Early days but City have got me guessing

General consensus suggests you have to wait a good 10 games before drawing any conclusions about what sort of season your club is likely to have.Let's hope that's the case, because five matches into the new campaign I'm struggling to know exactly what to expect from Norwich City this time round.

General consensus suggests you have to wait a good 10 games before drawing any conclusions about what sort of season your club is likely to have.

Let's hope that's the case, because five matches into the new campaign I'm struggling to know exactly what to expect from Norwich City this time round.

A win, a draw and a defeat from three contrasting league games, a cup tie of two halves against Barnet, this week's unconvincing performance at lowly Rochdale. Not quite Jekyll and Hyde, but hardly consistent, all the same.

I was offered an interesting punt on the eve of the season: that newly-promoted Sunderland would finish higher in the Premiership than Norwich manage in the Championship come next May.


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My immediate reaction was to shake hands on the (modest) wager there and then; mere survival would surely do for Sunderland, while the top six has to be the Canaries' aim.

But think about it for moment. Where would you put your money right now?

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Notwithstanding their embarrassment at Luton this week, the Black Cats are a club on the up. I'm not entirely convinced about one or two of Roy Keane's close-season signings (if you get my drift), but even so the Irishman clearly has what it takes to become a hugely successful manager - a natural successor to his former boss at Old Trafford, per chance?

While Keane's priority has to be survival, you can bet he'll be setting his sights far higher than simply avoiding the drop. With cash at his disposal, I'd back Keane to further enhance his managerial credentials and wouldn't be surprised if he guided Sunderland to a comfortable finish, somewhere around mid-table.

At the same time a mid-table finish for the Canaries would hardly represent a major improvement on the decline in fortunes since relegation from the Premiership.

Anything less than a genuine push for promotion, or at least the play-offs, would be a major disappointment - a view manager Peter Grant evidently shares with a passion.

With the flurry of new arrivals and departures in close season these continue to be changing times at Carrow Road. I'd say they're also relatively exciting times, after what's gone before.

True, it's going be a little while before we can fully assess the potential of City's new-look squad with any confidence - very possibly more than 10 games the way things are shaping up - but there's no denying that Grant and his team are doing their utmost to freshen things up and lift the overall level of expectation.

I'm pleased to see old boys Jamie Cureton and Darel Russell back in the fold. Now seasoned campaigners, Cureton's already done enough to suggest he can plug the gap left by Robert Earnshaw, while Russell is a welcome addition to a midfield which has struggled, woefully at times, over the past couple of years.

David Marshall is another key signing. The Scot has a tough act to follow, given the Canaries' wonderful goalkeeping tradition, but the early signs are promising and Marshall could well follow in the footsteps of a certain Highlander by becoming a real favourite at Carrow Road.

For all that, the most important signing of all in close season has to be the evergreen, and ever popular, Dion Dublin.

Over the past week the big man has proved he still has plenty to offer on the pitch, with two goals in successive games, but it's his all round experience and presence that could well prove instrumental in helping to shape the fortunes of Norwich City's season.

Dublin talks a lot of sense: the more you listen to him, the more you can't help thinking he also has the credentials to become a top manager in time.

For now, he's adamant the Canaries have what it takes to mix it with the best the Championship has to offer.

Once the pieces fall into place - and injuries permitting - I think he could just be right. Here's hoping.

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