THE TUCKSTER thinks City’s promotion was timed perfectly considering how strong the Championship is likely to be next season.
I`ve always been an optimistic kind of bloke with regard to the Glorious Canaries. Every year I think we`re going to be promoted so last season wasn`t really a surprise to me – I expected it!
All joking aside, as the first few weeks of last season went by I felt we could do something in the top six. As the season went on and we drubbed Ipswich in November I honestly thought we could achieve top two. It was certainly there for the taking.
I`m very glad that we did make the leap last season and I think there are a few reasons why it happened.
We started the season with a winning mentality as a result of cruising to the League One championship title. It`s an old cliché that “winning is a good habit to get into” but it`s true. This City team are used to winning and most of our current squad have only really known that feeling while wearing the yellow and green.
That doesn`t happen by sheer luck and much has been said about Paul Lambert`s contribution to building the team and spirit of the squad – not to mention successful tactics.
Another very important aspect and also an unusual one was that of the three teams relegated from the Premier League the previous season, Hull City, Portsmouth and Burnley, none of them was a promotion challenger.
Hull and Portsmouth were in serious financial difficulties while Burnley lost their top scorer to Wolves, made little investment and started off with Brian Laws at the helm. This gave a number of other clubs a chance that in previous season they might not have had and something the Canaries took advantage of.
My dream this season is no longer promotion but merely staying up. History seems to suggest that if you can stay for one season then you may well stay for a few. The longer you stay there the more you can invest and the more comfortable your position in the league becomes.
We have wealthy owners in Michael and Delia but they aren`t rolling in cash enough to bankroll a massive rebuilding programme of awesome players. The prices being bandied about in this transfer window are as huge as ever and they will all want a big pay package as well.
If we are to stay in the league we will have to do it the hard way and rely on many of the present squad as well as new additions who lack experience but hopefully have plenty of desire to do well.
Delia spoke several years ago of holding up Charlton Athletic as the club that Norwich City should aspire to copy. Well, we actually did that by following them into the abyss of League One – an abyss they have struggled to escape.
A couple of clubs that are more modern examples seem to be Wolves and Stoke City.
Wolves managed a bit of a yo-yo style couple of seasons and struggled again last year but have managed to stay up and are now investing heavily. They have already signed Jamie O`Hara for £5m and are now in talks with Birmingham`s Roger Johnson for £7m.
These are the sort of purchases that are beyond our reach – at the moment. A couple of seasons in the premier league and it could be us.
Stoke have done very well and comfortably stayed up in their first season. They have gone from strength to strength and had another comfortable season as well as being FA Cup finalists.
One club definitely not worth following is West Ham. The Hammers have slumped into the Championship with reports of financial implosion following them down.
I seem to remember Gold and Sullivan giving a press conference in which they stated that if relegated, the club would most likely go out of business. This does not appear to be happening. The first thing they did was to bin Avram Grant and replace him with Sam Allardyce. Now Big Sam cannot be a cheap option and his first action was to sign Kevin Nolan from Newcastle on a massive contract.
I think it was four years after he turned down a two-year reported £55K a week contract at St. James` Park. That sort of wage surely isn`t sustainable in the Championship unless you`re minted – and I didn`t think they were – they`re still paying Kieron Dyer £85K a week…West Ham are clearly going for the death or glory style of promotion challenge.
Another team to watch will be Leicester City who are now being bank rolled by a wealthy backer and making major investments in playing staff.
Birmingham City have a few problems behind the scenes but should still be a force, as for Blackpool? My mate Craig is a Seasider and is predicting mid table at best – not to mention Cardiff, Forest, Burnley and seemingly rejuvenated Portsmouth and Hull.
Nope, I`m very glad that we made last season our promotion season because the Championship will yet again be the most competitive league in English football.
Obviously I wasn`t expecting anything less…
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