With the season over and a return to the promised land looming large, Norwich City have already begun to strengthen the squad with the permanent transfer of Graham Dorrans from West Brom, which will soon be coupled with a return to Norfolk for striking duo Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Kyle Lafferty from Saint-Étienne and Çaykur Rizespor respectively.
The former, of course, has already participated in a Premier League campaign for the Canaries; that now infamous goal on his debut against Everton promised so much but the Dutchman – mainly through the pure ineptitude of Chris Hughton’s attacking prowess – failed to deliver on the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ marketing campaign that hyped him up before his arrival. Now, after a year spent in France scoring five goals in twenty-four games, O Lobo has been shown a way back to Norwich after the Saint-Étienne chairman claimed that Les Verts‘ transfer budget would be less than the £6m needed to activate his buy-out clause. Technically, van Wolfswinkel’s loan contract expires on the 30th June so it looks very unlikely that the Saint-Étienne situation is going to change unless the French club can offload some of their own stars.
There will be a large contingency of fans on both sides of the fence – some would love to see The Wolf back in Canary yellow, whereas others will only long to see the back of him. In my opinion, I feel like van Wolfswinkel has to prove himself and he should be given another chance. After all, who really flourished under Hughton in that dreadful season? Under Hughton, Redmond and van Wolfswinkel in particular were – rightly or wrongly – singled out as under-performing and were treated as scapegoats. If Alex Neil has been able to rejuvenate this side to this extent, firing Norwich up the table and into the Premier League, who’s to say he can’t do the same with the Dutchman?
If van Wolfswinkel wants to be a success on his return, however, there are many areas he needs to improve. The most important is his strength. Two years ago, he was simply pushed off the ball; he was weak, he wasn’t able to stay in control and he was bullied by defenders. Neil needs to get van Wolfswinkel in the gym and on the weights – with a good pre-season behind him, van Wolfswinkel will have fire in his belly and a point to prove, that he is worthy of pulling on the yellow shirt in the Premier League again. If it wasn’t for a superb display from Fulham’s goalkeeper David Stockdale, it’s certain that The Wolf would’ve added to his solitary goal.
On the other hand, many will say that van Wolfswinkel has had his chance at Norwich and failed to grasp it. Just one goal followed by a year-long goal drought shows he just can’t cut it at a higher level, and it would be best if he was sold back to the Liga Portuguesa or the Eredivise. Another argument for van Wolfswinkel’s departure would be that he won’t be able to usurp play-off hero Cameron Jerome or his counterparts Lewis Grabban and Gary Hooper from the striker’s berth. Whilst this may be the case, I feel that Hooper may leave this summer and if so Norwich would need another striker. It’s extremely unlikely that youth product Jamar Loza will be deemed ready for a place in a Premier League squad, so therefore The Wolf seems a decent enough replacement. In the short of it, strikers want to score goals. When he was here, van Wolfswinkel didn’t do that and subsequently – through a collective failure from the boardroom, to the players, to the management – Norwich City were relegated. Another scenario where Norwich just don’t score enough goals is unthinkable, but Cameron Jerome has never proven himself to be Premier League quality, Grabban is untested at that level and Hooper only managed six – and five of those came in a six-week period.
So, Norwich City fans – would you like to see Ricky van Wolfswinkel lining up in yellow and green at Carrow Road come August, or do you want to get rid of the non-flying Dutchman? Tweet us at @TheCarrowCrowd or comment below!