Chris Goreham: Norwich City’s starting XI shows player recruitment is tough to get right

Gary ONeil and Jonny Howson and Alexis Sanchez in action during the Barclays Premier League match at

Gary ONeil and Jonny Howson and Alexis Sanchez in action during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil's team selection on Saturday was interesting.

Cameron Jerome has been trusted by Alex Neil on the big occasions. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus

Cameron Jerome has been trusted by Alex Neil on the big occasions. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Almost a year and two full transfer windows since Norwich City were promoted to the Premier League, the Canaries manager picked eight of the same XI that started the play-off final against Middlesbrough.

Wembley goalscorers Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond were among those restored to the first XI. The three exceptions were Gary O'Neil, who came on as a substitute under the famous arch last May, and two more recent signings Ivo Pinto and Robbie Brady.

Neil's hand was forced in some areas of the pitch, Timm Klose would have been in the side on Saturday if he'd not been injured, but for the most part the City manager placed his trust in those who proved last season that they have what it takes to get the job done on the big occasion.

Four of the seven substitutes from the weekend have been brought in to bolster Norwich City in the Premier League but Youssouf Mulumbu, Dieumerci Mbokani, Steven Naismith and Matthew Jarvis are all yet to establish themselves as cast iron Premier League starters at this business end of the season.

Mesut Özil of Arsenal is tackled by Jonny Howson of Norwich and Gary ONeil at the Emirates Stadium.

Mesut Özil of Arsenal is tackled by Jonny Howson of Norwich and Gary ONeil at the Emirates Stadium. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd


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On-loan striker Patrick Bamford didn't even make the match day squad of 18.

The perceived wisdom amongst Norwich City fans is that the club should have pushed the boat out more last summer in a bid to get more new players.

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But if Neil's team selection at Arsenal proves anything it is that chucking money at swelling the squad is no guarantee of success.

It's too simple to say Norwich should have signed more players ahead of their Premier League return but the recent appointment of Tony Spearing as the club's new head of recruitment suggests an acceptance behind the scenes at Carrow Road that identifying the right transfer talent has been an issue in recent years.

Ivo Pinto was one of the few recent signings to play for Norwich against Arsenal on Saturday. Pictur

Ivo Pinto was one of the few recent signings to play for Norwich against Arsenal on Saturday. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Neil told me in one interview earlier this year that he felt the club's scouting network had needed a complete overhaul last summer and that was one of the reasons they didn't do as much business as early as they'd hoped.

It'll be fascinating to see which 11 players he most trusts to get the job done over the final fortnight of the season.

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