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Transfer tales: Leicester boss finally got his man, just eight years later than he hoped

Ryan Bennett took the long route round to working with Brendan Rodgers. Picture: PA

Ryan Bennett took the long route round to working with Brendan Rodgers. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

The latest in the Norwich City transfer tales series sees Mark Armstrong reveal how the story of Ryan Bennett’s move to Carrow Road unfolded in January 2012

Ryan Bennett enjoyed five years at Carrow Road before moving to Wolves. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesRyan Bennett enjoyed five years at Carrow Road before moving to Wolves. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Brendan Rodgers finally got his man earlier this season... and it was eight years in the making.

Rodgers completed the loan signing of Ryan Bennett from Wolves in January with a view to a £5m move when this season is completed.

However, had it not been for Norwich City, Rodgers would have worked with the defender long before now.

It was January 31, 2012 and I was manning the transfer blog on pinkun.com. It had been a relatively quiet window from a City perspective with just Jonny Howson completing a £2.5m move despite the midfielder suffering a knee injury whilst Oli Johnson had moved to Swindon Town on a free transfer.

Ryan Bennett signed for Norwich City in January 2012. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesRyan Bennett signed for Norwich City in January 2012. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

It was getting late and it seemed the rumour of Ian Harte being seen at the Tesco in Sprowston didn’t have a lot of foundation to it...

Anyway, I was on the late shift with main Norwich City writer Paddy Davitt. After all the normal toings and froings of transfer deadline day it seemed this one would pass without a signing. I was bracing myself for the normal toxic reaction from some supporters when their team doesn’t sign someone on deadline day.

And then...

Paddy’s phone started ringing at 10.55pm, it was Alan Swann from the Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

Ryan Bennett made a u-turn in Windsor to sign for Norwich City instead of Swansea. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesRyan Bennett made a u-turn in Windsor to sign for Norwich City instead of Swansea. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Alan wanted to know if we had heard anything about Ryan Bennett possibly signing... neither of us had at that stage.

When it comes to a trusted journalist like Alan there wouldn’t be any smoke without fire.

A few calls were made and it was clear this was a deal that was definitely on. The transfer blog went nuclear and suddenly frantic calls were being made to Archant’s production centre at Thorpe that we may be a little late as we had a developing story. Fans wouldn’t have forgiven either Paddy or I for putting out a paper without news that Bennett had agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal at Carrow Road.

Picture archives were plundered for any involving Bennett whilst Paddy found out as much as he could about the youngster, who was making his name as a cultured centre back at Peterborough.

Leicester City Manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
28/02/2020Leicester City Manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 28/02/2020

There was a buzz on the sports desk and whilst I tried to update all the watchers of the transfer blog Paddy found out that Bennett had actually been on his way to Swansea before Norwich hijacked the deal.

A back page needed to be filled by the 11.30pm deadline at the time and as ever Paddy obliged.

“Swansea were interested and I had to make my way down there because of the 11 o’clock deadline,” said Bennett after signing.

“I got near Windsor then got the phone call to turn around. That’s football and it’s something I had to deal with.”

Bennett would go on to be loaned back to Peterborough until March before linking up with his new team-mates, making his City debut in a 2-1 defeat at Fulham.

Bennett never quite lived up to the promise at Carrow Road and when Stuart Webber arrived at Norwich at the end of the 2016/17 season he was one of the big-name casualties along with John Ruddy and Sebastien Bassong.

Lambert took him to Wolves before resigning a day later and it was at Molineux that he became the defender Norwich fans had hopes – authoritative and assured – helping the Midlanders to Championship glory in 2018 and establishing them in the Premier League.

He dropped down the defender pecking order this season, paving the way for a move to Rodgers’ Champions League chasing Leicester.

It of course meant that the Northern Irishman finally got to work with the defender... just a little later than he hoped thanks to the Canaries.


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