Foundations in place for bright future for Norwich City
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Excited? Yes, me too. And a bit more than a man of 45 should be. Worried? Yes, a tiny bit. Up for it? Absolutely.
Saturday’s big kick-off will mark 75 days since that never to be forgotten day at Wembley.
If Alex Neil and his men can re-create that organisational genius, energy, tempo, determination, grit, style and flair over the next 38 games, City will be absolutely fine in the Premier League.
Of course it’s going to be tough. The big boys are stronger and most of Norwich’s realistic top flight rivals have strengthened – and strengthened well.
But I firmly believe the foundations are in place for the Canaries to build a bright future at football’s top table.
In Neil we have a shrewd, streetwise and fully focused manager who is well capable of leading his team in to battle against the country’s finest.
The way he made his men do double training sessions in the heat of the Alps shows he insists on peak fitness.
I was impressed with his “no prima donnas” message and his transfer dealings are a sign of calm sustainability and not panic.
Neil has admitted he would have liked to have added another striker to his squad during the summer and that may still happen.
Without fail, every City fan I have spoken to in recent weeks has voiced some concerns about where enough goals will come from in the Premier League.
Cameron Jerome has a lot of doubters to prove wrong at this level. I firmly believe he will do just that and be a real thorn in the side of top flight defences.
We need him to be at his meanest and beastiest best and the strikes will come.
Lewis Grabban has the pace and the ability to cut the mustard this season and I really hope he can be clinical enough on a regular basis.
RVW and Gary Hooper remain the enigmas in our squad.
Both clearly have it in them to succeed but we’re still waiting to watch the potential be realised.
What gives me encouragement is that I feel there are goals to come from other areas to back up those which the frontmen net.
We all know what Jonno can do, see the column opposite for my views on Redmond, Mulumbu will certainly contribute as I’m sure will Brady, Wes and Howson.
Defensively we will undoubtedly be tested – and there will be weeks when we’re put to the sword.
However, City aren’t alone in this and I’m confident we’ll have a strong backbone when the going gets tough.
Let’s do this! OTBC.
• I’M PLUMPING FOR 15TH SPOT THIS SEASON
I was interested to hear that betting chain Coral has been announced as the new sponsor of the Barclay Stand.
More support for the club has to be good news and I’m interested in the prospect of sponsored away days which has to be welcomed for the most loyal fans.
I’m not a gambler myself – and regular readers of this column will know that I tend not to have massive success with my regular predictions.
Having said that I did (from a fairly early stage) say that I thought it would be our year for a return to Wembley.
Living on the success of that, I’m going for a few predictions for the year ahead.
Firstly, I think City will finish 15th in the table.
While another trip to Wembley will elude us, I do believe we will have more success in cup competitions than in previous years. I’ll go for a quarter final place in the league cup and fifth round in the FA Cup.
Brady will prove to be a very useful addition and I think he’s going to be a huge hit with fans. Steve Bruce clearly didn’t want to lose him. Their loss is our gain.
Redmond was my standout player in the final stages of the promotion push. I had doubted him earlier in the campaign but he showed us what he can do.
Watch out for him to shine in our build up play and as he contributes vital goals.
One more prediction – Ruddy back in the England squad.