Glenn’s new broom is sweeping clean
David Cuffley So the team Peter Grant tried to build is being slowly dismantled at Colney. Yesterday's announcement that French midfielder Julien Brellier's contract with Norwich City had been terminated “with immediate effect” made it three departures in two days for players signed by Glenn Roeder's predecessor as manager.
So the team Peter Grant tried to build is being slowly dismantled at Colney.
Yesterday's announcement that French midfielder Julien Brellier's contract with Norwich City had been terminated “with immediate effect” made it three departures in two days for players signed by Glenn Roeder's predecessor as manager.
Thursday afternoon saw striker Chris Brown complete a £400,000 move to bottom-of-the-table Preston North End, one day short of a year after he signed for the Canaries.
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That particular piece of business made a tidy profit - something of miracle in itself - though whether that profit was quite as big as City claimed is a matter of debate.
When Brown signed from Sunderland, the fee announced by the Canaries was £325,000. When he left this week, the club website said the original signing was £275,000, but either way it was an achievement to make money on the deal, given Brown's record of one goal in 24 appearances.
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The 22-year-old Brown had barely unpacked his kit bag at Deepdale when another striker signed by Grant was on his way out of the door.
David Strihavka, signed from Banik Ostrava in July, also had his contract terminated “with immediate effect”, though there was no profit to be had this time. Instead, City admitted that the Czech's six-month stay - three starts, eight appearances as substitute, one goal - had cost them the small matter of £240,000.
Not quite the one million euros reported in some quarters when Strihavka arrived, but still a costly miscalculation.
After originally stating in July that Strihavka was signed “on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee”, City decided further explanation was necessary this week. They said the four-year deal was on the basis of an initial one-year contract with the option for a further three years if they wished to retain his services. That option applied to both fee and contract, they said, with City paying £240,000 for the first year of the deal.
A further sum of about £1.1m would have been payable this summer, City claimed, had they chosen to exercise their option for a further three years.
Though they started just one first team game together - the 2-1 defeat at Burnley in October - Brown and Strihavka did have one or two things in common apart from similar build.
They each managed just one senior goal in City colours and neither of them started a first team match under Roeder, Brown getting four appearances from the bench under the new boss and Strihavka one very brief run-out as a substitute in the 3-0 defeat at Plymouth in November.
While Brown was hoping for his Preston debut against Watford today, the man tipped as potentially the new Jan Koller is returning to the Czech Republic, where it is believed he will sign for Slavia Prague.
Strihavka may well reflect that he had little chance to show Norwich what he was capable of - even Iwan Roberts scored only one league goal in his first five months with the club - but he departed with good grace.
He said: “I tried to play in the Championship, but with the unhappy start to the season and with the change in manager, I now need to re-start my career back in Prague. I would like to wish Norwich City and their wonderful fans best wishes for the future.”
The game at Plymouth where he last appeared has proved to be something of a watershed. Scottish pair Ian Murray and Simon Lappin have not figured in the first team since - though Lappin was back on the bench for the last two games - and the defeat at Home Park was also the last time Brellier was seen in a City shirt.
After signing a two-year deal and being billed as the hatchet man the Canaries needed to provide more steel in midfield, Brellier made only 11 first team appearances. He fell out of favour with Grant when he was sent off for two yellow cards in the 2-0 defeat at Wolves, and although he won a recall for Roeder's first two games in charge at home to Ipswich and Watford, he was discarded after the Plymouth debacle.
The man nicknamed “Le Juge” had been very quickly judged by his new boss and was found wanting - a major disappointment for a player who became something of a cult hero with his previous club, Hearts, and whose personal flag followed him to Carrow Road.
While Brellier, who was 26 on Thursday, looks for pastures new, Scotland international Murray, whose contract runs to the end of the season, has been linked with Brighton, Falkirk and former club Hibernian and could be the next Grant recruit to be offloaded by his successor.
As departure follows departure, one is reminded of the cull that occurred when Nigel Worthington succeeded Bryan Hamilton as manager seven years ago, steered City away from the relegation zone and at the same time thinned out the senior squad by getting rid of some of his predecessor's more fanciful signings. It was painful but necessary and there are clear parallels as Roeder's new broom begins to sweep clean.
t MEN WHO CAME, SAW AND FAILED FOR CITY
Top of the Canary flops
t Gerry Howshall (1967-1971, 43 apps) Made his first appearance at the Supporters' Club annual dinner when manager Lol Morgan signed him from West Bromwich Albion for £25,000 - the first time on record that a Football League club had signed a player in front of an invited audience. Hampered by illness and injury, he was given a free transfer.
t Drazen Muzinic (1980-82, 23 apps) John Bond paid a club record £300,000 for his last City signing, a Yugoslav international he had never seen play, but who had helped Hajduk Split to four league titles. Team-mate Justin Fashanu suggested City had been sent Muzinic's milkman by mistake. Not true - but he struggled to adapt to the English game.
t Willie Young (1983-84, 7 apps) A £40,000 signing from Nottingham Forest, Young was sacked by the Canaries, accused of breaking his contract and Football League regulations, and deemed “guilty of serious or persistent misconduct”. He did not appeal. City hired a private detective to investigate his absence from training.
t Dean Coney (1989-91, 17 apps, 1 goal) Unfairly branded in one book as City's worst ever signing, Coney, a £350,000 pre-deadline capture from Queen's Park Rangers, was supposed to be the final piece in the jigsaw as Dave Stringer's team bid for the Division One title in the spring of 1989. Lack of goals, serious injury and a critical home crowd instead made his stay an unhappy one.
t Steve Walsh (2000-2001, 5 apps) Walsh's five first-team appearances cost an estimated £200,000 in wages and a parting cash settlement. The 36-year-old never played a full 90 minutes in 19 weeks with City. His total of 129 minutes' action cost more than £1500 for every minute he spent on the field.
t Raymond de Waard (2000-01, 13 apps) A £225,000 pre-deadline capture from SC Cambuur Leeuwarden, Dutch left-winger De Waard was one of Bryan Hamilton's 14 signings in nine months as manager. Alas, De Waard struggled with life in Division One and started just five first-team matches before his contract was ended.