Norwich City boss has already shown he can master the transfer market
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Managers are only as good as the signings they make.
You could be the kind of tactical master that would give Rinus Michels a run for his money but if you can't identify the players you need to improve your side then you're going backwards.
It's a tricky business in more ways than one – even Sir Alex Ferguson could be prone to getting it hideously wrong. Eric Djemba-Djemba turned out not to be so good they named him twice and the less said about Massimo Taibi the better.
No manager gets it right every time – if he did he could demand even more money than Pep Guardiola this summer.
But get one deal right and it can go a long way to making your season.
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There was a general sense of frustration inside and out of Carrow Road around the summer transfer window.
However, in hindsight the club got one deal very right indeed. Robbie Brady has been City's outstanding performer of the season so far and is arguably the frontrunner for the club's player of the season award.
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The £7m fee paid to Hull has been Alex Neil's best piece of transfer business since his arrival last January and the statistics back it up. The fact it felt like payback after the Tigers signed Robert Snodgrass from City the previous season was an added bonus.
Brady has provided a real threat down the left flank, providing 165 corners or crosses so far this season – that's more than 100 more than their next highest player.
He has also laid on a club-high 33 chances for his team-mates and made 68 tackles – 26 more than any of his team-mates.
If that's not enough then he has also covered more ground than any of Alex Neil's squad, racking up 232.8km so far. Alex Tettey is the next best on 213.1km.
The Irishman has also clocked up 1,069 sprints so far this term; a total second only to Jonny Howson.
There is still some debate round where his best position is, particularly after he was exposed against Bournemouth last weekend at left back. However, Neil plans on continuing to use him further back.
'I think he is better at left-back than one further forward, if I am being honest,' he said. 'I think he is better when the game is all in front of him. That is probably his biggest asset because it allows him to use his pace. I have got stats that suggest he crosses more balls from left-back than he does left-wing. The full-backs become wingers in transition whereas the modern wide player instead of hugging the touchline, as they used, find themselves inverted and coming inside and picking up pockets and holes.
'For Robbie, he has had his most effective games, in my eyes, at left-back since he has been here.'
Whether he's a left-back or a left winger, the addition of Brady at least demonstrated that when Neil wants to shell out a significant amount of money, he gets it right.
In a week when City have spent the best part of £20m on players, that will prove heartening for both the board and its supporters.
There are no guarantees either Steven Naismith or Timm Klose, inset, will be successful at Carrow Road – there never are with new players, particularly in January when it traditionally takes players longer to settle.
But both come with a pedigree that suggests they could provide the impetus needed to secure Premier League survival.
It would also have the added the bonus of proving Neil is as good as we all think he is.