So long Ricky and Vadis - casualties of transfer roulette at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 10:52 11 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:53 11 August 2016
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The discreet exits of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe illustrate the pitfalls of dabbling in the transfer market.
Both slipped away almost unnoticed and with a fraction of the fanfare that accompanied their arrival at Carrow Road.
The Dutchman’s signing was a ground-breaking, era-defining piece of business that signalled a new phase in the club’s evolution from an occasional Premier League squatter to permanent dweller.
Sadly the intervening seasons failed to work out quite as intended for either van Wolfswinkel or the club that lavished a record fee on a frontman who has now returned to the more tranquil waters of Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie. That sublime headed goal on his Premier League debut in a 2-2 home draw against Everton was a tantalising glimpse of the fearsome predator who was prolific in Portugal and in his youth coveted by Manchester United.
Odjidja-Ofoe was touted as Leroy Fer’s replacement. A colossus of a man to roam unobstructed across central midfield yet possessing the balletic quality that earned him a call-up to the Belgian international side. Perhaps there was a portent of things to come when he damaged knee ligaments on his Championship debut. The man with the double-barrelled moniker was forever striving to catch up until he finally ran out of road.
Like van Wolfswinkel there was the fleeting episode, such as the trick and the cut-back to set-up Alex Tettey for a Premier League winner against Southampton last Christmas. Neil sanctioned the departures of both in recent days and while there are some who may retain an emotional attachment and mourn over what might have been few can argue either would have made a lasting impression in the months ahead.
There have been other misses rather than hits at Norwich, just as elsewhere across professional football. That is the nature of the transfer market. For all the fashionable use of data and statistical analysis it remains an inexact science.
Norwich’s summer recruitment so far looks, at face value, to be astute business.
Nathan Redmond departed for a club-record fee approaching the final year of his current deal and seemingly reluctant to sign a new one. Michael McGovern and Paul Jones arrived on frees and McGovern, in particular, will offer stern competition to John Ruddy given the heights he scaled for Northern Ire land at Euro 2016.
Sergi Canos and Alex Pritchard were signed from powerhouse clubs with burgeoning reputations and long careers ahead of them. But there are still no guarantees.
Neil wants strikers, the Norwich fans want strikers, but finding the right players at the right price in such a competitive environment is only half the battle. Once inside the building there are so many other imponderables which dictate whether you turn out to be a Grant Holt or a van Wolfswinkel, a Wes Hoolahan rather than Odjidja-Ofoe.
That is why Neil’s public backing of Cameron Jerome after his goalscoring display in the Championship opener at Blackburn serves another purpose. His manager knows he needs more bodies at the top end of the pitch to help carry the load but equally realises Jerome will deliver in the second tier.
For the here and now and what lies ahead over the coming months Jerome is a proven performer, a course and distance specialist in a team that will create a plentiful supply of chances. As much as the failed Ross McCormack chase set the pulse racing and raised the sense of anticipation there is a reassuring comfort from the fact Norwich’s squad already contains men like Jerome, Hoolahan, Jonny Howson and Tettey to help plot a steady course.