The start of a new football season is always an exciting day for me, and I’m sure for you too.
As somebody who loves the game and has been looking forward to the next game, whenever that may be, for the last forty odd years, the opening day is always a moment to savour.
I love that opening day buzz around Carrow Road. The warm sunshine on your back as you walk to the ground full of optimism for what lies ahead as you stroll with thousands of others and then you see the stadium appear in the distance. This is the place, a place that I have been coming to, as I say, for over forty years. Other than home and the homes of relatives and close friends, it’s probably the place that I have been to more than any other in my life and yet, this season things are entirely different.
I know we are away at Huddersfield today, which would make the trip impossible for thousands anyway, but, without crowds and without the realistic return of them looking likely anytime soon, it ‘s just all very different, isn’t it?
I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about the build up, as usual and I was somewhat relieved to hear from Daniel Farke on Friday that only Josh Martin was a new injury absentee. Last season, it seemed that on occasions, completely out of the blue, that he would suddenly announce that half the defence would be out injured for three months or so. Fingers crossed that we don’t suffer anything similar this time out.
Grant Hanley and Sam Byram are still working their way back to fitness after months out but other than that, we sound like we are ready to go, with Onel Hernandez, who was a doubt at Luton, also now described as being fully fit.
The swath of players who were missing for that Luton game, away on international duty, have all returned unscathed as well although the lack of time for Farke to work with them ahead of this game does concern me a little.
Will the latest new boy, Ben Gibson, make his debut today? Probably not is my feeling. He has only just arrived and I would be surprised if Farke were to throw him in so soon, before he understands completely his new coach’s methods and instructions fully.
In any case, Farke has fully fit players who are up to speed in the shape of Ben Godfrey, Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose. It will be interesting to see which two out of those three start the game, assuming Gibson isn’t ready.
The transfer of Jamal Lewis to Newcastle United means that either Xavi Quintilla or Sam McCallum will take his place today. Quintilla looks the most likely bet, having been a player that the club have tracked for awhile. His experience in La Liga should hold him in good stead but he won’t have experienced the Championship before and after a quiet pre-season, I have literally no idea if he is ready or not. You can be sure that whoever he is up against in blue and white today will be looking to test him early on.
The midfield defensive position suddenly looks much more competitive after the arrivals of Oliver Skipp and Jacob Sorensen although the latter sounds as though he is more of a complete midfield player rather than just a DM. It will be interesting to see how Farke wants him to play. Alex Tettey, the elder statesman of the group is still here and looks as willing as ever but this might just be the season that old Father Time catches up with him and I’m sure he accepts that, so his appearances look likely to be more limited but we’ve said that before, haven’t we?
If the squad can stay together as it is, and that’s a big IF, then we will be truly competitive and have huge strength in depth. Indeed, it will be a challenge for Farke to keep everybody happy and getting enough game time. The additions of Kieron Dowell, Przemyslaw Placheta, Danel Sinani and Jordan Hugill to the forward positions make for other, different, options too and Dowell might just be the answer to the goal scoring number 10 that we have been missing.
Hugill is a physical player and almost the complete opposite type of striker to Teemu Pukki, which is a good thing. But, he’s going to need crosses to attack and against Luton last week, he didn’t get a lot of service in that department.
There are many questions to be answered and despite not being able to watch the games in person, there is still a lot to look forward to for Norwich City fans. Is promotion a viable dream? We’ll know in the coming months and without a Competitive win in months and after what is it now, eleven or twelve straight defeats? I’ve lost count, a win at Huddersfield would go some way to restoring some confidence around the place for what lies ahead.
ON THE BALL CITY!!!