There’s been a lot of talk among Norwich fans about finances and in particular, whether or not the club are having or need to have a ‘fire sale.’
The state of the current transfer market is the key to this as well as some clearly poor wheeling and dealings by the previous management/recruitment team.
As most of you will know, a manager or in our case a Head Coach, will generally give his recruitment team a list of the positions and type of players he wants to sign and the recruitment team will then present him with several options. There are exceptions to this at the highest levels when a coach will know the position he wants to fill and the name of the player he wants to fill it. This sort of transfer activity will generally go on at the big clubs like the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea etc.
For years, Real Madrid would only sign ‘Galacticos’ but Norwich City aren’t in that boat, most of the time.
For example, when City bought Timm Klose, there were several names on the list to fill the same role as Timm but perhaps a player doesn’t want to move, or he wants too much money or he doesn’t fancy a move to Norfolk (like Toby Alderweireld).
Timm clearly wanted to come to Norfolk and try his luck in the Premier League and a deal was agreed between the player and the two clubs involved. I suspect it was slightly different with Steven Naismith as this was a player that Alex Neil clearly wanted by name. The talk is though that Naismith didn’t have a ‘relegation’ clause in his contract and is still on big money – almost certainly the highest paid player at the club.
That’s where it started to go wrong in terms of salary because without Premier League money or a very rich owner, £40k odd a week is going to start sapping the coffers.
At least Naismith plays though, another player on big money that doesn’t do much other than keep the physios busy is Matt Jarvis, who is also a big earner. Get a few of these rich lads in the squad and you’ll soon be in trouble if you remain in the Championship for any length of time.
Last summer, Ross McCormack was wanted by Alex Neil, by name but in the end, another £40k a week salary and a £12m fee was just too steep a mountain to climb.
It’s a transfer market where a player like Adnan Januzaj can still command a fee of around £9.8m as he prepares to sign for Real Sociedad.
When a player like Januzaj, although clearly talented but having produced so little for the last three years, costs that much, you can see why a player like Jacob Murphy could be valued at £16m+.
Januzaj has failed to kick on in a stop/start career that saw him loaned to Sunderland last season. David Moyes again failed to get a tune out of him and so, United have rather surprisingly found someone who will pay nearly £10m quid for him and want to cash in.
If I was a betting man, I’d say that the young Belgian won’t make it and Sociedad will be wasting their money.
I read today that Middlesbrough are keen on Britt Assombalonga, a player coveted by Norwich fans for at least a couple of years now. Forest reportedly want £15m for him, a player that scored 14 goals in the Championship last season but has been beset by injury for as long as the Canary nation have coveted him.
To put that into perspective, Cameron Jerome scored 16 goals in the Championship last season.
My point is that the cost of football players has gone beserk and that is where the money has gone. Norwich City need Premier League money to keep competitive and to maintain a quality squad.
At the moment that is sustainable but it won’t be forever. We might currently have an embarrassment of attacking riches but we need another centre back and we need another midfielder and probably a striker too.
The defender is the most important as I see it and he won’t be cheap. The talk in Germany of a bid for Toni Leistner of FC Union Berlin seems currently to be below the amount needed to see Berlin’s board gasping for a glass of water.
Our best bet is to go for players that see Norwich City as a step up, rather than a sideways move or a step down. A fee had been agreed with Ajax for Toby Alderweireld but the Belgian felt we were beneath him, proving my theory.
He ended up at Atletico Madrid, then Southampton and then Spurs.
When City were in League One and then the Championship under Paul Lambert, we signed players who saw us as a step up, like Grant Holt, Anthony Pilkington, Bradley Johnson and John Ruddy.
None cost a fortune and all had their wages improved as a result of the move to Norfolk and they had a hunger to improve. That’s what we need to do again and so far, the new regime are adopting that policy.
Watkins, Vrancic, Husband and Zimmermann are all in that category and the loans of Gunn and Reed will give them the big stage and regular football they crave.
I’m pretty happy with the way things have been going this summer and it’s worth noting that at this time last summer, we had signed nobody.
We are not in the market for Assombalonga at £15m and good luck to Forest if they can get it. Instead, we will see our recruitment team look for cheaper but just as effective options from the continent for substantially less money. It worked a treat for Huddersfield and there’s no reason it can’t work for us.
A word of caution though, all these new players may take time to bed in, as will the 4-1-4-1 system that Daniel Farke is likely to employ more often than not.
In fact I’d go so far as to say I’m not expecting a top two finish, more like challenging for the top six. If automatic promotion comes than that’s great but I think a top six finish is a more achievable target.