Successful conclusion to Norwich City's Fox hunt

Chris Lakey Paul Lambert raided his old club Colchester United on Friday to make David Fox his fourth signing of the summer - and signalled a return to normal relations with the Essex club.

Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert raided his old club Colchester United on Friday to make David Fox his fourth signing of the summer - and signalled a return to normal relations with the Essex club.

The 26-year-old - who had a year left on his contract - signed a two-year deal with City for an undisclosed fee - and both Lambert and chief executive David McNally were happy to say thank you to a club which has proved to be something of a thorn in their side for the past nine months.

A fee was agreed between the clubs on Thursday - just three days after the bitter compensation row over Lambert's departure from Colchester to City last August was resolved - and by noon on Friday Fox was being unveiled to the media.

“It worked really well, it was business as usual,” said McNally. “They were thoroughly professional, as we expected them to be, through the whole process and the deal has been concluded amicably.

“Certainly speaking for Norwich City we would like to move on and draw a line under matters. We are competitors and as competitive clubs we will have some competitive rivalry.

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“We have a long history of getting on with Colchester. Clearly what happened over the last year has affected that, but we would like to move on and I would like to say they have acted thoroughly professionally and properly over the last few days, as we expected them to.”

Lambert said: “It happened really quickly. When I was at Colchester I had a good relationship with people. What happened has happened. It doesn't really matter to me - I don't have anything bad to say about Colchester.

“I am delighted to have him - I know what I am going to get, I know he will keep the ball for us, he will go and take it and he won't hide from it, which I need - people to take responsibility.”

U's chairman Robbie Cowling said Fox had made it clear he was unsettled in the area it was in his best interests to let him go.

“We got him on a free contract 12 months ago and now Norwich have offered a fee for him,” he said. “It is not productive to have unhappy players here at Colchester United and it was in ours and David's best interests that he moved on.”

Fox began his career with Manchester United, where he was captain of the reserves, but moved to Blackpool in January, 2006, playing alongside City favourite Wes Hoolahan.

Lambert signed him for Colchester last summer and he made his debut on a day that neither he nor City fans will ever forget - in the 7-1 drubbing of the Canaries at Carrow Road on the opening day of the season.

Fox scored the fourth goal, from a free-kick, and admitted yesterday he can wear the tag of “dead ball specialist”.

“You can label that if you want to,” he said. “It's not the worst to have. I like to take free kicks and hopefully I get the chance to do that and put a few more in. That would be nice.”

Once again it seems Carrow Road - and Lambert - were major selling points.

“I know what to expect from the manager and it was a very easy decision, not just because of him but because of the size of the club as well,” he said.

“When we were here we saw the surroundings and the fans and it is some place when it's full and they make some noise - the managers sold the club to me very easily.

“Every footballer wants to play at as high a level as possible and when Norwich made an approach as a Championship club then obviously you are going to want to go there. I am no different and I see it as a big challenge to me personally.

“I played with Wes at Blackpool - he is a terrific player. I look forward to playing with him again and I am sure he will carry on the fine form he produced last season.”

Those two years at Blackpool give him valuable Championship experience - but there is a big difference between what the Lancashire club expected then, and what City expect now.

“I had a couple of seasons there and really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was different surroundings - they were a small team that had just got promoted, like Norwich, but I don't think they were going into it with as much ambition as Norwich are going into the Championship this year.

“The aim was to stay up and that was the sole ambition of the club and everyone scrapped away to make sure that happened and I think what it showed was the progression a club can make. They had a couple of years' stability in the Championship and then they were able to move on this year and get promoted.

“It's going to be a big challenge for everyone at Norwich to move up a league, but I'm sure with the surroundings and the fans and the manager it will be a good challenge for everybody.”

Fox joins fellow midfielder Andrew Crofts (Brighton), centre half Elliott Ward (Coventry) and left-back Steven Smith (Rangers) as new signings at Carrow Road since the end of the season.