Interesting to see what future holds for Norwich City’s Chris Martin
There was not too much in the sporting world to lighten the mood on Saturday after the rather chastening experience of watching Manchester City’s Carrow Road goal blitz, coming so soon after City’s great victory at Tottenham.
By the time Carlos Tevez and Sergio Ageuro had put the Canaries to the sword in the space of seven minutes, another South American, Luis Suarez, had already scored what proved to be a crucial goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to help earn himself another big final appearance, an occurrence unlikely to cheer anyone except Liverpool fans. Then we witnessed another Grand National marred by tragedy, where hopes of a third successive winner in yellow and green colours were dashed in one instance by a photo finish and in another by something a great deal worse.
Searching for something to provide a little light relief, it came on the Sky Sports ticker-tape with news of a Norwich player scoring against Ipswich.
Chris Martin’s first-half goal for Crystal Palace was not enough to down Town in a 1-1 draw, but he was the only City striker to score at the weekend and his performances for the Eagles have provided some lively comment on the various supporter websites, mostly favourable.
The 23-year-old Martin, who was given just four Premier League appearances early in the season, is one of a string of City players whose immediate future is unclear after spending all or most of the current campaign out on loan. He has another year to run on his Norwich contract, but for the rest, June 2012 looms large on the calendar.
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Defender George Francomb, part of the Hibernian squad that has just reached the Scottish Cup final, has a contract that runs out in June, with the option for another year. The same terms apply to midfielder Korey Smith, who has made 12 appearances at Barnsley.
Midfielder Tom Adeyemi, back from League One side Oldham and playing half an hour for City Reserves at Swansea on Wednesday, also has a deal that ends in June, along with Josh Dawkin, who also appeared for the reserves at Swansea, and Matt Ball, who went to Macclesfield on loan in March.
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Martin, with a healthy 34 goals in 114 games for the Canaries, has added a further seven in 26 Championship games for Palace, and though that’s not a prolific strike rate, the fact he is a regular in the starting line-up ahead of other strikers – he played eight matches in March and has played four more in April – suggests manager Dougie Freedman is happy with his contribution.
One regular Palace columnist reports: “Martin is the favoured choice of the current strikers at Selhurst and with a current price tag of �450,000, he would be a good acquisition.”
Another contributor to fans’ website holmesdale.net argues: “Martin is a quality championship player and one who could be a pivotal part of our team.”
It’s not clear whether that asking price is accurate – and as yet there has been no word from City on whether they are even prepared to sell – but with Cody McDonald sold for a reported �400,000 to Coventry last summer despite minimal Championship experience, it seems a tad low. Salary, of course, could be another issue for a potential bidder.
It may be that we have not seen the last of Martin in City colours – it would be good for at least one of the club’s current Academy crop other than the two goalkeepers to get a decent crack in the Premier League. But doubtless all will become clear during what promises to be another busy summer.
• FEW WOULD GET SHIRTY IF CITY KEPT SAME KIT
As the proud owner of an original adidas pinstripe Norwich City shirt, circa 1983, and a replica of the 1959 FA Cup run shirt, I could never be accused of being a dedicated follower of football fashion.
But I reckon the Canaries have been taking the field in the Premier League this season in their smartest home and away kit for years, so it’s rather a shame they have decided to dispense with both versions for 2012-13.
Chief executive David McNally confirmed this week that sales of the highly-acclaimed Italian design had been more than double those of the previous best-selling kit.
That, I suppose, limits the number you can sell next season because so many fans already have the shirt. So you start all over again and perhaps there will be another sales record.
“Let me tell you, big football clubs change their kit every year. If we are a big football club then we have to act like a big football club,” said Mr McNally.
“If we don’t, we are at a competitive disadvantage to other big football clubs and the vast majority of supporters prefer the kit to change every year.”
I’m not sure I agree with that. Doubtless there are fans out there who can’t wait to get their hands on the new shirt each year and happily see their �45 as another contribution towards the club coffers. But equally I don’t imagine there would have been too many disgruntled fans complaining about having to wear their award-winning kit for a second season.
City fans have had a great time back in the Premier League but they’ve also had their most expensive season ever, in terms of season ticket prices, casual ticket prices, away admission prices and the cost of travel, at current fuel prices.
In spite of that they have packed Carrow Road with sell-out crowds that must give the club some kind of competitive advantage over some of their poorer-supported rivals.
It would have been a decent thank you gesture to “do different”, as we say in Norfolk, and keep the kit for another year rather than act like all the other big football clubs.