Iwan Roberts: The day Bruce Rioch brought in Big Duncan and his latte to keep us on our toes!

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:09 03 August 2018

Pre-season training at the UEA Sports Ground - Iwan Roberts is second from right Picture: Archant

Pre-season training at the UEA Sports Ground - Iwan Roberts is second from right Picture: Archant

The World Cup has been and gone – and what a World Cup it was, I hasten to add!

Iwan Roberts and team-mates warming up
 Picture: ArchantIwan Roberts and team-mates warming up Picture: Archant

The World Cup has been and gone – and what a World Cup it was, I hasten to add!

And here we are, in no time at all, on the eve of yet another Championship season which has got many Norwich supporters full of excitement and anticipation to what lies ahead in the next 10 months.

All the hard work has been done in the last six weeks by the players, both physically and mentally, to get them 100pc ready for the gruelling season that lies ahead, and, as the old saying goes, “it’s a marathon not a sprint”. Mind you, it’s always nice to get off to a flying start and hopefully the team can do exactly that at St Andrew’s on Saturday afternoon.

I’ve said many times that I don’t miss pre-season training one bit since I finished playing (no ex-professional does) and I’ve every sympathy for the players having to be put through their paces in this summer’s heatwave – it must have been unbearable.

One of the hardest pre-seasons I’ve ever done was my second at Norwich when Bruce Rioch was manager. If I’m honest I needed it as my fitness results on the first day back weren’t what they should have been and I was behind most of the other lads.

Bruce didn’t believe in the sports science side of the game, which had just been introduced to Norwich. He knew how to get players fit and his way was solid no-messing-about, hard graft – it was that simple.

He didn’t need players to wear heart monitors so he could tell how hard they were or weren’t working – he could tell by looking at them. I remember one run in particular at Earlham Park that has to be up there with one of the hardest pre-season sessions I’ve ever done.

There’s a little cafe at Earlham Park and there is a steep slope from the top where the cafe is to the bottom where the river is – it must be 250 to 300 metres long. We all arrived at the bottom of the slope only to see big Duncan Forbes sitting at the top drinking a nice latte and we all wondered what on earth he was doing there. The answer was simple: Bruce had asked him to come along and help make sure that all the players were giving it their all.

It was horrendous and it seemed as if we were sprinting up that hill and jogging down for hours and every time we’d reached the bottom Bruce would tell us to go again.

All we could hear was Forbsy’s booming voice at the top of it screaming at us to “put it in” and telling certain people “to make sure they didn’t finish last next time”!

However hard pre-season is you get through it and you feel invincible, you can’t wait for that first game of the season as you know it’s over with for another 12 months – but in all honesty the hard work is just beginning.

It’s Daniel Farke’s third transfer window and in my opinion it’s by far his best.

Yes ,the club have sold two of their most influential attacking players, which was always going to happen. However, this squad have probably got much more strength in depth with the additions that have been bought and I think that’s why fans are so excited.

For me, two signings stand out – the first is Tim Krul, who, before he suffered a shocking knee injury three years ago whilst he was with Newcastle, was right up there with the best keepers in the Premier League and was the Dutch number one. Sadly he hasn’t played to much since then. If he can get back to anything like his best he’s going to be a big firm favourite with the Norwich faithful.

The second signing that stands out for me is Jordan Rhodes, who’s signed on loan from Sheffield Wednesday. For one reason or another Jordan has found it difficult at his last two clubs, but make no mistake, this is a man who knows where the back of the goal is and his statistics of 193 goals in 395 tell you exactly that.

For a few good years I was Huddersfield Town’s post-war record goalscorer for a season after banging in 34 goals back in the 91-92 season. That record lasted 20 years – until a certain Jordan Rhodes smashed 40 (yes 40) goals in 45 games in the 2011-12 season.

I’ve a feeling that Jordan’s record will last for a bit longer than 20 years.

Finally, I’d like to finish off by wishing everyone at Norwich City all the very best for this upcoming season – hopefully it will be a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Norfolk's trusted business finder

Most Read