Cottee betting on Norwich City to lift Championship title

Former Norwich City striker and respected television pundit Tony Cottee has put his money where his mouth is by backing them to lift the Championship title.

Cottee, who made his home debut for City against this weekend’s opposition Crystal Palace in 2000, had a small wager before a ball was kicked in pre-season on Paul Lambert’s men emulating last year’s League One triumph.

The Sky Sports summariser revealed today he had seen nothing in the first half of the season to alter his view City can sustain their promotion push.

He said: “I put them in my accumulator last season and they never let me down. I always have a little fun bet, its not fortunes, that I do with my Dad and he lets me get on with it in terms of choosing the teams.

“I see a lot of the Championship through Sky and I looked at Cardiff, but at that stage the takeover hadn’t gone through and (Craig) Bellamy hadn’t gone there, so I looked at Norwich and just felt they have the quality going forward to put in a real challenge and we got something like 16/1.

“I like Grant Holt, Chris Martin and Wes Hoolahan as players and I felt they could all score goals in the Championship. So, no, I’m not surprised at how well they are doing. Whether they can actually win the Championship is a different question, but I’m pleased to see them doing well. It doesn’t matter how they do it if they can get into one of those three positions – but the boys need to know each way is no good for me.”

Cottee was one of the best finishers of his generation during a 19-year professional career and the ex-England striker is delighted to see City skipper Holt take the Championship in his stride.

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He said: “I have watched a lot of Norwich over the last three or four seasons for Sky and saw Grant in League One last season. When I look at a player I look to see if they can do the professional things. He can hold the ball up, has good movement, he’s good in the air and he’s a good finisher. If you’ve got those basics they will take you a long way in your career. He might not have played many games at that level before this season, but I always say you never know until you get a chance.

“Grant reminds me a lot of Dean Ashton. I see a lot of Dean in him and that is a big tribute because Dean was a legend in a short space of time at Norwich and when he came to West Ham he was a fantastic player as well. I believe he is capable of scoring goals in the Premier League and I would love to see him get that opportunity.”

Cottee is also convinced Paul Lambert can take City to the promised land after the Canaries’ hierarchy successful rebuffed Burnley’s recent public pursuit.

He said: “That would have been professional suicide to let your manager go to one of the other clubs in your division. If Paul is happy, which he appears to be, then why change your manager? Credit to the board at Norwich who dug their heels in and said you can’t have him. Why let the man go who has won them the title and got them challenging again and could take them to the Premier League.

“I’m very impressed with him. He is an excellent manager. I know he worked under Martin O’Neill, who I had for three years at Leicester, and if you take anything from Martin then you have half a chance as a manager. It’s a difficult league to get out of but the manager and the players deserve credit.”