August 12, 2011
We’ve waited so long. Like waiting for a sunrise. Like expecting a bus. Like the Take That reunion (what? Just me?). The inevitable moment has arrived; today, Norwich City will play in the Premier League.
What felt like an unusually long pre-season is finally over. Have we attained what we wanted and needed to get us ready for the world’s best?
Was the opposition too weak? Did we train too hard? Did Real Zaragoza come to Carrow Road with hopes of crippling half of our squad before the season has even begun? Who knows? But, today at 3pm, pre-season will simply be a distant dot in our rearview mirrors and, should we come away with three points from Wigan, it will be labeled as an excellent pre-season regime.
July 30, 2011
For all Premier League managers preseason is a learning experience. It’s about learning who, from last year’s squad, still has something to offer? Who, from the summer signings, can compete for a starting place? And it’s about learning how the team is gelling.
With six of the eight preseason outings complete, we should be able to make a handful of concrete statements about the team’s progress. Unfortunately, the games and the manager haven’t given us a great deal to go on.
The temptation is to glance at the scores and make a handful of hasty assumptions. For example, played six; won four (mostly against weak opposition), drawn one (against extremely weak opposition), lost one (against last year’s opposition). On those statistics alone, there’s not much to get even the Barclay End singing.
July 19, 2011
There are very few good reasons to ever leave Norwich City center. However, if you find yourself in England’s eastern capital city and you’re feeling adventurous, (i.e. if there’s nothing good on T.V. on a Sunday afternoon) consider taking the A47 road out of Norwich City centre and drive east for about 40 miles. If you’re paying close attention, eventually you’ll stumble upon the miniscule seaside town of Gorleston. As you’re probably well aware, this fine seaside town, with a population of less than 7,000 fine Norfolk coastline lovers, played host to Paul Lambert’s newly promoted Canaries on Saturday afternoon for their first pre-season fixture. Naturally, it drew a massive bidding war from sports broadcasting companies worldwide…
Apparently, Paul Lambert and his backroom of miracle workers had missed the mass email that almost every other Premier League team received. The subject line read, “Anyone Fancy Preseason in the States?” No fewer than six top flight teams are spending at least a portion of their preparation time in North America. Both Manchester City and United have crossed the pond, but it’s not just the league’s cash cows making an appearance. Everton, Newcastle and Bolton have made U.S. appearances this summer, while West Bromwich were welcomed to California by the San Jose Earthquakes. (If you’re thinking to yourself, “San Jose Earthquakes? That name sounds familiar and unnecessarily dramatic,” you’d be right to do so. They are the Major League Soccer team who famously signed Norwich City legend Darren Huckerby for the final 28 games and nine goals of his career, when he arguably should have still been on City’s roster.)
July 12, 2011
As 40,000 scarf-waving, song-singing Canary fans lined the unusually sun-kissed streets of Norwich for their promotion parade, there were many questions being fired at the trophy touting heroes. The question news reporters most commonly asked of the Championship runners-up was if their achievement had sunk in.
"When the fixture list comes out; that's when it'll hit home," was Adam Drury's overwhelmed response as he rejoiced amidst the most glamorous second place celebrations on East Anglian record.
Now that the May 7th season climax feels a distant memory, there are new questions being asked. We already know that Norwich will begin their season away to skin-of-their-teeth Wigan. What we don't know is which strike partnership will Paul Lambert select to attempt the continuation of his astonishing run of 169 goals in 89 games since he joined, then bottom of League One, Norwich?