Fleming - Norwich City are on the road to success
Norwich City could threaten another club record if they maintain their remarkable away form under Paul Lambert.
The Canaries’ 2-1 victory at Sheffield United on Saturday left them with the best away record in the Championship so far this season.
Six wins and five draws from 13 matches add up to a haul of 23 points on the road, two more than leaders Queens Park Rangers and sixth-placed Leeds on their travels.
City chalked up 12 away wins – a new club record – in winning the League One title last season.
But their best total in the top two divisions is 10 away victories in winning the Nationwide League Division One title under Nigel Worthington in 2003-04.
Former City defender Craig Fleming, voted player of the season in that campaign, has been mightily impressed with how his old club have taken to life in the Championship, sitting third in the table with 19 games to go.
“It’s an absolutely incredible achievement to be where they are – really outstanding having just come up,” he said.
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City’s current form has sparked hope of a second successive promotion, or at least the one-in-four chance of going up through the play-offs.
“If they continue like they are, they’ve got a heck of a chance,” said Fleming.
“There is a long way to go and Paul will be stressing that.
“But looking at the results, they speak for themselves. They’re going to difficult places and winning games.
“When you’re near the top of the table you have the confidence to go away from home looking to win games, but if you’re near the bottom you’re going away looking not to get beaten. It’s a totally different mindset.”
Worthington’s team had some spectacular successes on opposing grounds, including a 4-0 win at Derby and a 5-3 victory at Burnley, but it was not all-out assault.
“When we won the league we knew we had to be patient away from home,” said Fleming, now a key member of Lowestoft Town’s management team.
“It’s all the old clich�s, really, but you need a good start. If you do well for the first 15 or 20 minutes and quieten the home crowd, home advantage can turn into a disadvantage.
“Then we knew more often than not we had goals in us with people like Huckerby, Crouch, Svensson, McKenzie, McVeigh and Francis – we had people on the pitch who could score and even if we did concede a goal there was not the same pressure on us.”
In that 2003-04 campaign, City took 37 points from 23 away games, winning 10 and drawing seven.
In seasons where they played just 21 away matches, their best tally was 32 points – from nine wins and five draws in the former Division Two in 1985-86, and eight wins and eight draws in the FA Premiership in 1993-94.
City have suffered only two Championship defeats away from home this season, at Doncaster and Cardiff.
That formidable run on the road will be tested next at Selhurst Park, where City have not beaten Crystal Palace since 1996.
But Lambert’s side has already shown past history to be just that, securing their first victory at Bristol City for 30 years and only their fourth win at Coventry in 53 visits.