Michael Bailey: So what will happen to City’s out of contract duo – and those left behind?
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In his latest weekly column, Norwich City correspondent and PinkUn Show host Michael Bailey looks into his crystal ball ahead of a summer with both Alex Tettey and Wes Hoolahan out of contract – where last year, seven made it through the Canaries exit door.
It has felt like a season for ending eras at Norwich City, and we could well be within the final weeks of two more.
Saturday made it 512 appearances in yellow and green, shared between two players who have their own place in the hearts of Canaries supporters; two who in recent seasons would have been among the reasons why fans renewed their season tickets.
To break it down, those 512 appearances have come over more than 15 years of combined Norwich City service.
The duo have scored 59 goals – most of them coming from one side of the pair – and picked up 79 bookings – most of those coming from the other side of the pair.
And no, you won’t get a prize for guessing who they are.
Cheaply disregarding Paul Jones’ single outing in yellow, Alex Tettey and Wes Hoolahan are the only remaining senior professionals left on City’s books set to be out of contract come the end of June – a situation far removed from the seven exits at the end of last season.
No doubt there was some hope around Carrow Road that Tettey, 31 and settled in his retirement from international football, would have liked to hang around for one more deal to help steer a group of younger professionals through the Championship quagmire.
In reality, that was also asking a lot of a midfielder who joined when City were in the Premier League and will be earning wages that won’t compute to a self-funded second tier club without parachute payments.
And as has already been pointed out, he has one more big deal in him. Not many people would consider losing half their salary, regardless how much they enjoy their current surroundings.
Don’t take this as confirming something that hasn’t been decided yet. But there is a sense of inevitability that I’m sure a lot of Norwich fans would still like to be proven wrong.
For the record, Tettey scored six of those 59 goals and notched 54 of the 79 bookings. The other 53 strikes and 25 yellows are owned by Mr Hoolahan – the subject of more questions than first-team appearances so far in 2018.
The Irishman, freshly retired from international football himself, already has his place in City folklore assured. There is nothing left for him to prove in a Norwich shirt.
Arriving to Glenn Roeder’s partially misplaced fanfare of welcoming new heroes, Hoolahan delivered his side of the bargain by the ton.
But that is the body of work presented season after season, before this one began.
For 2017-18 and especially since the winter, the 35-year-old has had niggling injuries and minimal game-time hamper his fitness – alongside head coach Daniel Farke’s clear appreciation for young players and the energy displayed by both James Maddison and Moritz Leitner in Hoolahan’s most effective position.
It felt like Saturday’s draw with Bolton was something of an accumulation; when Hoolahan’s usual twist of pace and fleet of foot could no longer beat his man.
Maybe there was a tinge of sadness to that – but if so, it’s only because we’ve all seen just how good the man has been throughout his time in yellow and green.
Some form of recognition around a football match will happen at some point to mark Hoolahan’s time at the club – but for another whose service has come with decent financial recompense, one more deal may be one stretch too far. Time will tell.
If he did stay a little longer, no one would begrudge it of Hoolahan – providing there was enough in the tank to contribute. And if it wasn’t to happen, the search for new heroes starts again.
In fact, offering new contracts has been a regular occurrence since the arrival of sporting director Stuart Webber in April.
There have been new deals for James Maddison, Jamal Lewis, Russell Martin, Remi Matthews, Ben Godfrey, Diallang Jaiyesimi, Tom Trybull and Christoph Zimmermann. All have put pen to paper on improved terms – either to reward past efforts, tie them down to longer stays, protect their value or protect the Canaries. Indeed, most of those deals were going on three or four years.
With that and such clear, significant longer-term planning, it all immediately brings to attention the fact Farke himself is out of contract come the summer of 2019 – something the club may well look to rectify soon; especially if City can finish the season on a high – in turn protecting a long-term plan, built around their German coach.
Farke’s journey is only just beginning, and everyone with a connection to Norwich City will hope it proves a fruitful one. If it delivers half of the bright spots ushered in by Alex Tettey and Wes Hoolahan, we’ll all be happy.
• It’s been a rather busy time for some of Daniel Farke’s Norwich City squad – and not so much for others.
The snow seemed to leave a lot of the Canaries’ finest peering out of their window at the white wonderland, a little uncertain how they where going to tackle the winding road to Colney for training.
Meanwhile, Marco Stiepermann had a hernia operation that seems likely to keep him out for a few weeks.
But top of the bill is Ivo Pinto, with the current Norwich City captain and his wife Carolina welcoming their daughter Camila into the world earlier this week.
With Pinto now hopefully fit the Portuguese defender can instead work out how to fly down the right flank and chop back with the ball, on just a couple of hours sleep.
I’m looking forward to seeing that already but more importantly, congratulations Ivo and Carolina.
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