David Hannant: My two quid is on Norwich City winning the Premier League ... honest

Emi Buendia - made for Premier League football Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Emi Buendia - made for Premier League football Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

So much has been said over the long, boring summer about gambling in sport, sponsorship deals and the like. Too much, some might say.

City's latest sponsorship deal, with gambling firm Dafabet, has proved somewhat controversial and, while I can definitely see why people have their concerns, I've also found the arguments people have about it to be a tiny bit on the tedious side.

Perhaps at this point then, you are querying why I'm kicking off my first column of the season by talking about... a bet.

Of course, I should point out that I absolutely understand the dangers posed by the gambling industry, believe rigorous support systems need to be in place for those who suffer because of it - some already are - and believe the industry needs more regulation.

But with that in mind, I have dipped into my far from deep pocket and placed a £2 bet on the 2019/20 Premier League title being won by Norwich City.

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Obviously this is more than just a little far-fetched - it's probably on par with the likelihood of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson being cast to play me in the biopic of my life, EDP head of sport Chris Lakey hopping on one leg to the moon or Ipswich picking up an early-season away win at London Road - but nonetheless, I parted with £2 at 2,500/1.

So why exactly have I done the financial equivalent of throwing a gold nugget down the drain or buying a lottery ticket?

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Because that is what this current crop of players has done to me - it's like the spark of 'what ifs'. What if?

A year ago, my father (so he says) decided the idea of Teemu Pukki winning the golden boot was worth a flutter.

Conveniently, he waited until about halfway through the season to tell me he had this thought, but I'll take his word for it - as he reminds me on a weekly basis of his regret. It was 125/1 and he said he almost asked his bookie (me) to place a fiver on it for him. So it would've made him £630. Not that I'd have parted with the winnings.

So what if this crop of players, who specialise in doing the unexpected, actually do it?

Now to momentarily hop off of my train of delusional thought, clearly, I have lost £2.

But, one thing I will say with the utmost confidence - Norwich City are not relegation fodder.

This team has instilled enough belief in me as a fan to make a silly bet, which 99.9pc of me believes is just that, silly.

However, the very fact that 0.1pc sees it as a frugal investment says all you need to know about my faith in this current squad.

Of course I recognise the season will not be easy, that City face the winners of the Champions League, Europa League and Premier League within the first month of the season proves that.

But such is my positivity at the moment, I don't even see "staying up" as being the sole mission objective for the season. And neither, do I believe, do Stuart Webber or Daniel Farke.

The summer's business of handing out improved deals shows what faith there is in the squad and how comfortable the top brass is with what they have built.

The other thing that makes me believe this season will be so much more than just avoiding relegation is what I have seen of Daniel Farke whenever he has come up against a big name.

Even in his unremarkable maiden season, he pushed Arsenal and Chelsea to their very limits in cup competitions.

I believe the playing style he has established genuinely suits itself better to the Premier League than the Championship.

It obviously goes without saying that the opposition will be better, so there will be less room for mistakes - even the so-called lesser teams will punish them.

However, whenever City encountered similar 'footballing' teams last season, it played into their hands far better than the tougher, more agricultural teams.

Players like Emi Buendia, Max Aarons and Mo Leitner were made to play in the Premier League - I can't wait to see them do that.

So in answer to the question I have mischievously posed in the headline to this piece, why have I bet on Norwich to win the league?

In a nutshell, for a laugh really. But that said, just imagine what it will add to the sheer elation if it actually somehow happens!


Where will City finish? 12th

Who will win the title? Manchester City

Which three teams will get relegated? Brighton, Villa and Newcastle

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