Norwich City’s summer clear-out got off to an early start this week as the release of seven senior players was confirmed.
Making up the 7 were John Ruddy, Sebastien Bassong, Michael Turner, Steven Whittaker, Kyle Lafferty, Ryan Bennett and Youssouf Mulumbu, who will all leave the club upon the expiration of their contracts on 30th June.
This came as extremely welcome news for the majority of City fans. New Sporting Director Stuart Webber promised ruthless decisions and he has already acted upon his word.
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In truth, with the possible exception of John Ruddy, each of the seven’s City careers should have been over long ago. Alex Neil’s failure to address this contributed hugely to his downfall. In Turner, we have a player who has not made a league appearance for the club in over two years. Such has been his irrelevance that the majority of Norwich fans had forgotten he was still at the club. The fact that he has been here, doing nothing, for so long is a case of gross negligence from the City board. It is a very similar story for Kyle Lafferty. Only with Lafferty, his wages are far larger and Turner did at least have one impressive season at the club. Making just 30 appearances and scoring just 2 league goals over the course of three seasons, Lafferty’s reported wage of £40,000-a-week beggars belief. Everyone associated with the club – him included (but maybe not his bank account) – will be glad that he’s finally gone.
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Mulumbu and Whittaker also represented inevitable departures. Unlike some, I am actually a fan of Mulumbu and I believe that he is superior to Alex Tettey. Unfortunately, he has been continually struggling for fitness throughout his two years at the club. For the wages that he’ll be on, we simply cannot afford to keep a player that can’t keep fit. Whittaker is another on the wrong side of 30 and one of Webber’s priorities was to trim the squad’s age. A return to Scotland beckons.
Each of the aforementioned 5 have been nothing more than squad players this season and, as such, none of their departures will come as a surprise to City fans. The future’s of the remaining two, however, in Ryan Bennett and John Ruddy, were far less certain. The former has never been the most popular and many would have been hopeful that he would make the list. Nonetheless, he has featured 37 times this season and, as such, I held fears that he would be kept on. Despite showing initial signs of promise when he joined in 2012, for the past four seasons he has proven on countless occasions that he is not up to standard and his ever-presence has been a huge cause of our defensive woes. When he signed, Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony promised City fans that Bennett was a future England captain; surely one of the most scandalous cases of false advertisement since the turn of the century!
Thank you for the memories, John Ruddy
The release of John Ruddy is undoubtedly the one that will cause most sadness among City supporters. During his 7 years, Ruddy has been a crucial part of two promotions and 4 seasons of Premier League football. His form also saw him earn an England cap and links to the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. If reports are to be believed, he turned both of them down in favour of remaining loyal to City. We owe John Ruddy a huge amount of gratitude.
This being said, do I think that it is the correct decision? Being ruthless, yes. The majority of City fans, and probably Ruddy himself, will admit that he has never quite reached the levels that he was at prior to injury in 2012. Mistakes have regularly crept into his game in recent seasons and he is a shadow of the commanding figure that used to single-handedly earn us points. The decision will only make sense, however, if Michael McGovern follows him out of the exit door. If we were to only keep one, then Ruddy would surely have been the better option out of the two.