Ricky van Wolfswinkel signing proves Norwich City can keep wolf from the door
- Credit: Press Association Images
It's amazing how one man can change a dynamic, but the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel has done just that for Norwich City.
The Dutchman's move from Sporting Lisbon won't happen until the end of the summer, but the crosses have already gone on those nasty little Is and Ts that so often get in the way and City will, indeed, have a brand spanking new and expensive striker for next season.
The deal was sealed late on Friday night and immediately flagged up on the club website - it was late, but, hey, this was genuinely good news that needed to be out there ASAP. What it prompted was one of the biggest reactions I have seen in some time from City fans.
Darren Huckerby's arrival, various managerial comings and goings, relegations and promotions - they are guaranteed sellers. This one was up there with them all.
Now come the debates, the questions, the theories, the conjecture - and the hope.
What's interesting is the idea that City have now assumed they are safe from relegation: the 2013-14 Premier League ticket hasn't been guaranteed just yet, but it's close enough to be confident. But here's the ambitious bit: the RVW transfer will go ahead no matter what. That means the player and the club have a shared confidence of continued success - and at the moment, that translates into continued membership of the poshest club in town.
If the worst happened, RVW would still be a Norwich City player - but for the last few days, not many City fans have been thinking of that possibility.
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Intent - a word you might have thought was reserved for the arms of Mark Bunn and Sebastien Bassong - is important. Signing a player of the stature of RVW shows an intent for the future. In very general terms it would be fair to say the policy of the club is to ensure the financial wolves, as opposed to the playing Wolf, are kept from the door, while at the same time spending carefully enough on players who are good enough to keep the club in the Premier League. Gradually, with more income from longer stays in the top flight, the quality of the playing squad increases, as does the chance of City staying put.
A former chief executive was vilified for his use of the phrase 'prudence with ambition', but there stills exists ambition and there still exists prudence. Without that there is a danger splashing out on a squad of Finidi Georges and Matteo Serenis.
In recent years City have progressed from, largely, six-figure signings who have helped move the club through the gears of League One and the Championship, through to million-pound plus signings, who keep them there. But to keep them there, the price goes up. Which is fine by all of us - as long as Chris Hughton and chief executive David McNally can keep identify for the value for money buys.
But how does RVW's imminent arrival affect the here and now? I mused over the weekend at the morale boost it gives to everyone, but the subliminal message is the one that keeps all players on their toes. No doubt the striking contingent at Carrow Road will have considered the ramifications: Grant Holt's future has been debated almost as much as RVW's arrival. And if RVW is on the way, who's next?
• ENGLISH FOOTBALL'S TOP DUTCH IMPORTS
The best of the lot. Signed by ex-Canaries boss Bruce Rioch for Arsenal in 1995 for £7.5m, Bergkamp had a sublime touch: was first, second and third in Match of the Day's Goal of the Month in August 1997.
Had three years at Highbury under Arsene Wenger after moving from Ajax in 1997. A right-footed left winger, with pace to burn, an accurate shot and as slippery as an eel.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Joined Manchester United in 1997 for then Britih record fee of £19m. Scored 150 goals in 219 games for United before falling out of favour with Sir Alex Ferguson and moving on to Real Madrid.