Norwich City know too well what Bamford can bring to the party

Patrick Bamford in action for Middlesbrough against Norwich City at Wembley last May. Photo: Paul Ch

Patrick Bamford in action for Middlesbrough against Norwich City at Wembley last May. Photo: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It's fair to say previous January transfer windows have been quiet for Norwich City.

While supporters of other clubs have been treated to whispers of players jetting in to the nearest airport or undergoing medicals, Norwich fans have been forced to amuse themselves. There are only so many times the spotting of a potential signing browsing shops on Riverside Retail Park can raise a laugh.

Thankfully, this year has been different. In comparison to seasons gone by, City fans have been spoilt. All five signings may have been for a fee that was officially undisclosed, but the reported sums tot up to put the club's spending amongst the highest of all Premier League clubs this window.

This time, Saturday's social media rumour was backed up with concrete evidence when a photograph of Patrick Bamford in the Carrow Road car park was posted for all to see.

There's a sense of irony that six months on from Norwich fans delighting in Bamford's no-show at Wembley, the striker is preparing for his first match in City colours.

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Despite his poor performance in the play-off final, where it transpired afterwards that he was injured, anyone who witnessed him torment Norwich in the two league defeats against Middlesbrough last season will appreciate what he has to offer. At the time of that 0-1 defeat in April, Boro's and Bamford's antics of time-wasting and playing for free-kicks had infuriated the Norwich players and fans alike. Bamford might not have scored but his movement pulled apart City's back four, despite picking up a knock after half an hour which meant he was effectively playing on one leg for the rest of the game.

Bamford became the pantomime villain, and the narrative played out perfectly when his downfall came in the final scene in May. He even managed a wry smile when the home fans chanted 'Where were you at Wembley?' while he was warming up for Crystal Palace at Carrow Road in August.

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Some fans have been quick to point at that failed loan spell at Palace to question Bamford's ability in a higher league. He was restricted to six Premier League appearances, none of which were starts and played just 119 minutes in total. For whatever reason, Alan Pardew clearly didn't fancy him. The 22-year-old has a point to prove, which can only be a positive for Norwich.

The question is whether Bamford will fit in Alex Neil's side. The majority of his 17 goals for Boro in the Championship were scored playing as a lone striker, a system City have played all season. Presuming the manager sticks with one up top supported by an advancing Steven Naismith, would he start ahead of Diemerci Mbokani, who seems to be Neil's first choice striker?

Mbokani proved against Liverpool that there is more than just strength and power to his game. His improvised back heel finish though was only his fourth goal in 16 appearances. Bamford's finishing is his best asset, and of all the forwards at the club he's the only one you could label a goal poacher. Wearing the number 11 shirt, Neil must view him as an upgrade to the now departed Gary Hooper.

Signing a striker on the basis of their record in a lower division will always be a gamble. With City able to create far more chances in the Championship, Cameron Jerome scored 20 goals. At this level though he's not clinical enough.

This Norwich squad needed investment to boost their chances of survival and the board have shown their faith in Neil with financial backing. Given the signings made already, it seems Deadline Day could be a quiet one at Carrow Road, but unlike others at least this one has been preceded by a flurry of activity.

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