Alex Neil: talented, fearsome, adventurous and already bordering on legendary status. But could his empty black book be causing Norwich problems in their search to bring in new players? Jon Rogers thinks so
Ah the Premier League.
Boy, have I missed the countless annoying bird puns, alongside the obligatory Delia and mustard mentions in the media.
Still, referees eh? Cor, that referee. Ref. Er. Rees. Tut.
Now we've got that out of the way, let's focus on the positives from the Crystal Palace game. Posts were hit, miraculous goal-line clearances were made, and perfectly good goals were disallowed. It was an entertaining game. Well, worth the time and money.
No, the most disappointing aspect on Saturday wasn't the Man in the Middle; he's had enough exposure for one lifetime. It was the overall attitude of many around me. It was like some couldn't wait to get on the players' backs.
After we had just gone 1-0 down and Alex Tettey was caught in possession by Johan Cabaye, I heard a few clichéd whines. "Come on Norwich", "Sort it out." That sort of generic bumf.
“Oh don't start,” I thought. First game in 29-degree heat in the hardest league in the world, versus a Palace team who have spent over £40m since Alan Pardew became manager. Apart from Robbie Brady, whose set-pieces on the day didn't justify his price tag, this was the Wembley squad which made us proud as summer punch that day in May.
Terms like 'freshening up' and 'adding competition' are used freely in pre-season but the season has started and those internet rumours seem to have dried up. Which brings me on to my question: why haven't we added the much-needed quality we need yet?
We don't need too much. A striker, a winger and a centre-back would be plenty. But this much-needed boost to the squad has yet to materialise.
I'm going to be blunt. Having thought about it and after watching the game, I have a theory.
That, through no fault of his own, Alex Neil's inexperience is somewhat responsible. Despite his numerous strengths for a manager of such a young age, his biggest weakness could be the empty pages in his little black book of footballing movers and shakers.
For example, Cabaye, a fantastic player who was wanted by the Manchesters two years ago, was on Pardew's speed-dial. He could have gone to almost any club in the Premier League and I can promise you he didn't come to Palace for the luxurious surroundings of Selhurst Park. He obviously has a bond with Pardew from their time together at Newcastle; a bond the bigger teams couldn't compete with.
It's not that Neil lacks respect in the game, but sadly I don't see it stretching much further than Scotland currently. In 10 years' time, different story; but right now he doesn't have much sway and influence on those undecided and unsettled players choosing their next club.
Although he did quickly and strongly bring in players like Tony Andreu. But although that particular Canary wasn't 'cheep', I'm sure Delia would agree, he won't cut the mustard.
OH NO. WHAT HAVE I BECOME!?
A version of this article first appeared in the EDP on Monday