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The seven years are nearly up so what’s the new plan for Norwich City?

PUBLISHED: 06:18 06 August 2015

Norwich City manager Alex Neil is relaxed about his Premier League bow. 
Picture: Antony Kelly.

Norwich City manager Alex Neil is relaxed about his Premier League bow. Picture: Antony Kelly.

Archant Norfolk 2015

Remember the seven-year plan?

Revealed by chief executive David McNally shortly after he joined the club, it outlined the expected direction of travel for the Canaries in the forthcoming years. Well, how time flies, as Norwich City are about to enter the final season of that period.

And a look back at the ambitions outlined in December 2010 shows that, on the face of it, McNally and Co can be pleased with the job they have done.

The plan was already a year old when he used the club’s latest accounts to reveal its existence.

Target one, promotion from League One, had already been secured. After that it allowed for three seasons of consolidation in the Championship, a Premier League season with instant relegation and then an immediate leap back. Year seven, therefore, was supposed to be the season the club, free from its debts, started to establish itself as a top-flight side.

In reality, supporters have been treated to even better fortunes than that, with 2015/16 about to become season four out of the last seven in the top flight, as opposed to the expected season two.

Ultimately, however, the year seven ambition remains the same – this is the season Norwich City needs to become an established top-flight club.

The recent three-year stint in the Premier League so very nearly put City in that position. However, a combination of poor tactics, duff signings, a delay in taking an action at board level and even, as Russell Martin admitted, a bit of complacency, saw that progress come shuddering to a halt.

But now is the time Norwich City needs to go from one of English football’s yo-yo teams and follow the likes of Swansea and Southampton, rather than Hull and QPR.

Not every fan will agree with that, one would imagine. It was clear last season that some people rather enjoyed the Championship – possibly even more than the league above it.

But to my mind, give those people two or three consecutive years of it and they, along with so many others, may change that opinion – perhaps even drift away from their regular pilgrimage to Carrow Road.

I want my side to pit itself against the best teams in the country. To work towards a situation where a cup final (and another day at Wembley of course) or a stint of European football (I’d welcome some Europa League action) becomes a possibility.

I’ll throw in one extra caveat while I’m in the mood – let’s see Norwich City play the right way as well.

There’s no doubt in my mind Alex Neil will lean more towards the Paul Lambert, inset, method of tackling the big boys, as opposed to Chris Hughton’s.

Under Hughton the players became stifled by negativity, playing to defend in the hope a bonus goal might steal three points.

There are fantastic teams and players in this league, but City’s best tactic is to have the self-belief they can go toe-to-toe with them. Let’s hope this is a season of good, positive and entertaining football.

Belief gets you so far – we need the talent too, and in that respect this squad still needs a centre back and a striker as a pressing concern. Sort that out, Mr Neil, and it’s good to go.

Priority number one for the new season – and no doubt at the very top of McNally’s new seven-year plan – is simply to be better than at least three more teams in this league. Stay in the league and we can build from there. And that’s something I firmly believe City can do.

My 2015/16 end of season league table prediction...

1 Chelsea

2 Manchester United

3 Manchester City

4 Arsenal

5 Liverpool

6 Everton

7 Southampton

8 Tottenham Hotspur

9 Stoke

10 Crystal Palace

11 West Ham

12 West Brom

13 Newcastle

14 Swansea

15 Aston Villa

16 Norwich

17 Bournemouth

18 Sunderland

19 Leicester

20 Watford

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