Norwich City’s five best and five worst January transfer window signings

Russell Martin scores against Ipswich Town. Picture: James Bass

Russell Martin scores against Ipswich Town. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

With the transfer window closing on Monday evening, MICHAEL BAILEY takes a look at the best and worst January signings at Carrow Road

Expensive, inconvenient and a horrible time to do business – it's fair to say not everyone has fallen in love with the enigmatic delights of January's transfer window.

First, a brief history lesson. The phenomenon of manic January has only been around since 2003. And even then, it was a few seasons before the Football League needed to toe the line that was Fifa's shackles on club recruitment.

That's why you won't be seeing Darren Huckerby's arrival in 2003 on these lists – also because it happened in December, but you get the point.

In truth, the Canaries' band of January recruits is fairly exclusive given we are talking roughly a decade of activity. Plus the amount of arrivals is nowhere near the usual close-season turnover.

And the case increases when you ignore the pre-January loans made permanent come the turn of the year – and yes, we have included those in this.

What of the unmentioned then – as maybe you'd like to consider them in your own lists? Well, the likes of Aaron Wilbraham, Marc Tierney, Oli Johnson, Ryan Bennett, Zak Whitbread, Carl Robinson, Matty Pattison and Dickson Etuhu can all lay claim to making January arrivals at Carrow Road – I'll let you decide whether it was the hit or miss pile they came closest to joining.

Most Read

The impression the January window leaves is one that usually backs up the preconceptions and clichés. Business can be expensive, and rarely does it have a profound affect on your season. Maybe Dean Ashton here is the one exception.

We're still to find out how this window will fare for City – Jos Hooiveld's cancelled loan is the only business to date, with the soon-opening loan window hovering in the background.

But what's a transfer window for, if not to have some fun at its expense…




Robert Earnshaw

Fee: £3.5m (from West Brom)

Appearances: 32 (Jan 2006 to June 2007)

With the task of reinvesting their huge Dean Ashton income, the Canaries opted for a deadline day move to bring in Robert Earnshaw – about the best form of guaranteeing goals English football offered at the time. And the little Welshman didn't disappoint, leading the second-tier scoring charts in his second season, before injury ended it early. So when the likes Premier League Derby came calling that summer, City got their money back – but dearly struggled to find a replacement.

Verdict: HIT

Simon Lappin

Fee: £100,000 (from St Mirren)

Appearances: 121 (Jan 2007 to Jan 2013)

Sometimes a transfer is about that little bit more… Simon Lappin's arrival wasn't for much money and came via Peter Grant, who didn't hang around long. Sometimes Lappin was out of the loop or having to wait around. But he was always popular. Whenever he was given a chance, be it third tier or top-flight, he rose to the occasion. Norwich City fans will long remember the man with a sweet left foot, the wing-back that never got to play as a wing-back in a yellow shirt, and the player known simply as the King of Spain. Not bad for £100,000.

Verdict: HIT

Russell Martin

Fee: Undisclosed (from Peterborough Utd)

Appearances: 208 (Jan 2010 to present)

Captain and leader, with promotions at City and now a regular for Scotland – Martin has come a long way since his November loan move was made permanent in the January of 2010. The move turned the former Peterborough United skipper into a key member of Paul Lambert's League One promotion squad – and City went on to establish themselves in the Premier League. At every level, every step forward, Martin stepped up. And even recent debates over the position he should play are testament to his quality.

Verdict: HIT

Jonny Howson

Fee: £2m (from Leeds Utd)

Appearances: 89 (Jan 2012 to present)

After the Canaries went through their patch of plucking every talented footballer from Elland Road and giving them a shot at Carrow Road, Jonny Howson's departure is the one that still irks in Yorkshire. And the majority of regular City watchers will see why. The midfielder is missed when he's is unavailable – which has been more often than anyone would like. But when he is in the side, his quality is hard to ignore. The loyal Yorkshireman was good value – and deserves to be playing on a Premier League stage.

Verdict: HIT

Dean Ashton

Fee: £3.5m (from Crewe)

Appearances: 46 (Jan 2005 to Jan 2006)

The only issue with Dean Ashton's arrival was that it came five months too late to save City's top-flight status. The fact the Canaries could double their money on the striker in just 12 months said it all. Despite his relatively short stay, he remains one of the most gifted forwards to turn out for the Canaries. Even the way it all broke down in the Championship shouldn't detract from that.

Verdict: HIT




Luciano Becchio

Fee: Undisclosed (from Leeds Utd)

Appearances: 16 (Jan 2013 to present)

He was brought in to enable Steve Morison's exit in the opposite direction – and with the specific task of taking a prolific Championship scoring record straight into the Premier League. The whole move by Chris Hughton was designed for Becchio to do that age-old thing of hitting the ground running. In the opening moments of his full home debut, he missed a chance against Fulham – from that point on, it felt like that was that. The Argentine striker has been injured, out on loan, constantly linked with a move away and ultimately given few chances to shine. His current Carrow Road deal runs until the summer of 2016.

Verdict: MISS

Luke Chadwick

Fee: £200,000 (from Stoke)

Appearances: 18 (Jan 2007 to Jan 2009)

The thing about Luke Chadwick was he always looked good when he played – it just didn't happen enough. The winger joined on loan in November and made his debut at Ipswich, where he scored early before being sent into advertising hoardings and seriously cutting his leg. Those 90 minutes pretty much summed up the former Manchester United man's spell at City. He was still sidelined with the injury when his loan move was made permanent in the January – but he only managed to cobble 17 more appearances together before leaving for MK Dons.

Verdict: MISS

Chris Brown

Fee: £325,000 (from Sunderland)

Appearances: 24 (Jan 2007 to Jan 2008)

Chris Brown will tell you himself – he wasn't right when he was at Norwich City. A long-standing hamstring problem took too long to get to the bottom of. And ultimately the promise of a relatively young, powerful target man became a January signing that never really worked out. In truth, while Brown has been an awkward customer for many defenders over the years, he has never really been prolific. And when it came to making up for the departed goals of Robert Earnshaw, Brown simply wasn't able to help shoulder the burden.

Verdict: MISS

Anthony McNamee

Fee: Undisclosed (from Swindon)

Appearances: 37 (Jan 2010 to Aug 2011)

The thing that really marks Anthony McNamee's entry in the miss list is the potential. The winger was a real live-wire while at Swindon. One of their top men and someone expected to shine when the Canaries came knocking with a November loan move following a lengthy pursuit. City chased and took the League One title. But while McNamee was meant to be a catalyst, he was only ever a bit part. He contributed in fits and starts, but never hit the heights. His career tailed away after his exit, and he's currently without a club.

Verdict: MISS

Mark Fotheringham

Fee: Free agent

Appearances: 69 (Jan 2007 to Apr 2009)

I have to be honest here – if this was a list of four, Mark Fotheringham wouldn't be included. He was skipper, looked after the ball pretty well and had a good pedigree with his upbringing at Celtic. He was cheap too. But at a time when the Canaries were ready to implode, Fozzy seemed to lead the charge. His big fall-out came at home to Coventry in March 2009, after manager Bryan Gunn substituted his captain. The ensuing situation saw the Scot stripped of the captaincy and a month later, leave the club. Norwich were relegated to League One at the end of the season. In many ways, Fozzy was the City's Canary in the coal mine.

Verdict: MISS

But what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and check back for our live transfer window coverage on Monday.