...........keeping a beady eye on ex Canaries and those out on loan
Of the three players released by Norwich City this summer, Matt Gill is the first to have found a new club. He has joined Bristol Rovers, who were relegated at the end of last season to League Two. On announcement of the move, Gill, who has played nearly 400 league games in his career, spoke highly of the influence of Norwich boss Paul Lambert, who told him to choose the best club available to him over divisional status. The Pirates, despite last season's setback, are under new management in the shape of ex Torquay United manager Paul Buckle, and are expected to do well in the forthcoming campaign. One of the clubs to miss out were Walsall, who had the services of Gill on loan last term. Rovers have got themselves a hard working midfielder who is unlikely to let them down.
A few other ex Canaries have also made moves to fresh pastures. Jason Shackell, who was a popular defender at Carrow Road between 2003 and 2008, playing over one hundred first team games, has made the switch from Barnsley to Derby County. He is now aged twenty seven and the deal is reported to have been in excess of £1million. Jamie Cureton had a good year after his departure from City last season but Exeter City have failed to hang onto his services and he will play for Leyton Orient in 2011-12. Paul Gallacher was a goalkeeping option for City between 2004 and 2007, appearing in 31 League matches. During that time he also went out on loan to Dunfermline Athletic, and when released from Carrow Road, joined them permanently. For the last couple of seasons he has been with St Mirren, but has now returned to East End Park on a two year contract as the Fife club celebrate their promotion back to the Scottish Premier League. Joining him there is Patrick Boyle who had a brief loan spell with the Canaries in 2006 from Everton. And former striker from the mid nineties, Keith Scott, is reported to have taken up the managerial reigns at Windsor FC, a new club that has risen from the ashes of Windsor & Eton FC, who went bust in February. Scott had earlier held the same position at the original club, with some success.
Former Norwich City favourite Malky Mackay has left his manager post at Championship club Watford, and taken up a similar position with Cardiff City. The Hornets performed well above expectation at times last season, and it was no surprise that Mackay was on the radar of other clubs. However, with a large exodus of players out of Cardiff this summer, and the weight of expectancy from Welsh fans who have twice missed out on promotion to the Premier League in recent seasons, the Scot is likely to be under pressure to succeed, though he will take comfort from the fact that the Bluebirds stuck with his predecessor, David Jones, for six years. Other men with Norwich City connections to have been manager of Cardiff City are Cyril Spiers and George Swindin, both of whom held similar positions at Carrow Road.
I was drawn recently to the story of Paul Cook, who had a largely unhappy time at Norwich between 1988 and 1989. He was later more successful at both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley, and after retirement from playing, moved into football management. His first post was at Conference club Southport, but lasted only six months after winning only five games. In April 2007 he was appointed boss of League Of Ireland Premier Division side, Sligo Rovers FC. The club, who have the wonderful nickname of The Bit O' Red, have flourished under his leadership, playing what has been described as an exciting brand of flowing, passing football. Despite selling Seamus Coleman to Everton for £60,000, the club have more than held their own in the league, won the Irish FA Cup (and lost in another final), and the Irish League Cup under the stewardship of Cook. And all of this has led to them playing in the UEFA Europa League too. Lawrie Sanchez and Steve Cotterill are two current Football League managers to have been in charge of Sligo Rovers in the past, so the experience may yet lead to greater things for Paul Cook.