Chris Goreham: Why City chief might prefer to sharpen the tools he has instead of dipping into transfer market
PUBLISHED: 13:29 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:29 02 December 2019
Football’s silly season is nearly upon us.
With advent calendar doors beginning to open it won't be long before the dreaded January transfer window does the same. Already questions are being tabled about how much money Norwich City will have burning a hole in their yellow and green pocket when 2020 begins.
If previous bitter Premier League experience has taught Canary fans anything it should be that relying on a fruitful January to save a season is a dangerous ploy.
While transfer speculation can be fun to follow and a carefully selected new signing can make a huge difference during the run-in it might just be that the real saviours are already at the club.
Daniel Farke's ability to get the best out of the talent at his disposal and the uncanny knack he has of improving players could prove far more valuable than any business the club might be able to stretch to when that window re-opens.
Todd Cantwell's gloriously taken strike against Arsenal underlined the perfect case in point. The Dereham Deco, as Chris Sutton recently christened him, started just 18 of City's matches in the Championship last season.
There were some useful cameos and impressive displays but promotion tends to mean that promising youngsters find themselves replaced by more experienced imports.
When Patrick Roberts arrived on loan from Manchester City it seemed that Cantwell may be about to slip further down the pecking order.
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The 21-year old was on the wrong end of some harsh criticism from a section of supporters during a nervy run-in to last season when his main shortcoming seemed to be that he wasn't Emi Buendia. Cantwell deputised for the Argentinian when he was suspended for draws against Reading and Wigan back in April.
Anyone who saw Norwich in pre-season could not fail to notice that the 2019/20 version of Todd Cantwell had turned up like a man possessed. Here was a player desperate not to let the chance of being a Premier League footballer for his boyhood club slip through his fingers.
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Farke has always been keen to reward players who put in the hard yards, regardless of their reputations.
His decisions to bring Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey into his starting XI at particularly testing times for the club had shown that he was one head coach for whom giving a chance to academy talent was a genuine ambition rather than a lip-service quote for trotting out at fans' forums and when questioned by shareholders at AGMs.
That confidence has been handsomely rewarded. Cantwell is compiling an impressive portfolio of Premier League goals with Arsenal joining Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton on his list of victims.
He is on the way to becoming a household name outside Norfolk and, while Farke will not allow his young charge to be swept away by his own publicity, he will be thrilled by how much a player who only started his first league game for the club 15 months ago has kicked on.
Few would have predicted that Cantwell would make such a consistent contribution to the Canary cause this season.
He will need to keep it up though. The merciful easing of City's injury crisis means that Farke is now blessed with options in most areas of his team. While the return of Christoph Zimmermann, a proper central defender, has helped give the team a more comfortable and balanced look the extra competition for places must be having a psychological effect on those who are currently in the first eleven.
With a bench that now includes Buendia, Stiepermann and Vrancic, three of the stars of the promotion season, and Moritz Leitner unable to force his way into the match day squad it's clear that any new signing that does arrive in January will have to hit the ground running to have a chance of playing his way into the team before May.