Plenty of reasons for Norwich City fans to be excited
PUBLISHED: 16:50 09 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:50 09 August 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
We’re back! I have to admit to being pretty excited about the new domestic football season.
Some of you may think I’m a bit crazy as we are starting in the second tier of English football again after that depressing relegation back in May.
There are other facts and factors which may also give those who believe I’m a bit crackers plenty of ammunition.
City haven’t won an opening league fixture for 12 years and have failed to return from an away curtain raiser with maximum points since way back in 1995 (more about the opening day matches further down the column).
Also we have lost our record signing striker, last year’s first team captain is a forgotten man, the possibility is still around that our England goalkeeper and World Cup midfielder could be lured away and there are more big teams than ever in the Championship with shedloads of cash.
In addition to that, the Canaries have a largely untested manager whose league record so far is played five, lost four and won none.
So, what gives me any hope for optimism as we gear up for the 2014/15 Championship campaign? Well, the first thing to be up front about is that my excitement isn’t necessarily based on the thought that the Canaries will go straight up.
I don’t think we will. Fulham look favourites to me and I tip Wigan (who won’t have those European distractions) to join them in the top two. I fancy City to be in the mix in and around the play-offs and we’ll see from there.
What gives me most hope about the big kick-off is that I really feel Neil Adams will ensure our team play open and attractive football and score goals. Remember those days?
Don’t get me wrong – I love winning and don’t like losing, and drawing depends on the opponents and context of the game.
However, maybe it is my age or having endured so much turgid dross in the last couple of years that I am just looking forward to enjoying going to Carrow Road.
As soon as Lewis Grabban signed from Bournemouth, I was told by regular watchers of Championship football that he will score lots of goals at that level. The signs so far from the friendlies are that he will do just that.
I hope he is partnered with Kyle Lafferty in a proper two up top formation and they will trouble lots of back lines.
Where does that leave Gary Hooper? Well, it’s simple – he will have to prove himself. And if he starts bagging goals, then what a great dilemma for NA.
I sense Luciano Becchio faces another frustrating season and surely he should go out on loan to get some action.
This is a massive year for Nathan Redmond. He has so much potential and if he can deliver quality balls and hit the target as well as running directly at defenders, he will take the league by storm.
Throw into the mix Wes Hoolahan, Jamar Lozar, the Murphy twins, Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington, and there is one heck of a striking threat. In the middle there are also lots of options. Andrew Surman feels like a new signing and if Jonny Howson can quickly get fit he will be a key part of Adams’ plans.
Leroy Fer may or may not go. If he stays then that’s great. I felt he disappeared at the end of last season and if we cash in properly on him then it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Defensively, I still think there is a need to strengthen. I’m more likely to get another run out at Carrow Road before Sebastien Bassong does and that only leaves Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett and Michael Turner in the heart of the back line.
Cover at right back is a key and I fear Steven Whittaker’s lack of pace may get exposed. And right at the back, we need to keep everything crossed that John Ruddy stays.
I’d suggest Adams and David McNally switch off incoming calls as deadline day nears and having the big man in between the sticks will be a massive boost.
On the ball, City!
• NOTHING BETTER THAN TO GET THE NEW SEASON OFF TO A FLYING START
I mentioned about opening day fixtures and City’s lack of success in the past 20 years.
Four wins, seven draws and nine defeats tends to back up the idea that Norwich are pretty slow starters.
Of course, it is only one game out of 38 (or now 46).
You can look at the defeats against Colchester and Watford in 2010 and 2011 and point out that the seasons both ended with promotions. Last year we got a hugely creditable 2-2 draw with highly fancied Everton and that goal from RVW and of course we all know how the campaign ended.
Victory at Wolves won’t mean we will all of a sudden be title favourites and a reversal won’t lead to “Adams Out” chants.
However, wouldn’t it be great to get the season off to a flying start?
I know there will be huge support at Molineux despite the timing and it being on Sky.
We’re at a party on Sunday afternoon so I’ll be relying on texts from mates and a sneaky check of Twitter with the help of our great duo of Mr Davitt and Mr Bailey.
• OPENING DAY RESULTS
Aug 25, 1994 (Prem): Chelsea (A) - L 2-0
Aug 13, 1995 (Div One): Luton (A) - W 3-1
Aug 17, 1996 (Div One): Swindon (H) - W 2-0
Aug 9, 1997 (Div One): Wolves (H) - L 2-0
Aug 8, 1998 (Div One): Crewe (H) - W 2-1
Aug 11, 1999 (Div One): WBA (A) - D 1-1
Aug 12, 2000 (Div One): Barnsley (A) - L 1-0
Aug 11, 2001 (Div One): Millwall (A) - L 4-0
Aug 10, 2002 (Div One): Grimsby (H) - W 4-0
Aug 9, 2003 (Div One): Bradford (A) - D 2-2
Aug 14, 2004 (Prem): C Palace (H) - D 1-1
Aug 6, 2005 (Champ): Coventry (H) - D 1-1
Aug 5, 2006 (Champ): Leeds (A) - L 1-0
Aug 11, 2007 (Champ): Preston (A) - D 0-0
Aug 9, 2008 (Champ): Coventry (A) - L 2-0
Aug 8, 2009 (Lge One): Colchester (H) - L 7-1
Aug 6, 2010 (Champ): Watford (H) - L 3-2
Aug 13, 2011 (Prem): Wigan (A) - D 1-1
Aug 18, 2012 (Prem): Fulham (A) - L 5-0
Aug 17, 2013 (Prem): Everton (H) - D 2-2