Svensson - No room for false start in the Premier League
Norwich City's former Premier League striker Mathias Svensson knows from bitter experience City need to hit the ground running back in the top flight.
Svensson was part of Nigel Worthington's squad in 2004-05 that went 14 league games before picking up their first win on the club's return to the big time. The Canaries' late season rally raised hopes of a final day escape, but Svensson feels Paul Lambert's men can open their account at Wigan on August 13.
'We had a good draw at home to Crystal Palace in our first game but then we had to go to Man United and face Arsenal which was tough,' said the former Swedish international.
'If you can manage to win one of those type of games against the bigger teams especially it gives you so much confidence to have that under your belt. We took a while to get the first win and for a new promoted side that is hard.
'All players will tell you what a big part confidence plays and it is no different at that level. It is so difficult to win games that those first three, four or five matches are pretty crucial. Everyone knows there aren't any easy games but to play Wigan away and then Stoke at home is an ideal start. You know Stoke have done well the last few years, but the gap between the promoted clubs and those type of clubs gets smaller every year.'
Svensson insists the Carrow Road factor should not be underestimated.
'The fans really do have an important role to play in all of this,' he said. 'They are known for the support they give to the team and we had that the season we were in the Premier League. They have to show patience and stick with the players, like they did with us. I think they can have a good season and maybe upset a few of the more established teams.
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'I still think there are three or four mini leagues that exist within the Premier League and you can more or less know which teams might be around you in the table and the games that could be really crucial.
'If you stay up the first year you can build again. We had that with Charlton when I was there. It was so important the club did things right on and off the field. Charlton didn't get carried away. They had a settled squad and just added to it and I think that is the right way to go about things.'
Svensson – who now works on the technical staff at Swedish club Elfsborg – believes Norwich can buck the trend.
'It is going to be tough to stay there. That is nothing against Norwich but you can see how difficult it has been for the newcomers in recent years,' he said. 'I saw a few games on television last season and they looked to have a good group. Pre-season now is so important to work on things. We felt back in 2004 that we were ready to go and could compete, but unfortunately in the end we just didn't have enough to stay up.
'With all the money available in the Premier League now it is hard for Norwich to compete and get hold of those types of proven players.
'What they seem to have is the settled base there and you then try to add one or two – which is what the manager is obviously trying to do.'