City's future is in safest hands
CHRIS LAKEY It was one that Bryan Gunn admits he didn't see coming, a bolt out of the blue that caught the Canaries goalkeeping legend flat-footed. It wasn't a 30-yard curler or a point blank header - it was an offer from Canaries boss Peter Grant that Gunn couldn't turn down.
It was one that Bryan Gunn admits he didn't see coming, a bolt out of the blue that caught the Canaries goalkeeping legend flat-footed.
It wasn't a 30-yard curler or a point blank header - it was an offer from Canaries boss Peter Grant that Gunn couldn't turn down. Grant wanted him to become the club's liaison, City's first point of contact with clubs, scouts, players' agents.
Gunn's reaction time? Around 30 seconds.
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"Things happened fairly quickly between I suppose the launch of my book in October where I was looking at a life as ambassador, and then things turned around in February with that phone call from Peter Grant," explained Gunn. "He just said 'Gunny, I want a word with you. And it threw me aback when the offer of a role in the football department was offered.
"I didn't see it coming - and normally I am quite good at sussing things out, seeing things like that. It was too good an opportunity to miss and I made a decision right away."
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Three months later, Gunn is confused when people remark on how happy he looks.
"I've always been happy here," he laughed. "But I do love it - coming in here every morning, it's a great environment. There are a lot of people who have been at the club a long time, but there is the freshness of the playing staff and there are young players coming through and rubbing shoulders with them every day makes me want to be a success in what I am doing."
Gunn has been around football for long enough to know it's no picnic. Norwich City needs a network in place that will attract good, young players to the club, but not at top of the range prices. The parachute payments of the past two years have gone, but the requirements haven't changed.
Gunn's appointment, which coincided with that of Jim Duffy as his assistant, was intended to give Grant more time on the Colney training grounds with the players - and leave the undoubtedly well-known face and name of Gunn to ensure that City are the first to know when a player is available.
It's taken Gunn all over Europe, clocking up the air miles from Norwich and Stansted, but also to the likes of Peterborough, Brentford and King's Lynn.
"It is utilising contacts we have abroad, keeping an eye on what is available," said Gunn. "There is no sense taking players in who are no better than what we have got at the club and the manager is the catalyst to it all.
"What we are doing this summer is making an A list, a B list, a C list and a D list - and in a perfect world we would like everyone to be from the A list, so we have got to try and make as much of that happen as possible. The manager is on record as saying he wants to do the best possible, go up as champions, but obviously we need to get a squad together to make that happen."
But the tightening of the purse strings does have an effect.
"There are opportunities all over - there are games still going on in different countries," added Gunn. "We realise there is a budget to work within and we work within that. We know the restrictions we are working under. There is a wish list and a perfect wish list would be great, but the other players on that will equally do a job. But the better the players we can get in the higher we will finish.
"It's a team effort behind the scenes - we have Alan Wood, our chief scout who is crucial to everything we do, with his contacts and him watching games and watching players and knowing who's available. No one man is going to be taking the plaudits for anything. By the time we get a player here he will have been watched by the chief scout, he will have been spoken to by myself and then Peter, agreed a fee with the club, gone through the medical team, had his fitness assessed and it will all be done very professionally.
"If we can pick up bargains and identify players for the future, great. Who knows, some of the players we are watching that are out of our reach at the moment might come within our reach in the future."
n Bryan Gunn's autobiography, In Where It Hurts, published by Vision Sports Publishing, is now out on paperback, and with an added chapter, priced at £7.99.