on my NCFC calendar every month since.
I’ve made no secret of my love for the midfield maestro and will never forget what he brought to the table.
The farewell he received was perfect in every single way, right down to the result.
However, there was one obvious thing missing - the Westimonial he deserves.
Obviously, I understand why it couldn’t happen this year, but when fate closes a door it opens a window.
This summer, we enjoyed the very first Norfolk Day - a day for celebrating everything we love about Norfolk.
For me, there are few things I have loved more about Norfolk than being able to watch Wes Hoolahan do his thing at Carrow Road.
Next year, Norfolk Day is on a Saturday - surely the perfect opportunity to see him one last time. So how about it NCFC? Let’s made Norfolk Day, 2018 also Wes Day!