Forlorn in the USA?
On Wednesday night Norwich City completed their pre-season tour of the US with a 1-0 defeat at Portland Timbers. This followed a similar reverse against San Jose Earthquakes just four days earlier after the Canaries' tour had kicked off in style with a 3-0 win over Mexican side Dorados.
July 26th, 2013
So Chris Hughton’s men return to the UK with one win and two defeats under their belt, but in terms of pre-season, history shows that results are irrelevant. In 2009 Bryan Gunn’s Norwich City side embarked on a mammoth 10-game pre-season schedule in which they won eight and drew two – one of those draws including a 1-1 scoreline against Manchester United at Carrow Road. However, pre-season was soon forgotten seven days later when eight games unbeaten turned into seven goals conceded in the opening League One defeat at the hands of Colchester United.
With no points at stake there is a distinct lack of a competitive edge in games leading up to the start of the season – it’s all about fitness and performance which would explain the defeats to the two MLS sides who are 20 games into their regular season. But enough with the excuses, all Norwich City fans are interested in from the tour Stateside is the performance of the new boys.
Chris Hughton began his transfer business early. Striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, bought in March, arrived as soon as the window opened in July whilst left-back Javier Garrido turned a loan move into a permanent transfer at the same time. A few days later Birmingham City’s pacey winger Nathan Redmond walked through the door and then a week later left-sided player Martin Olsson arrived from Blackburn Rovers.
Having already smashed the club’s transfer record with the signing of striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Chris Hughton then splashed the cash again on Van Wolfswinkel’s Dutch international team-mate midfielder Leroy Fer. Although the fee was undisclosed, Fer had failed a medical earlier in the year after Everton agreed a £8.6m deal for a player who has been compared to Patrick Vieira. 39-year-old back-up goalkeeper Carlo Nash signed on a free to complete the set that jetted out to the United States.
It would, however, appear that Norwich City are far from finished in recruiting new players to ensure they stay in the top flight. Although ‘Arry has been quoted as not expecting any hiccups in the deal (presumably from inside his car with the window wound down) Celtic striker, and long-term target, Gary Hooper is believed to have rejected QPR in favour of joining the Canaries. This would go some way to filling the club legend-shaped hole left by the exit of club captain and three-times Player of the Season Grant Holt. Ever since Holt’s family returned to Carlisle a move to the north wasn’t far off and Wigan now have a gem who will score goals for fun in the Championship. Along with Holt, Norwich City have also said goodbye to strikers Simeon Jackson and Chris Martin so don’t expect Hooper to be the last addition to Hughton’s squad.
So, whilst Norwich City return to these shores on the back of two defeats, you won’t hear any grumbles from the Yellow Army who look forward to a new season with some real quality added to the side. This really is now Chris Hughton’s Norwich City with some signings that many observers expected to join bigger clubs than “little old Norwich”. This season it looks like the Carrow Road outfit mean business. A top-half finish? Why not…
– by Will Hudson