Canaries financial position has been turned on its head

Chris LakeyNorwich City's financial decline in recent years has had an effect in their transfer market activities. A quick look at the ins and outs - and where they came from and went to - suggests that Nigel Worthington was the last of the big spenders - in transfer fees at least.Chris Lakey

Norwich City's financial decline in recent years has had an effect in their transfer market activities.

A quick look at the ins and outs - and where they came from and went to - suggests that Nigel Worthington was the last of the big spenders - in transfer fees at least.

The ever-increasing practice of clubs in hiding behind a "undisclosed fee" tag makes it difficult to add up the sums - as does the hidden cost of bringing in loan players: without knowing how much a player earns and the terms of the deal, it's impossible to ascertain the cost of loans.

What we do know is that Worthington was the last Norwich manager to spend more than �1m on a player.

Five years ago next week, he shelled out �3m to sign Dean Ashton from Crewe. It was considered a good deal: Ashton was one of the rising stars of the lower leagues and it was time to prove himself at a higher level. With lots of others interested, Worthington pulled off something of a coup.

But Ashton couldn't prevent City's relegation from the Premier League and a year after moving to Norwich he was off to West Ham.

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Worthington again spent big on a replacement, signing Robert Earnshaw from West Brom for �3.5m, and at the same time bringing in midfielder Dickson Etuhu from Preston for �450,000

The following summer he bought Lee Croft from Manchester City for �600,000 - and that remains his last big signing. Worthington lost his job in the autumn of 2006 and a year later some of his big buys had gone, as the decline of Norwich City became more marked.

Earnshaw left for Derby for the same fee, Etuhu went to Sunderland at a profit of more than �1m, while Youssef Safri's move to Southampton was said to be for half of the �500,000 City paid for him.

Peter Grant was the manager left fuming at the escape clauses in Earnshaw's and Etuhu's contracts which triggered their departures and did little to help his preparations for the season ahead.

Grant had splashed out �750,000 on Celtic keeper David Marshall - the last time City officially paid more than half a million for a player - but by October, 20097 he was gone, replaced by Glenn Roeder.

Perhaps Roeder had little to play with on the fees front, but it's the cost of his activities in the loan market which are being scrutinised at the moment.

The quality isn't necessarily in question - every manager has his good and his bad signings - but the sheer volume.

James Henry, Maceo Rigters, Troy Archibald-Henville, OJ Koroma and Juan Velsasco didn't work out; Ched Evans, Ryan Bertrand, Leroy Lita and Martin Taylor did.

But perhaps the biggest and most questionable flop of all was Antoine Sibierksi, who rarely showed the form everyone expected. He French striker started 13 league games for City and scored two goals.

He was reputedly on a salary of around �30,000 a week with parent club Wigan, and it has been suggested that City paid most of that during his time at Carrow Road.

He was here for four months - and even if City paid only half his salary, that's quarter of a million quid gone. Plus his signing fee.

Sibierski was one of many - all players who, when their time was up, returned to their parent clubs, leaving City with nothing but a large bill. When Bryan Gunn took over a year ago, he ended up taking the total of loan players employed during the relegation season to a staggering 16. His only capital outlay was on Cody McDonald - �25,000 and the promise of a pre-season friendly.

Gunn paid fees, but not huge ones, as he tried to rebuild in the summer, with perhaps the estimated �450,000 for Grant Holt the biggest.

Because of the actions of others he had to scrap around, as does Lambert today.

Two of his three loans deals have been made permanent - although the fees for Russell Martin and Anthony McNamee are in the "undisclosed" category.

There are rumours of others coming in as Lambert attempts to build a promotion squad, but his trading place is very different to the one which Worthington, Grant, Roeder and Gunn, on a sliding scale, have faced.

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