July 22 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, June 8, 2014
There are plenty of options out there as clubs assess their summer priorities, with many big names currently looking for employment as CHRIS LAKEY reports
Football refuses to go away this summer as the World Cup begins to dominate our thoughts, but amidst the litter of Samba Soccer cliches there is work to be done - putting together a Norwich City squad for next season.
Unless you are Neil Adams or a member of the City board, you are working blind - we don’t know how much money is available, who wants what in terms of wages or contractual clauses - “Boss, I need jelly babies every day for my breakfast” demands youth team product - but we can at least put forward some suggestions.
And boy, are there some out there.
The Premier League clubs have kindly decided to shed some quality internationals players, all in the name of success of course.
Some are out of reach of City’s pockets, others within it, and if you can’t afford the wages - these lads often get themselves a free transfer which helps their pockets but doesn’t do much for the buying club when it comes to the monthly brown envelope - then look at the free agents from below the top flight which is, of course, where we are operating at the moment.
Just for the sake of nostalgia, let’s indulge ourselves with the dream that we can poach from the top flight.
If John Ruddy were to move on - and I wouldn’t wish to be accused of scare mongering; it’s just an ‘if’ - and Declan Rudd or Mark Bunn were deemed not to be first choices (personally I would look no further than Rudd but …) then Mark Schwarzer is free after Chelsea let him go - he has 150 clean sheets to his name. Don’t fancy him? How about Julian Speroni, who looks set to leave Palace - who, of course, have been linked with Ruddy. Or Kieran Westwood, released by Sunderland? Who have also been linked with Ruddy.
There’s plenty of choice and one would assume Norwich would be a tasty tempter for anyone wanting to get back into the top flight - should City need a keeper, that is.
You doubt Ashley Cole will be within the budget or that he has ever heard of Norfolk or would have any ambitions of playing here, but how about Johnny Heitinga, reportedly a Chris Hughton target in January? He went to Fulham instead, but now they don’t want him. Very experienced and although he won’t see 29 again, he perhaps has the bite City needed last season. Plus he’d be cheaper than Cole, or Rio Ferdinand (QPR anyone?), Joleon Lescott (Paul Lambert wants him but will Randy Lerner splash out big wages if he is selling Villa to the highest bidder?).
Liam Ridgewell might do a job now that West Brom have released him. The ultimate show pony, Steve Sidwell, has also been released by Fulham; if you want someone who makes a decent pass and then stands and admires his handiwork, he’s your man.
Frank Lampard? He’s in the Ashley Cole school - for him Norwich may just an acronym he used at school for something naughty. Maybe Uncle ‘Arry at QPR will give him a job.
Then there’s Joe Cole, who has somehow managed to make a living out of the game in recent years - the star that was polished by all and sundry has well and truly taken on a dull, ineffectual hue.
Matty Etherington would be a decent left winger - but keep him away from the Snakepit and their corner flag …
It’s up front where City are lacking, and although Neil Adams has signed Lewis Grabban, there is much room for improvement. Samuel Eto’o won’t be on anyone’s radar and nor, you hope, will Nicklas Bendtner (see Joe Cole above). But I have heard a few who would fancy the Premier League’s king of substitutes, Shola Ameobi.
There are, most probably, very good reasons for them being free agents: price, age and ambition among them. But they’ll end up somewhere.