McNally’s reality check for Norwich City fans

Norwich City chief executive David McNally has dampened down rising expectations by insisting the Canaries are punching above their weight.

Paul Lambert has guided the club into the Championship top four, after running away with League One last season, but McNally injected a dose of realism into City's upward rise at a well-attended fans' forum.

'We have been very lucky in that Paul has been able to punch above his weight,' said McNally. 'He has transformed our football performance above anyone's expectations.

'With Paul and the board we have a seven-year plan in place based on football expectations and finances. We'd given ourselves two years to get out of League One so we are already one year ahead of that.

'Realistically we have given ourselves three years in the Championship, so to go from 67th in the country at the start of the 2009 season to Premier League would be some achievement.

'This year the first thing we need to do is stay in the Championship. If we finished anywhere in the top half it would be a fantastic achievement, considering where we have been.'

Lambert acknowledged City are operating on an uneven playing field.

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'You have to walk before you can run,' he said. 'What we have to realise is we can't win every single game. You look at the clubs who have come down from the Premiership and they are huge football clubs with vast resources. You look at Leicester and Sven-Goran Eriksson would not go in there if they didn't have the money to do it. There are big clubs who haven't had the difficulties we have had.

'There might come a time when we wonder where the next win comes from because at the minute we seem to win, win, lose, win. There has never been a plateau. It's just a non stop rise and if it wasn't I would probably be out of a job. After we beat Bristol City the other week I heard the fans singing we are going up again and there was only 11 games gone. There has to be a realism at the football club because everyone wants to get to the Premier.'

McNally confirmed admission prices are set to rise next season in line with the club's on going battle to reduce their debts.

'As far as the debt is concerned we plan to be at zero debt by the end of the seven years,' he said. 'If Paul and the guys reach the Premier before that, fine, we just bring the plans forward but I am hearing more about the Premier than I think is healthy. We have to fix the balance sheet. I know it's the boring stuff but its essential and it will probably take the seven years.'