Certainly it’s early days in the team strengthening job that Paul Lambert has on his hands. However, based on the noises coming from Lambert and the transfer policy we have seen from the Scotsman since he has been at Norwich, we can have some idea on the sort of players he will be going after.
Two words we constantly hear from Paul Lambert, when discussing transfers is young & hungry. However, clearly he would also like Premier League experience where he can get it. His first signing James Vaughan from Everton manages to qualify on all three fronts. At 22 years of age there is no debate about whetever he is young or not. Is he hungry to perform at the Premier League? I think so, when James Vaughan first emerged on the scene as a youngster at Everton it looked as if he was going to have a long career as a Premier League footballer. However, for whatever reason he never really managed to cement his place in the Everton first-team – which is a bit strange given the amount of problems Everton have had with strikers over the years.
A succession of loan spells followed the latest being at Crystal Palace. Now, had Vaughan not signed for Norwich, he would have most likely have signed a permanent deal with Crystal Palace or gone out on loan again. Palace themselves admitted they wanted to sign Vaughan but couldn’t compete with a Premier League club. So it’s fair to say that James Vaughan didn’t expect to be playing Premier League football this season. And given what has gone on with Everton – surely he feels he has something to prove – so surely that is hunger. But he also brings with him that much needed Premier League know-how and he will know what Norwich need to do in order to compete in arguably the world’s best league.
But who else will join Paul Lambert’s Premier League revolution? Time will tell and plenty of names are doing the rounds. But any player that does come in will have been considered for some time and the signing will not be taken lightly. As expected Paul Lambert has recently confirmed he will not be on the lookout for household names and will not be paying out extreme wages. That is exactly the right philosophy and I firmly believe it gives Norwich the best chance of success.
It is all very well clever journalists dropping names like Miroslav Klose into the mix. But anyone that knows the sort of manager Paul Lambert is would have known this one was never going to be a runner. A signing like that would not only demand extremely high wages – but would feel that the team should be built around him and he is bigger than the club. A big part of Norwich City’s success over the last couple of seasons has been a result of the excellent team spirit. Team spirit will be vital for any success Norwich enjoys next season. Any new signing has to fit in to the Norwich City ethos and not upset it.
One player who appears to be close to joining Norwich is Millwall striker Steve Morison. It appears that Norwich has perhaps bid as many as four times for the striker and finally Millwall are happy with the deal on the table – which certainly seems to be in excess of £2m. At 27, the striker should be coming into his prime – although it’s debatable whetever or not he qualifies on the” young” criteria. But if you are going to move into the Premier League then now is the time for Morison and he will certainly be hungry to deliver. Morison has been superb in the past two seasons for Millwall, scoring 20 league goals in League One last season and 15 goals in the Championship this season. So he will know be eager to show what he can do in the Premier League.
Other names that have been in the mix recently include Peterborough striker Craig Mackail Smith and Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard. We know all about the interest in Mackail Smith – after Paul Lambert made attempts to sign him in January. Jimmy Bullard is more interesting – because at 32 he doesn’t seem to fit the “young” tag. But what he does offer is Premier League experience and real quality – particularly when striking the ball from distant. Craig Mackail Smith offers a fantastic work rate and you can’t really complain with a goals return of 30 league goals, but the difference between League One and Premier League is massive.
However, we don’t know if any bids have been lodged for either of those two players – but we have recently heard that Lambert put in a bid for Leeds midfielder Robert Snodgrass believed to be around £3.5m. The offer though has been turned down and it remains to be seen if Norwich will have another go. Snodgrass though does seem to be the sort of player that you would expect Lambert to be interesting in. He is just 23 years old and recently broken into the full Scotland squad; generally used as a winger – so could give Norwich options in both the diamond or in a more traditional 4-4-2. After playing in Scotland and with Leeds in the Championship and League One – he will now be keen to show what he can do in the Premier League.
Players like Vaughan, Morison and Snodgrass all seem to be the right sort of signings and all British of course. They all seem to be keen to show what they can do and deserve the opportunity. Although, we can’t assume yet that Paul Lambert won’t go for any foreign players – they have to fit into the togetherness and team spirit at Norwich. In general though bringing in players who have that little bit of Premier League experience and the best players from the Championship seems a pretty good way to go. But whetever it will be enough to keep Norwich City in the Premier League – time will tell; but one expects they are giving themselves one hell of a chance. Also a word on the board, after signing James Vaughan for £2.5m, another £2m+ on Morison and further bids of £3.5m+ suggests there is going be a decent transfer spend. And this could turn out to be a classic case of fortune following the brave.