Paddy Davitt: Norwich City banking on the Cameron Jerome of Championship vintage

Cameron Jerome has pledged his future to Norwich City until potentially June 2020. Picture by Paul C

Cameron Jerome has pledged his future to Norwich City until potentially June 2020. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Chief Norwich writer Paddy Davitt gives his verdict on Cameron Jerome's new City contract, in the latest part of a summer series.

Cameron Jerome's new Norwich City deal perhaps brings home the reality of the Canaries' Championship status.

Had Alex Neil's squad retained their Premier League membership a longer term contract for the striker who, more than most, typified the club's collective struggles at the sharp end would have hardly triggered a ripple.

Jerome's Carrow Road extension through such a filter is portrayed as good house-keeping, a small step in a grander summer expansion plan fuelled by the massive increase in broadcast revenue.

Norwich's straightened circumstances back in the Football League, the huge drop in their financial safety net - irrespective of increased parachute payments - requires a different, more pragmatic approach. City will still aim to be proactive in the transfer market and Neil is under no pressure to offload any of his biggest names but inevitably there must be a degree of regeneration to prepare for a difficult challenge for the club and to sate the desires of certain individuals who perhaps view their career progression on a higher level.

That is the natural order of things and one of the consequences of demotion. In such a climate, Jerome's fresh deal may prove good business. Neil himself alluded to the striker's proven pedigree in the Championship on Monday and although the stated ambition is a swift exit, they need to retain a core of players who know what lies in store; how to handle the physical and mental grind of tough Tuesday nights away at Huddersfield or Rotherham. That was the same mantra when Steven Whittaker signed a new contract earlier this summer and even at this early stage of the close-season horse-trading there is a consistency in approach to Neil's dealings.

Jerome will get more chances in a side who most would expect to dominate possession and territory in the majority of their league tussles back in the Championship. Such a dynamic marks a radical shift. Norwich justifiably can expect to be the aggressor for the most part and Jerome proved 12 months or so ago he has the ability to convert a steady stream of chances from a dominant midfield and attacking full-backs. Those majestic, instinctive goals at Brentford and Bournemouth or the cheeky back-heel at home to Nottingham Forest on City's triumphant march back to the Premier League under Neil painted Jerome in his most flattering light; full of confidence, willing to try things and, crucially, with the quality to execute successfully.

That was the Jerome Norwich need to see again. Not the recent vintage who looked weighed down with the pressure of a relegation battle, snatching at chances and displaying a chronic lack of composure knowing one spurned opportunity was as good as it got in too many Premier League outings.

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With Jerome on board, Neil can turn his attentions to the rest of his striking options. Kyle Lafferty's future looks to be away from Carrow Road, unless City's relegation triggers an unlikely rapprochement for the Northern Ireland striker, who has finished both of the last two seasons at Carrow Road on-loan. Dieu Mbokani and Patrick Bamford have returned to their parent clubs, Jamar Loza was deemed surplus to requirements and the returning Ricky van Wolfswinkel's future also looks away from Carrow Road. City will need more than Jerome back at his potent best to score in the quantities required to launch a winning surge. But the 29-year-old's athleticism and willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good fit the model of Neil's Norwich. Jerome played a huge part in getting his club into the Premier League. Now he needs to produce an encore.

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