Norwich City fans can pretend they like the Championship, but the Premier League is the place to be
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There's a school of thought that it's much more fun to be a Norwich City fan in the Championship than in the Premier League.
Scintillating away wins like the one at Nottingham Forest on Saturday lend weight to the theory that winning more and being second in the table is better for the soul than a gruelling relegation battle and worrying about which set of multi-millionaires might wipe the floor with your team next.
We may be deprived of a white knuckle Premier League ride this season and the chance to see the Canaries test themselves against Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte, but a recurring theme may be the enjoyment that can be had in watching Championship teams trying to copy what they're seeing on Match of the Day every week, even though they are nowhere near as good as Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal.
Take those dedicated followers of fashion from Wigan, who rocked up to Carrow Road last week. Every self-respecting football hipster knows that having a goalkeeper with a big pair of gloves is no longer enough. The modern keeper is supposed to be able to play with his feet as well. Starting moves from the back and acting as a sweeper in the way that Germany's Manuel Neuer does. It's widely thought that it was Joe Hart's failing feet rather than his hands that saw him loaned out of Manchester City by Guardiola.
The theory is that instead of lumping the ball up the pitch and turning possession into a 50/50 battle between the heads of your striker and their lump of a centre half, look after the ball and carefully manipulate it into the best position to mount an attack. Wigan's Adam Bogdan tried that after just three minutes against Norwich City. The Hungarian tapped the ball forward ready to give it a hoof, but didn't spot Jacob Murphy, who nipped in to score the easiest goal that he would get for at least the next seven minutes when he was allowed to head in his second of the match from point-blank range.
That sort of defending may explain why Wigan are in the bottom three. Norwich have also beaten the other two basement clubs in the Championship. On the opening day of the season they made light work of Blackburn Rovers' attempts to coin Mourinho's favourite phrase by 'parking the bus'. Owen Coyle's plan to defend deeply and hit Norwich on the counter would have been a great one if they hadn't put the first part of it into practice in such hapless fashion. It was a 4-1 win that felt more like an extension to pre-season.
Cardiff are bottom of the table after taking their inspiration and formation from the Wales national team. This is understandable given that their manager, the former Norwich City coach Paul Trollope, was part of Chris Coleman's backroom team during that excellent run at Euro 2016. But Cardiff don't have Gareth Bale. One Bluebirds supporter called Nigel Harris summed it up in one pithy tweet over the weekend when he said 'When CardiffCityFC stated they'd play The Wales Way, why didn't they tell us it was Bobby Gould's Wales?'
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But sometimes it does work to follow the crowd. Remember how some people at school always seemed to know which records to buy, which clothes to wear and the right TV shows to be able to quote? Well in the Championship, that's Huddersfield Town. The Terriers are top, two points clear of Norwich, after hearing all the fuss about Klopp and his 'Gegenpress' approach that caught the imagination at Borussia Dortmund and made him Liverpool's number one target around this time last year.
Huddersfield appointed David Wagner, who worked under Klopp at Dortmund, last November. He has instilled the same relentless ideals there and with the basic theory being that the opposition should be given as little time on the ball as possible. It's working so far but will they have the energy to do that for 46 games of the Championship slog?
Those scars from losing two relegation battles in three seasons are still very visible amongst City fans, but there's no doubt the Premier League is the place to be. We can pretend we like the Championship, but the truth is it wouldn't be anywhere near as exciting if promotion to the Premier League wasn't the ultimate prize.
We may be deprived of football's box office stars so it's best to make the most of the growing number of tribute acts that will be playing stadium gigs at Carrow Road between now and May.
Timm Klose: the not so secret footballer
Most Norwich City supporters are pleasantly surprised that Timm Klose is still with the club. His departure for greener pastures seemed inevitable from the moment relegation was confirmed in May.
But the Canaries resisted whatever overtures were made in the Swiss defender's direction over the summer and the way he continued this useful knack of being stationed in the right place to bring opposition attacks to an abrupt halt was one of the main reasons why Norwich won at Forest on Saturday.
As it turns out we've probably seen rather more of Klose than we expected, or even needed, to. Within moments of the final whistle on Saturday a message appeared on his social media account featuring the majority of the Norwich City squad lined up in the dressing room wearing beaming smiles and not a lot else.
I brought the pictures to Alex Neil's attention when he appeared for his post-match interview. The withering look on his face suggested that if Klose hadn't made it as a footballer he would be that man in the office who would relish hiding your car keys, pretending to be a disgruntled customer while phoning you from the next desk or changing the background of your computer to a dubious picture while you nipped to the toilet. He seems to be, shall we say, 'a bit of a character'.
He's already had the team appearing online in their pants and it's only September. What if this winning run continues?