Norwich City were unable to bring in a central defender during the transfer window. Links to Kalidou Koulibaly, Erik Sviatchenko, Nedum Onouha and others came and went, but ultimately nobody came through the door. The fact that Andre Wisdom was our only defensive reinforcement in the window was disappointing, not that that’s a dig at Wisdom or anything, simply it’s just a little concerning we didn’t bring any others.
With their defence not all that much stronger than it was in last season’s Championship play-off winning campaign, I’m a little uneasy going forwards. City have shipped eight goals in the league so far, with a good number of them poor ones to concede as well as avoidable all the same. However, if we’re not going to manage to keep teams out, then we’re going to have to find a clinical touch up the other end and score a fair few goals.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel departed to Real Betis, Dieumerci Mbokani came in from Dynamo Kyiv, once more there were plenty of links that came and went, Naismith, Gayle, Walters, Afobe and others. As you can see, I could blog about our transfer window frustrations and the way we went about recruitment but that’s been and gone now. So, who do City have up front? Who can score the goals? Who do we turn to?
#7 Lewis Grabban
Despite scoring twice against Ipswich, Grabban’s never really been a universal fan favourite. That cause wasn’t helped by walking out of the team hotel at Rotherham for a recent cup game and going AWOL. The former Bournemouth man was subsequently suspended by the club, as he sought to force a move back to his former club. Grabban may be a silly boy off the pitch, but I feel he’s intelligent on it. He can play up front on his own. He can make the runs. He knows what to do. It’s no coincidence that Alex Neil preferred him over Cameron Jerome for a good period last season. Grabban was doing very well. Yet, despite 12 goals, I never felt he was clinical enough. There were a good number he’d miss. On the opening day, he should have found the net twice – fair enough, one was offside – but, although I think he would score this season, I don’t think he’d get the goals to keep City up. Plus, he’s got a hell of a lot of making up to do to win back over good parts of the Carrow Road faithful. Furthermore, after a recent quickly deleted tweet of ‘The truth comes to the surface eventually’, we can at the very least deduce Grabban probably isn’t a happy boy. Will we see him in the squad any time soon? I’m not sure.
#9 Dieumerci Mbokani
Mbokani signed from Dynamo Kyiv on a season-long loan subject to a work permit. We haven’t heard if that permit has been approved yet, but with links to Mbokani surfacing a good few months ago, I’d assume City have done their homework on this one. Our last foreign import up front who took the number 9 shirt didn’t fare so well (still love you though, Ricky). Will Mbokani be better? I’ll stick my neck out and say ‘yes’. I’ve spoken to an Anderlecht fan and heard very encouraging things. From all the things I’ve listened to and highlight reels galore on YouTube, I’m optimistic about this one. Of course, we won’t know a thing until he’s out there in that yellow and green but I’ll say now that he’ll get us some goals. He’s wanted a move to England for a long time, he seems to have all the qualities to succeed in the Premier League and I can’t wait to see him in action.
#10 Cameron Jerome
Until otherwise, Jerome is the main man I feel. Though Mbokani will certainly push him all the way now he’s on board. Jerome, like Grabban, needs to find a clinical touch this season. He should be off the mark already, of course. I’ll just say the name ‘Simon Hooper’ to explain that one. He worked tirelessly at Sunderland, yet missed good chances against Stoke and Southampton. Jerome was a machine last season for us, certainly leaving me with egg on my face as I wasn’t all that convinced he’d come in and get us goals. Yet at Premier League level, there are probably still some doubts over him. He’s never been all that prolific, though like Mbokani, he’ll get us a respectable tally this season. He seems to have settled down nicely at Norwich. He’s a good sort of age. It’s only a matter of time until he gets off the mark.
#11 Gary Hooper
I like Hooper. I like him a lot. Does Alex Neil? I’m not quite sure. Hooper doesn’t fit his one up front approach, yet he’s the best finisher at the club for me. He’s scored for us in the Premier League before, under Chris Hughton where we were as attacking as a blunt pencil is effective at trying to knock down a wall. I do think he’d score goals at this level, but I’m really not sure he’ll get the chance. Had we signed Dwight Gayle on deadline day, I doubt Hooper would be here now as he was supposedly tying up a loan move away. We’ll have to see what happens, but I just don’t see Hooper being the man Neil turns to.
#19 Kyle Lafferty
Lafferty was often played wide on the left under Neil Adams, scored his first and only goal early in Alex Neil’s reign but was then shipped off on loan. When you consider Lafferty for Northern Ireland, up front, the main man and scoring goals – as Neil you’re surely being given something to think about. He works hard and runs around like an angry bison. For the last 20 minutes against a tiring defence, I find that quite an attractive proposition. Again, like with Hooper, I’m not entirely sure he’ll get the chance from Neil. At the very least, I’d give Lafferty a runout in the Capital One Cup against West Brom in a few weeks and see what he comes up with in that.
Norwich have options, there’s no doubt about that. They create plenty of chances under Neil so it’s up to one of these lads to find that clinical touch and get some goals. Bournemouth at home on Saturday is a big game for a couple of reasons; they’re a side we’ll be competing with to stay up and things haven’t seemed as rosy in their camp of late. With those two things combined, three points would be really quite welcome. And, all being well, at least one of our strikers will get off the mark.