Steven Naismith

5 of the Biggest Norwich City Flops of the Twenty-First Century

Every team has flops. Players that promised so much. Players who had dream debuts. 

Norwich City are no exception in the modern age of football, and here are five of the worst transfers Norwich have made in the 21st century.

5. Yanic Wildschut

A player with plenty of promise, but little to show on the pitch. Described by many as a ‘panic buy’, Norwich City signed Yanic Wildschut from Wigan on deadline day end of the January transfer window in 2017 for a reported feee of £7m. 

Known for his quick bursts of pace and ability to run at the opposition, Wildschut promised much in a Norwich shirt. However, he failed to make any telling contributions in the remainder of the 2016/17 season.

He struggled to get in the team when Daniel Farke took over in July 2017, and eventually went on loan to Cardiff City. He now finds himself on loan at Bolton Wanderers until the end of this season, and has just three goals in 24 games for Norwich. 

4. Kyle Lafferty

We all heard a fan shouting ‘get Lafferty on’ in the 75th minute when Norwich were losing. The problem was that the Northern Irishman did not contribute on the pitch and had his own problems away from it. 

Norwich signed Kyle Lafferty in June 2014 on a three-year contract after their relegation from the Premier League. The fee was undisclosed from Italian Serie B club Palermo and Lafferty was given the number nine.  

Lafferty scored just one goal in the entire 2014/15 season, and could not make the team while City were in the Premier League the following campaign. For a direct, tall, strong centre-forward, Lafferty was a huge disappointment for Norwich.

The striker was known for some trouble away from Carrow Road. For example, he was fined £23,000 for misconduct related to betting in football in August 2016.

Lafferty joined Scottish team Hearts in June 2017 when his contract expired. He now finds himself back at Rangers, where he spent four years from 2008-2012. 

3. Michael Theoklitos

Just the one game for this next Norwich City flop - and maybe one game too many.

City signed Australian goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos from Melbourne Victory in July 2009.

He would debut in the opening game of the 2009/10 League One season, following Norwich’s relegation from the Championship. 

Theoklitos conceded five goals before half time in an infamous game where Norwich were torn apart by Colchester United on the opening day. City would lose the game 7-1, and Theoklitos described the game as 'the worst performance' of his career to BBC Radio Norfolk. 

Manager Bryan Gunn backed the keeper despite a horror start, but Gunn was sacked and replaced by Paul Lambert imminently. Theoklitos would be demoted to third choice keeper for City under Lambert, and in a game where he was named on the bench, he did not even turn up. Theoklitos' contract was terminated by mutual consent in March 2010.

2. Steven Naismith

When the net bulged against Liverpool on his debut, City fans thought they had found the answer to their survival quest. Instead, it was another false dawn and a considerable waste of money. 

Steven Naismith signed for Norwich in January 2016 from Everton on a three-and-a-half year-deal for a fee believed to be in the region of £8m.

He scored just the one goal in 13 games during that 2015/16 relegation season, leaving his future at the club uncertain. 

City fans gave the Scottish midfielder another chance, but he only scored five goals in 29 appearances in the following season, where Norwich would finish disappointingly in eighth place - 10 points adrift of the play-off places. 

Naismith was made available for loan in January 2018 after playing just two games since August 2017. He subsequently joined Scottish Premiership side Hearts on loan until the end of the season, making his debut in an Edinburgh derby against Hibernian. He has since returned to Hearts for another season-long loan. 

1. Ricky van Wolfswinkel

When Ricky van Wolfswinkel headed home against Everton on the opening day of the 2013/14 Premier League season, there were howls and wolf cries from all around Carrow Road. But that would be the only goal the striker scored in the entire season, and never really recovered since. 

Norwich signed Van Wolfswinkel from Sporting CP in July 2013 on a four-year deal. The transfer, as announced in March in that same year, was worth £8.5m plus bonuses. 

He scored on his debut but managed no further goals in his next 23 league games for the club.

The Dutchamn joined St Etienne on a season-long loan in 2014/15, not featuring in Norwich's promotion-winning campaign. 

Although he scored his second goal for Norwich on his return to the club in August 2015 against Rotherham in the League Cup, that would be his last goal for the Canaries. 

In July 2016, he re-joined former club Vitesse on an undisclosed fee, and his painful tenure at Carrow Road was over. 

Whether it was the system, the players, the manager, the facilities, the opposition - these transfers just did not work out. Naturally, every team makes mistakes and players make mistakes, although Norwich have for sure wasted some money in this century.

Luckily for Norwich, their intelligent recruitment is paying dividends in the 2018/19 season, where the likes of Emi Buendia, Onel Hernandez, Teemu Pukki and Mario Vrancic are all excelling. And should they secure promotion, the door may open for more players to add increased squad depth.