Michael Bailey: This January really will be a window – into what’s next for City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
In his latest weekly column, Norwich City correspondent and Pink Un Show host Michael Bailey rubs his hands at the prospect of the January transfer window, looks back on Christmas and ahead to the half-tantalising prospect of Chelsea in the FA Cup.
And people think Christmas is fun. Forget that. It's all about the next four weeks. All about the endless merry-go-round and pursuit of personnel, the football festivities and over-indulgence that is the January transfer window.
Officially it is open season until Wednesday the 31st at 11pm, although you can't expect everyone to give up their habit at the drop of a hat – hence why we get a few more hours of fun before going to bed.
Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy transfer windows. I'm not sure they are the best way for football to deal with its player market and some of the timings – especially the delayed closure of the summer window beyond the start of the season – really need fixing.
Yet one way or another, whether it's the current system or what the future holds, there will always be transfer speculation and a deadline to meet. Getting annoyed with it is futile.
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So what of Norwich City this January? It's a question we can answer with a better degree of certainty now we're halfway though the season, the Canaries' financial predicaments have been laid bare and the majority of the squad is fit.
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Sporting director Stuart Webber noted he was happy enough with the squad and its balance as City left August, as well as his reluctance to deal in a winter month that offers inflation on prices and pressure on finding replacements.
And yet, such intentions are the equivalent to what Grant Hanley said about Burton: 'We said in the dressing room before the game let's not get sucked into their style of play. You can say in the dressing room things like that before the game, but it doesn't always go that way.'
The big question is what are City actually going to be aiming to achieve over the next month?
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Well it won't be chasing players to improve the squad for a promotion push this season. The current group is going to have to be deemed good enough, given it's already proving expensive enough. Interchanging those facts doesn't take four weeks. However…
I'm sure there will be the aim of shedding some senior figures if the right interest comes along.
From Russell Martin and Steven Naismith available for loan, to Cameron Jerome pursued by a host of Championship clubs – the mood music suggests Webber and head coach Daniel Farke would be fine with losing three of his most experienced campaigners, for the right deals.
I'm sure there will also be a look at remoulding the squad with an eye on next season, and following the endeavours of past windows.
As much as some supporters may feel Yanic Wildschut has been given limited opportunities, it is hard to put forward a case that Farke rates his Dutch winger – and that seems unlikely to change, whether it's this month or next season.
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Wildschut is only one example of course, in a squad that still has fat to trim in some areas more than others.
And I'm sure there will be some serious battling to keep hold of the big ones.
James Maddison, Alex Pritchard, Josh Murphy – all will attract interest. Some already have.
Just because they are listed together here, don't be mistaken that their situations are the same.
Some will earn more money than others. Some will be more easily replaced. Some will get a bidding war going, or could even be bought and loaned back if the right bidder enters the fray.
Perhaps that is why this month is different to so many recent January windows, because the story won't entirely be about who goes, who stays or even who comes in.
No, it's an intriguing month because this is a window – a very small one – into what awaits much beyond it. And that is something everyone will need to adjust to.
• First things first, City's festive results could have been a lot worse.
Earning seven points following that horrible night at home to Brentford was an excellent and necessary recovery, while the way City dug in against Millwall on New Year's Day should offer some hear too.
With players back fit and options for Daniel Farke, I would really like to think Norwich can kick on from here.
But having played three struggling sides since the Championship's halfway point, one look at the games coming up shows exactly why the degree of City's improvement is yet to revel itself.
• I'll be honest here. It feels like Norwich City's Premier League past is a little too recent to get caught up in much FA Cup hype ahead of Chelsea's visit on Saturday.
Norwich struggled to take much off the mega-rich Russians when they shared a division, which should add a bit of context to what they will try to achieve at the weekend.
In fact, the Canaries haven't beaten Chelsea in 13 attempts, since a 3-0 home win back in late 1994 – incidentally a season fresh from Uefa Cup football that would also bring top-flight relegation.
And yes before that, City lost just six times in 32 games against the Blues in a run that stretched back all the way to 1972.
We should all be glad money doesn't intrinsically affect football.
• A new year means more fun and games from the Norwich City Fans Social Club.
For their latest night, they have booked in Bryan Gunn, Jamie Cureton and Bill Punton for some serious football journeying. The night takes place at Carrow Road on Thursday, January 19 – and should be well worth the effort.
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