As much as I salute every single Norwich player for getting us back to where we belong, I can’t help but feel that this shouldn’t be as good as it gets. With the incentive of staying in the Premier League at an all-time high thanks to the multi-million pound television deals this season, up to eight clubs will be more than happy to settle for a 17th place finish. And we will most certainly be one of those aiming for safety and hopefully will be, come May.
But for that to happen, we need a proven goalscorer. Looking at our three main striking options, I don’t feel that they are good enough for this level. Cameron Jerome has never been a consistent scorer and his record isn’t great. Gary Hooper’s one and only campaign in the Premier League with us was disappointing and he often struggles with fitness. Lewis Grabben has never played in the Premier League before and is unproven. And it remains to be seen what the future holds for Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Kyle Lafferty after their loans ended. But with this said, I believe as these players helped us get promoted, they should be given the chance to prove that they deserve to be here. It’s important we have strength in depth, something that set us apart from the other Championship teams last season. We had options to bring on when things got tight in games and this proved to be a real asset that hopefully we can take full advantage of again.
Staying up won’t be easy; it never is. But having a regular goalscorer up front eases the task massively. I believe that if we want to give ourselves the best chance of survival, we must bring in a proven Premier League striker. Easier said than done you might think and this is true, however, it could prove vital. Signing players from abroad is a risky business and you only have to look at the signing of Van Wolfswinkel two years ago and see that because we didn’t have a regular goalscorer up front, we struggled and were ultimately relegated. Now, I don’t want to play the blame game of what is now absolutely irrelevant but I do want us to learn from the mistakes made during that doomed season. Whether it was Van Wolfswinkel’s ability or lack of more appropriately, or Chris Hughton’s defensive tactics we may never know, but this proves to me that we have to buy someone that can finish regularly against England’s elite.
Of course, buying such a striker is difficult but not impossible. When you look at who’s available, QPR’s Charlie Austin stands out as someone who is ideal but unfortunately, is being courted by bigger teams. Another name that has been mentioned is Rickie Lambert but at 32 years of age; I would advise against pursuing him. Hull’s Dame N’Doye has been talked about too but at £4.5 million and a reported £50,000 a week in wages, I don’t think it would be money well spent considering he scored only five goals last season. Most recently, Glenn Murray, of Crystal Palace has been linked with both us and Bournemouth. This is an interesting one as he did score seven goals and seemed to hit form towards the end of the campaign but I’m not altogether convinced he would be the main man we crave.
Another interesting one I would like to see happen is Papiss Cisse from Newcastle if he doesn’t fit into new manager Steve McClaren’s plans, but unfortunately this is unlikely and is probably only wishful thinking. Swansea striker, Michu, has also been mentioned and despite having been a massive hit in his first season at the Liberty stadium, he fell down the pecking order and was loaned to Napoli last season. I think this is realistic and would like to see a loan deal happen.
Away from the Premier League, Norwich have been heavily linked with Dynamo Kiev striker, Dieumerci Mbokani, who we have reportedly enquired about for £4.3 million. If it happens it might prove to be a massive hit, but at this moment in time, I don’t think it’s a risk worth taking and think that the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Now, maybe I’m being a bit picky and shouldn’t judge some of the options mentioned here so harshly considering we have only just been promoted. But this is a crucial decision and depending on who we sign could play a massive part in deciding where we finish at the end of the season. Ultimately, it’s up to Alex Neil and with two signings already in the bag and the potential signing of Hull’s winger, Robbie Brady, seemingly edging closer, it’s all set for an interesting summer that’s for sure.