Build a band of brothers at the Canaries
David Cuffley Manager Glenn Roeder can overcome the financial obstacles facing Norwich City to mount a promotion challenge next season - but will need to generate team spirit second to none.
Manager Glenn Roeder can overcome the financial obstacles facing Norwich City to mount a promotion challenge next season - but will need to generate team spirit second to none.
That's the view of double promotion winner John Deehan, who believes the club's comparative isolation in Norfolk can be turned to advantage by Roeder in bringing his squad closer together.
Deehan experienced the highs and lows of life with City after helping them into the top flight in 1982 and 1986 and coaching them during their UEFA Cup era, but also suffering relegation as a player, and managing the club for most of the troubled 1994-95 campaign that ended in their shock exit from the Premiership.
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The former striker, back at Carrow Road for Sunday's Greatest Ever event, admitted that promotion was a much tougher proposition now than in his heyday.
“It's different because you need financial clout. There's no doubt about that,” said Deehan. “Norwich are competing against teams that are coming down from the Premiership that will be getting more than £20m in parachute payments to try to get back up and they're competing against teams that are getting their second year of parachutes, people like Sheffield United that will be getting another £11m.
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“So it's an uneven playing field for Norwich initially, but despite what the other teams have got in financial packages it can't give them what Norwich have got naturally, which is geographical position, which means that players must live here and that gives a strong bond.”
Deehan said that bond had been a common factor in all City's successful teams.
He said: “I think today when we listened to all the former players coming up, they all talked about the spirit they had in the team, the camaraderie there was between every individual player and I think Glenn Roeder's got to try and have that as his main axis of what he can try and get promotion with next year - the bond of the team, the spirit in the camp.
“He needs to try to nourish it, make it grow, whether it's days out at the races together or taking your wives out for a meal together. That's one of the things that comes very naturally for Norwich and I'm hoping they can challenge on that front alone.”
Deehan, 50, remembers facing Roeder during his playing days.
“I did play against Glenn on a few occasions. He was always a hard character to come up against. But our playing careers are over. He'll be looking now at the season ahead for Norwich and he's got to hold a vision in his hands for how he can get the club out of this league.
“I wish Glenn every success and I'd love to be in his position to try to go and get promotion this time round.”
Deehan, who lives in Northampton, where he spent three years as director if football, said Norwich had proved in 2004 that it was possible to get into the Premier League. Staying there is more difficult.
He said: “I think as football develops and evolves, you learn and you look at the structures that are being put in place by other clubs on how to get out of the league and how to stay in the league above and I'm sure there must be some sort of system that can give you a level chance of doing it. At the moment Norwich have fallen a long, long way away from that.
“I was part of the fantastic era when we were in Europe and I was also part of the initial period when the club began to fall apart a little, but that's another story.
“At least there has been a solid base since Delia Smith came in and I think there's a warmth between the supporters and the players. That bond will naturally be there and as long as there is good guidance form the boardroom and financial assistance, this club will always have a good opportunity of getting itself out of the division it is in, very much the same as Ipswich.
“Ipswich last season challenged on a home form basis and that's what Norwich have to do next season and hope they can pick up enough results on the road.”
Deehan said he was delighted to be invited back for Sunday's event.
“It's been wonderful to be in the presence of such great players, the illustrious characters and names that I was sitting beside,” he said. “To be viewed among them and thought as their equal - although I didn't quite achieve getting in the team - was an honour.”