Jackson has no doubts Norwich City can survive in the Premier League
Former Norwich skipper Matt Jackson insists the Canaries are good enough to stay up – but has no divided loyalties ahead of tomorrow's Premier League opener at Wigan.
Jackson is now an Operations Manager with the Latics alongside his media commitments, which will see him in the press box at the DW Stadium this weekend.
The retired defender led Wigan into the Premier League in 2005 after previously making 172 appearances during a five year Carrow Road stint.
'Norwich is still a place I have a lot of affection for – I have a lot of good friends still in the area and I am so pleased for Delia and Michael because they deserve it as well,' he said. 'If Norwich can maintain their momentum then anything is possible.
'People outside the Premier League don't realise, but the step up isn't that great as many think and you can catch a lot of clubs by surprise and pick up points that perhaps you wouldn't expect to get early on.
'They have played good football for the past two seasons and they just have to stick to those principles.'
Jackson warns Wigan will be desperate to avoid a repeat of last season's curtain raiser when they were hammered 4-0 at home by newly-promoted Blackpool.
- 1 A47 closed in both directions after serious crash
- 2 Revealed: Where dangerous parasite has been reported in Norfolk
- 3 Possible foot and mouth disease case investigated at pig farm
- 4 Norfolk deli owner suffers severe spinal injuries in Ibiza diving accident
- 5 Care home which has sat empty for four years to be revived by new owners
- 6 Family sue Wetherspoon after man falls to death in city pub
- 7 7 dogs looking for new homes in Norfolk
- 8 'Great relief' as vets rule out foot and mouth disease at Norfolk farm
- 9 Driver died in crash with tractor after misjudging corner on rural road
- 10 Traffic delays after car plunges into underpass in Yarmouth
'I think the manager will be using that memory at some point during the build up to this game, that is for sure,' he said. 'In an ideal world, Norwich would like to have been at home in the first game.
'Having said that, if you had to be away I think Wigan would have probably have been in your top five because they are not going to be intimidated.
'Likewise, Wigan would say the same. The one thing I would say is that this league is so relentless. You play less games than the Championship, but it is so mentally draining because of the level of the opposition.
'It will really test the 25 man squad and everyone will have to play a part because you can't just rely on the same players.'
Jackson helped Wigan to a credible top ten finish in their first season of Premier League football.
'It's really getting that belief that you belong,' he said. 'In this league you will go a run of games when you don't pick up any points.
'We played the top six one after the other the first season we went up, didn't get any points, and then played three sides around us and got points from them. It's a totally different mindset from a club who perhaps has been used to winning and used to being at the top of the table.
'I believe there are probably a dozen clubs who will all start the season with the same priority of wanting to just stay in the league. Whilst you are trying to compete against the big boys, ultimately you are trying to finish ahead of the teams you expect to be around you. It is so important to stay in the division that first season and then you can build again.'
Roberto Martinez's side conjured a final day escape at Stoke to survive last season and Jackson believes it will always be a struggle for clubs of a similar stature.
'At Wigan we have been in the league seven years now but it is still so tough every season,' he said. 'The problem you have is trying to keep a squad together and to grow and develop it by bringing in maybe six or seven every summer because inevitably the big clubs will come along and look to take the best young players.
'I work with Roberto and the coaching staff on a daily basis and he is building something and trying to evolve a culture and a way of playing. The players he has brought to the club are gradually understanding that and it will take time.
'You lose players like (Charles) N'Zogbia which is tough but I wouldn't be surprised to see him go out and bring in another couple of new faces before the end of the window because that is what you have to do. You have to keep moving things forward.'