After a week which had a racism row, Mark Bright acting like a child, a confirmed date for the kit launch, the release of our pre-season fixtures and almost endless speculation about players, it was nice to have a weekend to calm things down. However, if we weren’t quite aware this is a whole new era for Norwich, Saturday went and proved it as the club released confirmation that Steve Morison (where’s the other R?) is going to sign from Millwall. I mean, a Saturday signing? Really? Anyway, Morison put the final nail in his South London coffin by telling the Sun that Millwall a bunch of fickle, whiny tarts who made him put in a transfer request before rejecting it.
The long and short of his interview was this: he wants to play for Norwich, and he wants to play at the top. It’s not about money (though he will no doubt be on more here than at Miwwaww), it’s about taking the chance while it’s there. For all those who complain about no loyalty in the game, it’s simply evolved from a community based working class pursuit to global industry, and Morison wants to do the best he can in the limited time these players call a career. The fact is, you never know what’s around the corner; he might not move this summer, then a freak injury could end things. Or his form goes to pot. Or he is torn limb from limb by the rampaging hordes of window licking thugs collectively known as Millwall fans. Anything can happen. Like our Grant Holt, Steve has played at the bottom, he’s paid his dues and done his part time job, and now he’s chomping at the bit to prove himself at the top. I say we lock him in a cage, feed him raw meat all summer and let him loose in August.
Now at the pace Norwich seem to be going through signings, we’re going to have them all here by the time the kit is launched on Wednesday. If Vaughan and Morison weren’t enough, we are either about to sign/close to signing/bidding for Robert Snodgrass, Elliott Bennett, Peter Whittingham, Bradley Johnson, Leon Osman and Liam Ridgewell. I think they were all seen together in ASDA, though reports of them buying some chocolates and a DVD of The Notebook are unconfirmed.
This is New Norwich. Old Norwich (little Norwich) didn’t do business until July because players were on holiday, or something. Lambert has no concern, as he races from the traps with a clear aim in mind; get everyone at the club as soon as possible, get them training together, and we’ll have a team by August. I imagine he’ll have them all by the time they go to Germany to be honest. Now, whether any of that bunch are ‘Lambert players’ (hunger, desire, etc, etc) remains to be seen, but if I were a betting man, I would expect to see Elliott Bennett at the very least lining up in yellow. The rumours about Bradley Johnson seem to have substance too.
So what can we take from this? To some, it looks unambitious. I’ve seen it on forums and heard it from rivals fans, that we’re building a squad ready for the Championship after our inevitable relegation. But you would have thought Lambert would get more credit (this isn’t to slight 99% of Norwich fans who are fully behind the signings) after he turned a disparate group of lower league journeymen into a promotion powerhouse last year. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but this is clearly Lamberts; get the players who want it, who have something to prove, who’ll go out there and run through fire for the club, for themselves and for their teammates. It’s not the only philosophy that works, but its Lamberts, and it’s worked so far.
Meanwhile, up in Yorkshire, Ken Bates has gathered all his cronies, put his pinky to his mouth and stated he wants five million pounds for Snodgrass. If any request ever showed the sheer insanity and inflation of British players, this is it. Snodgrass, a very talented player without doubt, has played one season at Championship level and the asking price is £5m? Whether Lambert thinks this is worthwhile is yet to be seen, and paying a premium may be the cost of trying to keep all the business domestic. But it’s still a joke.
Finally, if the new kit on Wednesday isn’t the sexiest thing seen in Norwich since Keith O’Neill at his peak, I may go postal. After this wait, I have high expectations.