With the much-dreaded international break having the audacity to rear its ugly head once more, on-the-field Norwich City news has been at a minimum. Refusing to be defeated in my quest for a fix of domestic football, however, Saturday afternoon saw me stumble across the “Scottish Challenge Cup” Final between Dundee United and St. Mirren. Featuring for the Tangerines, and winner of the man-of-the-match award and scorer of a first half wonder-strike, was a certain Tony Andreu. Now, I must admit that I had to double check, but the official Norwich website confirms that he is still a City player – contracted until 2018 – and, upon the conclusion of his loan in May, he will be returning to Carrow Road. This got me thinking: could a new manager find a use for Andreu? And further, which other players in a similar position could have their City careers revitalised by the arrival of a new boss?
Despite joining over two years ago, following Alex Neil from Hamilton, he has only made 6 appearances – mainly as a substitute – and the majority of Norwich fans would be hard-pressed to give any accurate opinion on his ability. What we do know, however, is that he has been hugely impressive for Dundee United this season and, regardless of the undoubtedly poor level of football up in the Scottish second tier, 17 goals in 28 appearances, for a midfielder, is not a record to be sniffed at. This being said, we already knew he was capable of delivering the goods up north when we signed him two years ago yet, for whatever reason, Neil never felt like he was worthy of being given a proper opportunity at City. The thing that has largely prevented him breaking in, and what will most likely continue to prevent him getting an opportunity next season, is the level of competition that we have in his position. Unfortunately for Andreu, attacking midfield is probably the one position that we are already well equipped in with Alex Pritchard, Steven Naismith, Wes Hoolahan, James Maddison and even Jonny Howson all probably above the Frenchman in the pecking order.
One who will be competing with Andreu for an attacking midfield spot is 20-year-old Maddison. If there is one player that City fans have been craving to see given an opportunity in recent weeks, it is Maddison. Signed from Coventry over a year ago, the youngster spent the first half of the season on loan in the SPL at Aberdeen and, by all accounts, he impressed hugely. Alex Neil’s decision to not extend his loan until the end of the season gave us all hope that the highly-rated Coventry youth product would have a first-team role to play – alas, he has not even managed a substitute appearance. If City fans are to have their own way, then a complete overhaul of the squad will be undertaken this summer and a new eleven will be built around the talent of the likes of Maddison and Alex Pritchard – let’s hope the new boss, whoever it may be, has a similar train of thought.
You get the feeling that next season will be make or break for Harry Toffolo’s career at Carrow Road. For the last couple of seasons, the 21-year-old has appeared to be on the verge of breaking into the first-team squad only to be loaned out again. During each loan move – particularly at Swindon and this season at Scunthorpe – he has received rave reviews and whenever he has featured with the senior City side, during pre-season and the odd cup appearance, he has very much looked the part. At 21 he is still very young, but having been shipped out on loan 4 times over the past 2 years he may feel that the time has come to make a commitment one way or another – whether it be to City or elsewhere. With the departure of Martin Olsson and Robbie Brady in January, City are currently without a left-back and thus, in theory, if Toffolo will ever have a time, then it is now.