I`ll stick my neck out and say that the signing of Patrick Bamford will be a good thing for Norwich City. Goals have been difficult to come by for our strikers and at the moment we only really have Mbokani and Jerome as front line options. Forget Kyle Lafferty, Alex Neil thinks he is a long ball striker and that is the reason he has been effective for Northern Ireland. Norwich City don`t play that way, so he doesn`t fit the required profile.
Gary Hooper, much beloved of many City fans, was also not going to fit the Neil profile for a striker. He can`t play as a lone front man and in my opinion was a touch lazy. Yes, I`ve seen those scoring statistics but he just didn`t do enough for me. He would be the perfect “little man” in a 4-4-2 formation, playing off a “big man” foil but we don`t and won`t play that way under Alex Neil. The 4-4-2 isn`t flexible or solid enough at this level when most of your opponents are playing a variant of 4-2-3-1.
It`s a good move personally for Bamford as well. There was not a snowball`s chance in hell that he would get any game time at Chelsea. Patrick Bamford and the rest of the youth set up at Stamford Bridge are nothing more than a token effort to create the illusion that they don`t just buy all their players, which of course they do.
The fact that the last Chelsea youth team prospect to actually make it at Stamford Bridge was John Terry, says it all about how they go about things there. They have bought the best youth team in the country but seldom give any of them a first team chance. At 22 years old, Bamford is in no man`s land with the Blues. They have clearly only let him out on loan once the loan deal for Alexandre Pato was signed and sealed and the fact it`s Pato staggers me. Not content with paying some absurd wage for Falcao, who is on a season long loan from Monaco with seemingly no mid-loan break agreement (another shocker), they`re now going to do the same with Pato.
Falcao proved last season that he is a shadow of his former self and he`s proving that again this season. Pato`s form (which used to be very good) collapsed at AC Milan and he moved back to Brazil in 2013 at the age of 23, he`s only 26 now! Players move to Europe from South America because they are good and then return there in the twilight of their careers (eg Tevez and Ronaldinho), not when they`re 23.
The likes of Falcao and Pato are “blockers” to the first team for a player like Patrick Bamford. I`ll predict now that even if he scores ten goals in the next four months for Norwich, that Chelsea won`t give him the chance he craves. Instead, they will spend between £30-50m on another foreign striker with a big reputation. It`s just the way things go at the top of the big leagues around Europe. Bamford will eventually have to move on for regular football.
It could easily be argued that Norwich have done the same thing recently with the likes of Connor McGrandles, Jamar Loza, The Murphy brothers etc, but I suppose the difference is that we don`t (yet) pay £1m for 12 year old boys. We do currently have “one of our own” as our first team goal keeper as well. At Norwich, we are starting to pick up young players, like Ben Godfrey (18yrs) and pay quite a lot for them. Chelsea have been doing this for years but all across Europe and paying a fortune for their youngsters.
Remember Gael Kakuta? In 2007, Chelsea signed the young French winger from Lens in a controversial transfer when he was just 16. Lens claimed that their young prospect had been tapped up by Chelsea and that all sorts of incentives had been offered to him and his family. He joined Lens aged 9 and signed a pre-contract at 14, promising to sign a professional contract at 17. Chelsea didn`t think that was enforceable and signed him, sparking much outcry in France and initially a two window transfer ban for the blues that was lifted upon appeal. However, FIFA found Chelsea guilty of inducing the youngster to breach his contract.
The case rumbled on and in 2010, Lens (who were in financial difficulty at the time) agreed a $1.5m out of court settlement with Chelsea. On the pitch, Kakuta made just 6 starts for Chelsea in six years and was loaned to six different clubs in five different countries in that time before eventually leaving Stamford Bridge last summer for Sevilla, when his contract expired.
Bamford`s situation is not dissimilar but without the controversy. He came through the youth system at Nottingham Forest, joining them in 2001 aged 8 years. He made his first team debut for Forest in December 2011 and a month later was purchased by Chelsea for £1.5m aged 18 years. He has never made a senior appearance for Chelsea and Norwich are his fifth loan club since signing for the blues. A familiar pattern is appearing eh?
Anyway, rant over. It`s nice that we`re signing decent players and that the board are making the necessary investment to keep the club in the Premier League. I think Bamford is a good player and a great prospect. He needs a run in a team to get back to proving his worth. He showed he can play at ‘Boro last season and like any player, needs a run of games to get to the optimum performance he can be capable of. Is he good enough for the Premier League and Norwich City`s current predicament? Only time will tell but he`s a good option to have for Alex Neil and I`m pleased he chose Norfolk for the next stage of his career.