Good week for Norwich City - now we need results on the pitch

Manager Chris Hughton realises he has a good set-up at Norwich City and is clearly keen to make a success of his time in charge. Manager Chris Hughton realises he has a good set-up at Norwich City and is clearly keen to make a success of his time in charge.

Saturday, October 20, 2012
9:48 AM

It’s been a good week for the club with the highly successful hosting of the England Under-21 game against Serbia and the news that the Academy has been recommended for Category One status under the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan.

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That’s a really exciting development, which means that the club will be in a good position to attract the very best young talent in future.

With the finances in good shape as well there is much for the board to feel happy about, but the one cloud on their horizon will be results on the pitch. While there is no doubt that the fixture computer has been unkind, and the gap between City and the lower mid-table isn’t significant at this stage, there will be growing concern if the poor run continues into November.

With the new Sky deal coming into play, Premiership survival is becoming ever more important as the gulf between the elite league and the Championship widens further

Parachute payments help but earlier this year investment managers Brewin Dolphin estimated that, even with them, the drop in a relegated club’s turnover is around £40 million. That’s a sobering thought, but the fact that of the 30 clubs relegated over the last 10 years less than half have returned to the top flight, and only eight have done so immediately, is a positively chilling one.

A quote from Margaret Byrne, Sunderland’s chief executive, sums up why Premier League survival is so important. She said: “The guaranteed income from Premier League football allows clubs to grow and develop year on year. When clubs are recognised as Premier League clubs, there is also much more interest worldwide – from players aiming to play in this great league to sponsors wanting to utilise the effect of a global audience to promote their brand.”

In a nutshell, the Premier League is an exclusive club that everyone wants to join and no one wants to leave. While there are many aspects of it that supporters find tiresome, none of us, if we are honest, want our club to be anywhere else.

However, it does seem at present that City could become mired in a relegation battle, as second season syndrome seems to be turning into reality, not just for us but for QPR and Swansea too.

While the Swans started well there is now apparently disquiet in the dressing room over Michael Laudrup’s training methods, and QPR’s extravagance in the transfer market isn’t buying points.

As far as the Canaries are concerned, the worry is that the early season promise shown at Spurs has dissipated, with an apparent improvement in defensive stability going into reverse over the last few weeks, although one has to factor the quality of opposition into the equation.

However, a combination of leaking goals while struggling to score them isn’t a healthy one, and must be rectified sooner rather than later.

That said, I still have total faith in Chris Hughton. He hasn’t become a bad manager overnight, although there seems to be a small minority of fans almost willing him to fail, which I find really sad.

What’s more, if we are to have a stable club going forward we will need a manager who is prepared to commit.

Paul Lambert, for all that he achieved, was never going to stay around for too long, but Hughton strikes me as someone who reciprocates when shown loyalty, and he has already hinted that he would like to be here for a long time.

Of course, that’s irrelevant if he can’t produce results, but a combination of debt free status, an Academy able to attract the best talent from around the UK and managerial stability is an attractive prospect, especially if it can be achieved in the top flight.

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