Why did cover not come earlier?

The transfer deadline day was as dramatic as it's been for some time at Carrow Road.

The transfer deadline day was as dramatic as it's been for some time at Carrow Road. Chief executive Neil Doncaster's excellent insight into the club's trials and tribulations on Thursday made for fascinating reading in yesterday's EDP, but now the dust has settled, we're left with the reality that we have an even weaker squad than we did two days ago.

If the club's version of events is to be believed - and there is no reason to doubt it - we were stitched up right and proper by David Cotterill. The fact that he had a medical and even went as far as agreeing terms and conditions suggests he led us right up the garden path before letting us down at the last minute.

However, although Cotterill may have done the dirty on us, there are at least two key questions that emerge from the saga.

First, why were we still scrabbling around looking for a striker at 6pm on transfer deadline day? And secondly, why is it that time after time we seem to lose out to teams who we should be holding our own against in the transfer market?


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On the first point, there was a clear link between the sale of Leon McKenzie and the purchase of Cotterill. As Doncaster explained in his column, the Canaries made it clear to all parties involved in the negotiations that they saw the two deals as being linked.

But the crucial point, surely, is that we needed a new striker even without McKenzie's departure.

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Funds may be tighter than they are at other clubs, but we have just received a substantial fee from West Ham for Robert Green, and Nigel Worthington has been looking for another forward for months.

Our attacking options are limited to Robert Earnshaw, Darren Huckerby, Lee Croft, Paul McVeigh and Peter Thorne, with the likes of Ryan Jarvis and Ian Henderson in reserve.

Of those, Huckerby and Croft are wingers rather than conventional strikers, Thorne has spent more time in the treatment room than on the training pitch, and Henderson and Jarvis have yet to show their true potential.

So if something happens to Earnshaw, we'll be up a dirty brown creek in a barbed wire canoe without a paddle.

On the second point, although it should not surprise anyone that Wigan have bigger pockets than we do, the Cotterill affair is just the latest example of us losing out to teams that we should be competing with.

Look at our signings over the past couple of years. Dickson Etuhu, Carl Robinson, Andy Hughes, Peter Thorne, Lee Croft and even Robert Earnshaw were players we signed without there being a tough fight for their signatures (publicly, at least). But when it comes to going head to head with other clubs, we seem to lose out more often than not.

Leeds beat us to Geoff Horsfield, Derby beat us to Steve Howard and now Wigan have beaten us to Cotterill. I'm sure there will be factors peculiar to each case (maybe Worthington didn't think Howard was worth £1m and Cotterill wanted to play in the Premiership), but there seems to be a pattern emerging in which other clubs leave us standing when a race starts for a player's signature.

It's been well documented that once Worthington gets a player through the gates at Colney or shows him around the city, half the job is done. And the manager is clearly a good salesman once is he has his target within his sights.

But where we seem to fall down is making headway with players once another team shows an interest.

Now the transfer deadline has passed, loans remain a possibility, but as we've found over recent years, Worthington's record with temporary signings has been mixed.

The signings of Huckerby, Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper in 2003 put us on the road to promotion.

The signings of David Bentley and Dean Marney over the following two seasons were potentially smart pieces of business that were ruined by injuries.

And the signings of Zesh Rehman and Kevin Lisbie last year were - at best - unremarkable. Jonatan Johannsen did OK, but he was never given the chance to shine as he might have done.

We've got a good team, and if our first-choice 11 can stay fit then we'll have a decent chance this season.

But we've got not such a strong squad, so if anything does happen to our key players then Worthington is going to have to pluck some pretty good rabbits from his hat and surpass himself with his loan signings.

t ALL THE BEST, LEON

I said last week that we might only get one more chance to see Leon McKenzie in a Norwich shirt, and unfortunately I was right.

Although he got a mixed reception from the crowd against Barnsley, the cheers just about won the day.

I wish McKenzie well, and I hope his move to the Midlands will give him the chance to sort out the issues that have clearly been bothering him. We haven't done too badly out of the deal, either, and a possible £1m is a good price for him.

But I have been proven wrong so far over Carl Robinson. I wouldn't have picked him at the start of the season, and even until last week I would have opted for McKenzie up front at the expense of Robinson in midfield.

Against Barnsley, however, he gave another assured display and capped his performance with a cracking goal.

More of the same and I won't be the only one eating my words.

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