After a season that saw Norwich stumble over the line in their bid to stay in the Premier League, signing new players in the summer was always going to be important as the East Anglia team looked to have a much improved season – Chris Hughton has managed to do this.
The arrival of 8 new players into the squad and the success of keeping the excellent John Ruddy from a move to Chelsea’s bench has masked over the disappointment of fan’s favourite and club legend Grant Holt leaving the club he helped fire to consecutive promotions and survival in the Premier League. It was the right time for the former Norwich captain to leave though after he confirmed in a radio interview that he wanted to leave due to family reasons and tactics not fitting his style of play.
Norwich City Signings
Ricky van Wolfswinkel – The Dutch International was Norwich’s marquee signing of the summer (although the £8.5m deal was announced in March) and has already impressed at Carrow Road. On his debut against Everton, van Wolfswinkel only had 12 touches throughout the 90 minutes. This will look like the striker was anonymous during the game, especially as 3 of his 12 touches were from the kick-off, but the most important touch of the whole was his only chance of the game which resulted in a goal and helped Norwich to achieve a draw. In the coming months expect van Wolfswinkel to get himself on the score sheet more often after he gels with his new teammates after already showing clever movement to get away from his marker in the opening 3 games. The striker has shown early signs that he is adapting to the Premier League after he committed the most fouls out of any player in the opening weekend of the season with 8.
Gary Hooper – A player that Norwich have been pursuing since January, Chris Hughton finally got his man as they nicked him from under Harry Redknapp’s nose to the delight of the fans. Hooper joins with an impressive goal scoring record at Celtic and Scunthorpe where he scored 132 goals in 233 games at both teams, and Norwich fans will hope Hooper can repeat this form with them this season. Injury has currently prevented Hooper from making his Norwich debut so far, but with goalscorers coming at a price nowadays £5m for Hooper looks to be a good signing.
Leroy Fer – Another impressive signing by Norwich this summer for the Dutch midfielder who was due to move to the Premier League in January, but a move to Everton was cancelled after Fer failed a medical. Fer is yet to show any signs of the knee problem that prevented him a move in Janaury and like his Dutch compatriot, van Wolfswinkel, has already shown his class to Norwich fans with a man of the match performance against Southampton where he assisted Redmond’s goal with a lovely cross field pass and a passing accuracy of 94% – the best in the Premier League this weekend.
Nathan Redmond – The youngster from Birmingham was one of the few English under-21 players to leave the Euros this summer with his head held high, and his form has carried on into this season to confirm Redmond as one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League. The quick winger who can play either on the left or right has excited Norwich fans already with his positive attacking play, which due to his age can mean he is sometimes selfish, and has already scored his first Premier League in last weekend’s victory over Southampton. A player who wouldn’t have expected to start all 3 league games so far has taken his chance brilliantly and the injury to Elliot Bennett means Redmond will play a much bigger role this season that his early form deserves.
Javier Garrido and Martin Olsson – Two new (permanent ) signings at left back helps to improve a Norwich defence that kept clean sheets last season despite its frailties early on. Javier Garrido joins for £1.25m from Lazio after impressing during his loan last season, but has added competition this term in Martin Olsson who is a definite improvement on previous left back Marc Tiereny. The Swedish international adds much needed pace to Norwich’s backline, whilst also offering the versatility of being able to play in midfield during difficult away trips.
Johan Elmander – The former Bolton striker joined on a season-long loan from Galatasaray and offers Norwich a more physical presence up front when needed away from home. At Bolton Elmander was never a prolific goal scorer (his highest tally in his final season at the club with 10), but as 3rd choice striker behind Hooper and van Wolfswinkel the Swedish international will most likely be involved from the bench to help hold the ball when defending a narrow lead in the dying minutes – a underrated quality that can help save a few points every season. With this being a one year loan deal and Galatasary reportingly helping to pay Elmander’s wages, this is a decent signing that replaces the physical element that was previously brought by Grant Holt.
Carlo Nash – The least spectacular signing of the summer for Norwich, but an important one. A third choice goalkeeper is rarely needed, however injuries to John Ruddy and Mark Bunn meant Lee Camp (who was brought in during the January transfer window) stood in for a couple seasons. With highly rated young goalkeeper Declan Rudd needing first team experience, the signing of Nash allows this.
The new signings help to improve the squad all over the pitch, while the majority of players who helped Norwich to get to the Premier League yet struggled to hold their own at this level have moved on. An extra central defender could have been brought in, with Norwich looking a different defensive prospect without last season’s player of the season Sebastian Bassong, as well as an ball-playing midfielder to add to a team that struggles to keep the ball successfully at times, one of the reasons why Norwich struggled to beat 10 man Hull City two weeks ago. Overall though, Norwich have had an excellent transfer window and enter September with a much better squad, both in terms of quality and depth, than last season.