Johan Elmander detects a cultural shift in the Premier League
Norwich City's on-loan striker Johan Elmander insists the Premier League has taken a great leap forward during his two-year stint with Turkish champions Galatasaray.
The 32-year-old has started both the Canaries' previous two league games since a goalscoring brace helped sink Bury in the Capital One Cup, but Elmander admits the English top flight is a different beast to the one he left at Bolton, where he made 92 league appearances for the Trotters in a three-year spell before moving to Istanbul.
'I think it is more difficult nowadays because the quality of player has got better,' he said. 'The tempo of the game is also higher, maybe it is because I am get a little older and more tired, but the league has improved a lot even in the two years I have been away. You have many more teams who can be up there challenging for the title. It is harder to score goals and the defenders have improved. That is what I feel. It is a little different to the tempo I was used to in the Turkish league with Galatasaray. I take the three years I had at Bolton away with me so, of course, I know what the English league is all about which means it is a bit easier for me to adjust.
'The managers are getting better also. They get to learn new tactical stuff. Sometimes I am watching other Premier League games and you can see little things and how the managers are perhaps thinking a different way. You see how the left and right backs play now they are really high up and they are more involved in the attacking phase of the game. Football is evolving, not only here but around the world, but I am confident I can still score.'
Elmander was refreshingly candid when discussing his display at Tottenham in a collectively anaemic offering from Chris Hughton's squad.
'I feel I am getting to grips with it every week although Tottenham perhaps wasn't my best,' he said. 'On a personal level I have come into the team really quickly and they are a good set of lads and the management. I am very happy how the first few weeks have gone for me.
'Tottenham is a great team who I think they will be in the top four this season. They have quality players and they have bought well. We were a little bit too deep and that allowed them to control the game and create chances. We should have stood a little higher up the pitch. They were pressing high and we were losing too much ball. When we did have it we were unable to control it.
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'We know it is difficult against the big teams but we learn something from every game you play. You always want to be winning games. That is what football is all about. I don't know about a reaction (against Aston Villa) but we certainly want to make a better performance.'
Elmander offers an authoritative voice on the difficulties faced by players like Leroy Fer and Ricky van Wolfswinkel in acclimatising to a new way of footballing life.
'Slowly I think it is coming together. It takes time when you are new to the dressing room to get your position but I hope I can pass on things to the younger boys and they can learn from my experience,' he said. 'I remember when I was new and coming to England it was a big step. That will be the same for Ricky coming from Portugal. He has been working hard and he has scored goals wherever he has played.
'It takes practice to work on a partnership but there are other players fighting hard for those forward positions. We have had some good practice sessions on the attacking side of things and we are learning how the manager wants us to play.'
The Swedish international continues to keep tabs on his parent club, with Elmander admitting Gala's midweek Champions League 6-1 home drubbing to Real Madrid proved to be tough viewing.
'I was sitting in front of the television almost crying,' he smiled. 'They had some good chances in the beginning of the game but when you play good teams you have to take them because you know they will come back at you.'