Paddy’s Pointers: Norwich City in the Premier League. Oh Yes.
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Norwich City is big back in the big time. Paddy Davitt reflects on the release of the Premier League fixtures.
1. Deutschland derby
Those Premier League compilers have a sense of fun. Either that or Norwich City at Liverpool was a delicious quirk of the number-crunching that produced a glamour opening night fixture for the Canaries on August 9.
Where do you start? Jurgen Klopp taking on his compatriot Daniel Farke. A City squad featuring lads like Mario Vrancic and Moritz Leitner who were set on the path to the Premier League by Klopp earlier in their careers. While sporting director Stuart Webber is another who knows how the Reds work from his spell.
So many sub-plots before you even get to Norwich's trip to Anfield to take on the recently-crowned six time champions of Europe.
City will not fear what looks a daunting assignment under the lights on Merseyside. This is what all the toil and the hard work was about in the Championship. Return with any league points at all and Farke will be hailed as tactical genius.
Come up short but with enough evidence to suggest they can compete and the belief will be renewed. But Norwich's Premier League fate does not hinge on games against the super elite.
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- 4 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 0-0 draw against Wolves
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- 9 City reborn under Smith for Wolves boss
- 10 City chief Ward on investment, Carrow Road expansion and Webber's contract
2. Bumpy landing
Few outside of Norfolk are likely to give Norwich any chance of picking up a decent haul of points from their opening five Premier League games.
City will face the Champions League winners, the Europa League winners and the reigning league champions before mid-September.
Compare Norwich's first three games (Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea) with fellow new boys Sheffield United (Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leicester) and Aston Villa (Tottenham, Bournemouth, Everton). Farke's boys will certainly know what exactly what the Premier League is all about by the opening weeks.
But that might be no bad thing. Lose the sense of awe, the sense of stepping out with the superstars and get down to business. Quickly.
A new style mid-winter break in February, allied to inevitable switches to accommodate Europa League-bound league opponents and the whims of the television companies. Norwich's players and fans will have to adapt to the new reality and a new rhythm.
There will be numerous months with only three scheduled Premier League fixtures. Eight less league games should in theory allow Farke more time to underline why he is regarded one of the brightest coaching minds around.
That on going revamp to the training facilities at Colney should come into its own a lot quicker than the ability to develop top class academy talent.
The downside is the lulls between games when the inevitable testing spells and winless periods buffet the Canaries. All part of the learning curve off as well as on the park.
4. Old faces
James Maddison, Angus Gunn, Nathan Redmond, Ryan Bennett and John Ruddy. Just some of the former Norwich players who could stand in the Canaries' way.
The sight of the likes of Maddison, Bennett, Gunn and Ruddy in the stands watching their former club at various stages last season underlined the bonds remain. The trip to Leicester City on December 14 will be an especially fond reunion with Maddison.
The England hopeful was the one shining light of Farke's debut tour and his sale safeguarded the club's immediate financial future.
Life has been good for both parties since and unless that transfer speculation turns into anything more tangible around the attacking midfielder, that meeting in the East Midlands will be a signal how far both have come.
That online hoax on Tuesday suggesting Norwich would begin the Premier League season at Tottenham's newly revamped White Hart Lane proved well wide of the mark.
The Canaries must wait until January 22 next year before they get to sample Spurs' impressive new stadium. But it did underline City are now inhabiting a vastly different football environment to the Championship.
The Premier League is a global brand with worldwide exposure. Everything Farke and his players do, good and bad, will be scrutinised and analysed in minute detail.
There was a sense towards the end of last season perhaps Norwich's epic success deserved more acclaim. Chris Wilder carried off any number of managerial awards and the ascent of Aston Villa via the play-offs was another episode that peaked the interest of the national media.
Norwich's inner circle will not be perturbed if the club remain on the margins but this story deserves a wider audience.