Canaries are a bunch of happy campers in their Italian retreat

x of Novara and y of Norwich City during the Pre Season Friendly match at Piergiorgio Perucca Stadium, Aosta
Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd +39 333 1641678
20/07/2014 x of Novara and y of Norwich City during the Pre Season Friendly match at Piergiorgio Perucca Stadium, Aosta Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd +39 333 1641678 20/07/2014

Paddy Davitt
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
4:58 PM

Appearances may indeed be deceptive but beneath the magnificent scenery of City’s idyllic Italian retreat and the embarrassingly weak opposition signs of new life are evident.

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This is a happy group of Norwich City players. You do not need to be inside the camp to deduce that. The body language is positive, the interaction and the banter evident for all those in attendance at Sunday’s 13-0 training work-out against part-timers SC Vallee d’Aoste.

City’s first half line up were gently barracked at times by team mates sat in the main stand of the 2,500 capacity stadium nestled in the foothills of the Alps. Neil Adams and his coaching staff watched the ebb and flow intently, picking out trends and filing away information which may be essential when the real action begins.

You can focus on the narrower aspects of lightweight opposition and the value of such an academic exercise but City will get plenty of tough tests in the harsher terrain of the Championship. What Adams is striving to do this summer is construct the basic framework, the solid edifice that will equip Norwich to go to a Rotherham or a Cardiff and resist when they find themselves under intense pressure.

Team work and team spirit are not clichés bandied about to project an image of unity; they are requisite components in any successful side. Andrew Surman has already drawn comparisons between the spirit that bonded the Championship promotion-winning side of 2011 and this collective. Kyle Lafferty’s testimonial on the same positive line carries added credence given he has come from the outside.

Norwich’s Premier League struggle to survive last season foundered on that inability to resist. In the worst moments of a campaign of angst and recrimination, like at Swansea or Southampton, there always appeared a lack of will to resist, an acceptance of the club’s fate; an unwillingness or simply an inability to change the course of the Canaries’ downward spiral.

Russell Martin is an intelligent, erudite footballer in a profession that wrongly is castigated too often for the relative scarcity of intellectual endeavour of those on the pitch. Martin speaks from a position at the very heart of the Norwich dressing room and his City career spans the highs and the lows of recent times. The defender’s admission in the immediate aftermath of relegation that somewhere along the path the club had lost its identity was the starting point for a revival those 20,000 plus season ticket loyalists crave and many others inside Norfolk and further afield. Martin spoke honestly and candidly about re-discovering values which had propelled them through the leagues on a dizzying ascent. The captain will be a key figure on the pitch and in the changing room over these coming months. You can see that in the way he has carried himself in the first, early moments of a season which must only be judged come next May rather than the picturesque surroundings of Chatillon Saint Vincent against mediocre opposition.

Right now, it is all about fitness and integration; between new players and ones who had to endure the pain of last season, and the new breed merging with the established order. There is a refreshing youthful vigour to City’s squad now with the Murphy brothers, Jamar Loza, Adel Gafaiti et al when last season there seemed too often a weariness, a lack of spark or invention. Adams has shown the same willingness to bring players back into the fold and sideline others that characterised his brief spell in charge prior to his permanent elevation. Wes Hoolahan at the point of a midfield diamond will cause better teams and better players palpitations than he has faced so far in pre-season.

Adams also increasingly looks the part. The youth team coach is now the first team manager and that authority and distance is vital in the eyes of his players and the fans. You get a growing sense this is his squad and his time.

Hammering non league sides at home and abroad after a much tougher opening test at neighbours Dereham Town will be a worthwhile exercise if the Canaries hit the ground running next month. But the stirrings of renewal are inescapable.

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10 comments

  • Oooh, Mattias. Leave out the "H" word. It incites... "H". Your tor-Mentor. ;-)

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    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

  • total side note but seeing the image in this article reminds me how much I HATE the championship shirt numbers they supply. Thought they would have made them a bit more classy by now!

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    Mattias333

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Surely a friendly game of 5-a-side between NCFC and Archant staff in Italy would be more productive than the friendly sunday against a pub side. Like previous said, get the boots out paddy! Michael doesn't mind a game now and then as well!

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    Mattias333

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Too much time on your hands Paddy .......... stick ya boots on and get training with the squad tonight .......... OTBC

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    nevermindthedanger

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Well if it's all happy clappy, there won't be any more transfers out from the squad in Italy. I feel for RVW - was his injury so bad he couldn't travel and be treated over there with the newly integrated squad? His sense of inclusion is really going to have to be worked on. And where this all leaves Bassong and Becchio - presumably a case of no reasonable offer refused? I would also assume that the squad will be on a significant bonus for promotion this year as well to give a little more motivation for performance and for staying?

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    Surrey Canary

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • What a load of nonsense about body language and banter. Is Davitt employed by NFC as a PR spinner? What on earth are City doing in Italy playing the equivalent of pub teams? Why not stay at home and play the local village teams. Much more cost effective and about as good for preparing for the season ahead,

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    stormy

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Positive spin on events while the phoney war continues. When hostilities begin at Wolves we will know whether the likes of Hoolahan are still part of the squad. After that we still have to reach the end of the window when the club's resolve will have been fully tested.

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    Lincs Canary

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • D'ya reckon you're up for the Pulitzer prize this year Paddy .......... OTBC

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    nevermindthedanger

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Another opponent has pulled out of the tour. That's 3 opposition or game changes so far - who is organising this tour? Hardly the preparation we need. I hope they're bonding well because they're not getting much decent game time...

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    Crazy canary

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Davitt recycling again.

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    Sherbert

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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