Tony Cottee - No need for Norwich City to worry about Premier League relegation battle
Former Norwich City striker turned media pundit Tony Cottee feels it would take a 'complete catastrophe' for the Canaries to become embroiled in the Premier League relegation battle.
Cottee tipped Paul Lambert's side to stay up before a ball was kicked and the ex-England striker has seen nothing to change his mind with the Canaries now 14 points clear of the bottom three.
'I think they have done enough already, but I am sure you won't hear Paul Lambert or anyone inside the club saying that,' he said. 'I was on Sky's 'Soccer Saturday' show, the first one of the season, and I was asked a question about which of the three promoted teams did I think had the best chance of staying up and I actually felt that would be Norwich.
'The reason I said that was because in Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan and Chris Martin, who I know has been out on loan elsewhere, I felt they had enough players with the quality to keep the club in the Premier League.
'I had seen them in League One and the Championship and obviously felt there was enough to survive and stay in the Premier League. I thought QPR and Swansea would both struggle but that Norwich had the best squad to have a chance, although I didn't think they would be in such a good position ten games before the end. Barring a complete catastrophe where they never got another point, they would be really, really unlucky now not to stay up.'
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Cottee expects the planning to begin in earnest should City secure their Premier League status over the coming weeks to try and avoid the dreaded 'second season syndrome'.
'There are two key seasons. The first one is staying up, which is essential, and the second key one is the one after,' he said. 'Many teams have come up into the Premier League and had an outstanding first season, but they lose the momentum and end up getting relegated.
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'Although a lot of hard work has been done this year, I'm sure once they are safe, and I think one more win definitely does that, I'm sure Paul Lambert will start to plan for next year. He'll want to keep the squad fresh, maybe bring in one or two new faces and get that Premier League money in the bank and maybe you can go out and get some even better players.'
The Skysports analyst insists the Canaries can establish themselves as a Premier League entity over the longer term.
'I'm a huge fan of Paul Lambert,' said Cottee. 'He has done absolutely fantastic over the past few seasons but there is still a lot work to be done next season and once they are safe I'm sure the manager and players will start to focus on that.
'If you rest on your laurels and say, 'We've had a great season, let's keep the same players,' then I think you can come unstuck. I'm not saying that is what will happen to Norwich but you need to build the squad and once you get past the second season then you are looking at the likes of Stoke, Bolton, Wigan who have done outstandingly well to stay in it.'