Vinny Mansi: Do newly promoted clubs such as Norwich struggle to recruit players and if so why?
Phil Smith: Not necessarily, though it is a very difficult balancing act for newly promoted clubs. They have to recruit wisely so if they go straight back down they are not left in a perilous position and end up bankrupting themselves. If they do go straight back down, they need to have a squad in place that is best equipped to give them a chance to get straight back up again. Norwich did this very well by holding together the bulk of their squad together and got promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt. On the other hand if there was ever a season to gamble on recruiting talent this would be it, as the teams that remain in the Premier League at the end are guaranteed around 100 million pounds in broadcasting rights revenue.
There are so many other aspects to consider when recruiting. Will recruiting a high profile player who demands such high wages unsettle the harmony of the dressing room? It may be best for a newly promoted club to find players who will fit better into their structure so that they play as part of a team in the true sense of the word rather than recruiting one or two standout individuals that are just playing in a team. At the same time the team needs to recruit players that have some flamboyance and have the ability to change the course of matches. Having a reliable goal scorer is an absolute must. This is why many managers end up recruiting players they have had experience with at a previous club as it is less of a risk as they know what sort of job the player can do for the team.
In such a competitive market the players are also in a very strong position. They know that the clubs need their services to try and improve their squads in order to retain or improve their Premier League status and will try to agree the best personal terms they can for themselves. With so many clubs competing for similar players, often it comes down to which club is in a better position to offer the better personal terms that fit within their wage structure and do not unsettle the balance or harmony of the team. There is better value to be had abroad, but finding overseas players that will improve your squad can be risky, which is why clubs end up paying more money for domestic players as they know exactly what they are getting. The bigger clubs can more easily afford domestic players thus leaving newly promoted clubs to hunt for the bargains.
VM: With Norwich City being geographically remote in comparison to other cities is it a hard place to recruit players to?
PS: No not really. Norwich is remote but at the same time it is close to London. If a player is more worried about what they can get up to outside of the training ground then he probably isn’t the right type of player for the club.
VM: Do you think transfer fees will continue to inflate at such a fast rate?
PS: With the ever increasing revenue from broadcasting rights it’s inevitable – the new 15 million is now like the old 5 million. Premier League clubs now have more money so will pay up. Players are in a sense treated as capital or assets so a value has to be put on them in order to balance the books. It’s not just the transfer fees that inflate, but also the players’ salaries especially for younger players as they will hold their value for longer. This is because clubs will get more seasons out of them and are therefore better value for money, as opposed to a player who is in their early 30s. When recruiting for players clubs have to consider not just the transfer fee but also the player’s wages when looking at a season’s budget, so from the outside looking in, it may seem that a newly promoted club has more money to spend than it actually has.
VM: Do agents sometimes crest a rumour if they know a player wants to move?
PS: In truth the best deals are the ones that are done in confidence, but yes it can sometimes happen particularly if a player is doing well for themselves and feels it is time for them to move on and get a better deal elsewhere. Agents can be divisive but this can also be true of certain football clubs who have moles within their own walls and leak information in order to move a player on. In truth, with so many people involved in the football clubs these days, it is very difficult to keep transfer dealings confidential.
VM: Why do clubs leave it until deadline day to recruit players when they have already had 2 months to do their business?
PS: It mostly boils down to change of circumstance. With the transfer window still in operation well into the football season many things can change that will cause a chain reaction or have a knock-on effect on clubs. Bringing players in and out is a little bit like moving house; you can’t move into your new house until the people that were living there before you move out. Premier League teams have to declare a 25 man squad. If they feel that a player may not make the squad for whatever reason they may want to recruit somebody that is better suited. This could be because they feel a player is better going out on loan or their squad may be short of numbers because of unexpected injuries and suspensions.
Some players may hit a sudden loss of form which will influence clubs to dip back into the transfer market at the last minute. It can be cheaper for some clubs to buy on the last day; the selling club may end up selling for a cheaper price rather than risk getting less money, as a player’s contract runs down, or even no money at all. Deadline day deals can also work against a buying club, because if they are forced into rash decisions due to an unexpected need to a fill position, they will not want to risk being short in that area so may end up having to pay over the odds to make sure they are covered.
VM: Where do you think Norwich need to strengthen position wise?
PS: They need a very strong spine of players plus strength in depth to survive. In Norwich’s case, adding another goalkeeper to give Ruddy competition would not do any harm and adding another good quality centre back or maybe two would be a welcome addition. Alex Neil likes to play with one up front so having options for a goal scorer who can play in that system will also be key to their survival.