Michael Bailey: There’s nothing Hull can tell Norwich City about attempting a Premier League return
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As a victorious Cameron Jerome trudged home from Madejski Stadium a fortnight ago, he left one sentiment – if only the next game was tomorrow.
Norwich City’s Championship momentum in September may have slipped the attentions of most outside Norfolk, but the chance to maximise its longevity was all anyone wanted amid the celebrations at Reading.
Two weeks off and an international break wouldn’t be on most people’s list of things to help make that happen.
City’s super September was one thing. Proving it’s worth more than their last super September just 12 months ago is the big challenge from here.
And in truth, there were enough pointers last month to suggest City’s upturn in fortunes had strong enough foundations to withstand a fortnight’s respite.
That all moves things on nicely to the side that visits Carrow Road next. All clubs love to declare that someone is going to get a hiding one day, and Hull duly delivered theirs last time out – a 6-1 smashing of Birmingham on Humberside that could as easily say as much about the Blues’ current plight, as what the club relegated from the Premier League last season has been struggling with this term.
It’s been a tricky Championship return for a side without an away win in 14 months, yet the Tigers’ issues run far deeper. When a supporters’ boycott extends to a noticeable number of empty seats at Wembley for a second tier play-off final, you know the problems are significant.
I’m not going to get stuck into football ownership here. Suffice to say there are enough good and bad examples, pros and cons to each direction a club wants to take.
But Hull fans have had it tough – and the unrest still appears a long way from easing. Meanwhile, as for what’s been said around the club, here are some choice cuts from midfielder David Meyler.
“Against Birmingham we hit the standards we want and need to be hitting. The fifth goal was probably one of the best you’ll see in the Championship. If it was in the Premier League, it’d be goal of the month or the year. That’s the players and the talent we have but it needs to be every week.
“We’ve been there, we’ve done it. Allan McGregor has a promotion, Michael Dawson has a promotion, I have two. Fraizer Campbell has a promotion, Seb Larsson has 90 caps for Sweden and 280 games in the Premier League.
“We’ve got players who have played high-end football for a long time but we need to show the young fellas the way.”
Sound familiar? There’s nothing Meyler can teach Norwich City about the pitfalls of fighting for an immediate Premier League return. Hull’s struggles define a division this season that looks as open as any, and certainly more than the last. Fellow relegatees Middlesbrough are in danger of suffering a similar slump to City last term, under the weight of huge expenditure – plus high expectations that can fester only a sense of entitlement.
And the less said about Sunderland the better, given where their only win so far came.
On the flip side, with a quarter of the season gone I find myself looking at Leeds, Wolves and Aston Villa thinking they all have it within to go close to promotion.
All three have their own questions to answer too, in terms of keeping pace and remaining consistent. But then, everyone expects that trio to be at the forefront of the promotion picture – they will bring no surprises.
As I’ve already mentioned, while City got themselves back on track last month not too many noticed. The clean sheets were an after-thought, the points little more than an upturn in form for a side nowhere near the top six.
So step forward October when Hull visit, when Ipswich await, when Arsenal will test, and when Derby and Wolves will prove that just another month under the Canaries’ belts could foster a very different attitude towards Daniel Farke’s squad – if they can succeed in showing their momentum is more than a one-month trick.
• It was a rare and rather lovely chance to pop across to King’s Lynn on Monday – when the Linnets confirmed they’ve gone big, and they hope they won’t now go home.
It can be easy to be cynical over such moves but speaking to Grant Holt and Simon Lappin, it was clear how much they were looking forward to getting back playing.
Plus more than 1,000 supporters in at The Walks on Tuesday reminded everyone of the potential at the club.
Signings can inspire promotion. It’s happened here, there and everywhere. And if Lynn can do that, there will be a lot of Canaries fans – as well as Linnets – more than happy to see it.