September 18 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
The lack of the fifth dimension – a striker – at Carrow Road was perhaps more evident at the weekend than it has been for a while.
With Steve Morison injured and Grant Holt perhaps not quite ready for a start, manager Chris Hughton had to choose between loan player Harry Kane and Simeon Jackson. He chose Jackson, not surprisingly –Kane is young, reasonably raw at this level, but a good man to have in the wings.
Jackson has performed minor miracles at various times for Norwich – the timing of his introduction to the starting line-up was the perfect time to perform another, coming up, as he did, against a Newcastle side struggling even more than the Canaries, one defender who apparently didn’t want to be there and another who is, frankly, Championship material – Messrs Coloccini and Williamson respectively.
But in the rarefied atmosphere of the top flight he was unable to reproduce the trick he performed two seasons ago when he scored nine goals in his last eight games, including two hat-tricks, to send the Canaries into the Premier League. Funnily enough, I never thought he quite got the credit for that run of form that he perhaps deserved; it was remarkable.
Holt did get a run-out, replacing Jackson after the Canadian had run his socks off for 68 minutes as a lone striker – something he is clearly not cut-out to do. In fact, without Holt or Morison, there is no one there to do that job and, with a reluctance to change the system, that’s it.
Plan B doesn’t come into operation. Unless you have an alternative – and, thankfully, the month of January gives every man, woman and child the opportunity to name the player they believe will be joining the ranks any time soon.
With all due respect to the rumour-mongers, it’s very easy to come up with any name you like and fit a scenario around it. A case can be made for almost anyone, but if you are one of those of a scurrilous bent, who sits in front of a computer screen with a sandwich and a cup of coffee and attempts to convince the world you are someone in the know, then think again. What you lack, apart from a fertile imagination and the Sky Book of Footballers, is a budget, or a plan.
The idea that Chris Hughton’s list of players he seriously – and I mean seriously – wants to bring to Carrow Road is anywhere near as long as the list of possible ‘candidates’ is ludicrous. And what about the cash? The world of the inside expert whose observations are based solely on an electronic football game doesn’t always consider the financial implications.
Let’s say, for example, that Hughton has his eyes on a striker. He has £10m to spend, but he actually values the striker at £5m – and the selling club wants £7m. He has the money, but what does he do? Sitting at home, you’d probably say, ‘pay the £7m’, because you still have £3m left. You would also, perhaps, have already decided to rebuild the City Stand at a cost of many tens of millions, despite City having yet to not only guarantee top flight status and all that goes with it, but having not yet established themselves as part of the Premier League furniture.
The issue City have to battle with is the future. It was less than four years ago that City came close to inviting the administrators to take a seat and work out how to save the club from extinction.
Great strides have been taken on and off the pitch ever since. There is absolutely no way that the future can be compromised by rushing out and buying big money strikers for big salaries, but with no idea whether the signing will prove successful.
It really is softly, softly, catchy monkey. City have to find the right balance between spending enough to make sure they stay in the Premier Division, but not too much to land themselves in trouble if they don’t.
The City Stand could have been rebuilt at several times during the past few years, but the costs could have come back to bite City. When the time comes, it will be done.
Somewhere between reality and bedroom fantasy the waters have been muddied. Millions of Premier League money doesn’t buy you a clutch of £10m strikers without a second thought – unless you are QPR, and look where they are.