The Daily Mail is reporting that Norwich City winger Elliott Bennett is a target for manager Paul Lambert at Aston Villa. The link shouldn’t come as a massive surprise considering that Lambert worked with and signed the player as Norwich's manager.
It’s interesting to note that Bennett was largely a fringe player for Chris Hughton in the Premier League last season. Therefore, it’s quite possible that he will be a surplus to requirements next season, especially if Hughton strengthens the squad in his position.
But I think the player has a great deal of potential. He is the quickest winger we have available, and often the most direct in terms of getting crosses into the box. Nevertheless, it’s fair to concede that Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington are both better in terms of scoring goals.
Bennett was one of those players who struggled to adapt to the rigours of Premier League football; it was notable how much quicker Pilkington adapted during Norwich’s first season in the league. However, Elliott started to prove his worth towards the end of the season, helped by a stunning goal at White Hart Lane.
I think many of us expected him to start last season on fire after the way he had ended the previous campaign. But he probably wasn’t helped by Snograss’ arrival, and the former Leeds United winger went on to be a key figure for the club. Pilkington was often the player chosen on the opposite flank.
Hughton is the sort of manager that likes a settled side, while Lambert rotated the squad around a lot more. So, it stands to reason that Bennett didn’t have a huge amount of opportunities once it became clear that he was not the first choice. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to conclude that Bennett didn’t have any opportunities under Hughton.
But it could be stated that his play was a little stifled throughout much of the season due to the manager’s defensive tactics. Bennett enjoyed a few appearances towards the end of the season and showed some more of that early promise.
My personal opinion is that we should retain the services of the player, because he has more than enough quality to open up defences. I recognise that he isn’t going to be a regular in the side, but we certainly don’t want to let him go to a Premier League rival.
It’s fair to say that Bennett is a little bit frustrating because he has bags of ability but doesn’t always show that on a consistent basis. However, it’s that ability that illustrates how important it is to hang onto him. We lack genuine pace in the squad, and we certainly don’t want to allow a player to leave who can certainly do a job for us next season.
It is vital to remember how important the squad is in the Premier League, and there is no doubt in my mind that Bennett is a vital part of it. Finally, let’s not forget that it would be painful for Norwich City fans to see the player excel under Paul Lambert at Aston Villa.