Robin Sainty: Are Canaries setting a trend when it comes to spending?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 August 2019 | UPDATED: 20:40 10 August 2019
While it hardly seems five minutes since that glorious afternoon at Villa Park, the summer’s transfer dealings suggest that, outside the money-bloated world of the Premier League at least, there is real change going on in the game, with Norwich City the main catalysts.
With Bury and Bolton flirting with oblivion and Birmingham still smarting over last season's points deduction, there seems to be a significant shift in the approach some clubs are taking in their search for success.
Even the new boss of perennial big spenders Derby talked about the need to develop youngsters before signing an ageing Wayne Rooney for £100k a week, but elsewhere others really are changing their approach.
Last summer, Championship clubs spent a combined £201m on players, yet as we near this year's transfer deadline the total is some £70m lower with some yet to spend a penny on permanent signings.
City seem to have started a revolution last season that may yet see the game move to a more sustainable model, although, as the Football 365 website points out, it's not something readily accepted by all fans: "This is all bad news for those supporters who define the success of their team's summer by the number of players signed, a very real obsession for some that can be judged in the countless replies to journalists asking for precious news on potential arrivals. This is the culture of 'just three more'."
Clearly anyone of that viewpoint will be aghast at City's summer dealings and inevitably the pundits have been queuing up to patronise and dismiss the Canaries as relegation certainties because they have had the temerity to stick with their template in the top division.
Last season's title win was based on team spirit and quality young players totally buying into the manager's system with the thinking underpinning it being to only bring players in if they both shared the club's ethos and, crucially, were better than what was already available.
Whilst this summer may not have seen much in the way of numbers coming into the first team squad, although there has been a steady stream of promising youngsters at development squad level, everyone who has arrived is a significant upgrade on the player that they have replaced, and in Patrick Roberts, City may well have found another gem in the Emi Buendia mould.
Of course, this in no way guarantees that City will survive, but I feel much more confident about the chances of a young, developing and focused squad containing real flair and quality than the ageing journeymen of three seasons ago.
The fact that City have tied the key players in that squad to longer term contracts is just as valuable as signing players who may or may not fit in, given that City don't have a huge budget at their disposal and looking at the probable market value of the likes of Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and Co.
Frankly I'd rather stick with proven quality than take an expensive punt on another Steven Naismith or Robbie Brady.
While it may appear that City haven't spent much this summer there has been significant outlay in making Colney state of the art and bringing Carrow Road up to Premier League requirements as well as the major cost of the new contracts, all of which will benefit the club in the long term.
However, the fans will justifiably expect to see City competing on the pitch and there is no reason why they shouldn't do so.
Last time the club were in the Premier League defensive frailties were exacerbated by a struggle to score goals, and whilst the former will once again be a concern this time, although the arrival of Ibrahim Amadou will help in that respect, City have infinitely more attacking flair this time.
It's going to be a fascinating season and I for one can't wait!
Where will City finish? 16th
Who will win the title? Manchester City
Who will go down? Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Newcastle