This is the first column from Mr X. Cool name, right? He’ll be sharing his thoughts on Norwich throughout the season and kicks off by questioning their muddled approach to transfer targets
Regardless of the number of post-match pints consumed (and you need a good few inside you if you are planning to brave Channel Five’s Football League Tonight offering when you get in) there is no hiding from the fact that the draw with Stoke was a real case of two very valuable points slipping out of Norwich’s grasp.
Like most members of the yellow army I have been delighted with City’s attacking approach in this embryonic Premier League campaign. That said, after witnessing such creative and positive performances, I guess I’m not alone in feeling a tinge of frustration that we have four points rather than five or six after our opening three fixtures. And like many onlookers I remain shocked that the club has so far failed to address our defensive shortcomings with the permanent signing of a quality central defender.
However, despite my concerns that Premier League clean sheets in 2015-16 could be about as common as Premier League goals from Johan Elmander in 2013-14, what is really eating away at the back of my mind is that we may live to regret not signing new players in time to have had an impact on those opening three games. Palace at home, Sunderland away and Stoke at home really needed to yield a minimum five-point return.
Clearly we are not in the market for the level of quality that would be needed to help us triumph at the Emirates or the Etihad but could a Mattia Destro, a Charlie Austin or a Jonathan Walters even (yes I did say Jonathan Walters) have made a difference against Stoke or Palace? I guess they just might have done, much like having Dean Ashton for the entire 2004-05 season would have certainly enhanced our survival chances.
Alex Neil has worked wonders with what he’s got but one can’t help feeling that the City boss is being short-changed by the hapless Carrow Road ‘transfer committee’ who appear to have been blown out more times than a wind sock in recent weeks.
The inability to land the much-needed central defender is criminal, while the scattergun approach to recruiting a striker remains baffling to those of us observing from the outside. To be tabling bids for an exciting young talent such as Benik Afobe and then turning your attentions to Walters is on a par with wanting a Porsche but settling for a Peugeot (and in City’s case then driving home in neither).
Under the management of Paul Lambert there was a clear emphasis on obtaining hungry young players (not Glenn Murray!) and equally as importantly an appetite to get them in early and hit the ground running as soon as points were up for grabs.
The constant chopping and changing of the scouting system at Norwich City has done little to help the club’s troubled recruitment process. Most in the game will swiftly acknowledge a longstanding and consistent scouting structure is vital in helping to sort the Howsons from the Hooivelds. These systems take years to build up and seconds to dismantle. The fact that my missus can make a pair of shoes last longer than a Head of Player Recruitment can survive under David McNally’s watch might go some way to explaining the difficulties Norwich have faced.
Confidence undoubtedly plays a vital part in the game. And with RVW, Elmander, Jospeh Yobo and too many more to mention over the last four windows on the CVs of Norwich’s transfer committee, you can’t help but feel their confidence is in need of a boost.
Let’s see what the next six days brings, but I just hope it does not prove too little too late. After all, Palace at home and Stoke at home only come round once a season…