Fleming wants tough start
CHRIS LAKEY Canaries club captain Craig Fleming believes the tough opening start to the season could act in City's favour. Just 12 months ago City were looking at three home games in a row to open their campaign, but the misguided optimism that produced, coupled with the huge anticipation in many quarters, backfired as City struggled to a ninth-place finish.
Canaries club captain Craig Fleming believes the tough opening start to the season could act in City's favour.
Just 12 months ago City were looking at three home games in a row to open their campaign, but the misguided optimism that produced, coupled with the huge anticipation in many quarters, backfired as City struggled to a ninth-place finish.
The importance of doing much better this season and finally living up to the expectations is paramount, with parachute payment soon to be a thing of the past as far as City are concerned. The Premiership is the only place to be - and a fitting one to celebrate Fleming's testimonial season.
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Fleming believes that, more than ever, the Championship place is as tough as it comes.
“I really think this is probably as tough as I have ever know it,” he said. “Apart from the three sides that came down, Leeds away on the first day is probably as tough a game as you can have.
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“Having said that, Leeds will be looking at us and thinking they could have got an easier start as well. They will probably still have the fact that they lost the play-off final in their minds and for us to go up there and get a good result could set us up. A good start is imperative.
“Last season, right from the word go, things didn't go right. Expectations were high, not just among the fans but us as well, to be honest. We all thought with three home games we'd get off to a flier, but it never happened.
“This year it is paramount that we hit the ground running. It's a difficult start, but you have to play these teams sometimes so why not straight away?”
“All I know for sure is that we need to get on a roll early and get some confidence back into us and build from there.”
Fleming has played against every club in the Championship during his career, but acknowledges that the game has changed a lot since he first stepped out on to a pitch as a professional with Halifax back in the early 90s.
“I think that the stronger the Premiership gets there is a similar knock-on effect down the leagues,” he said. “You look at the teams that have come down and the ones that have come up and you know they will be strong and difficult to play against.
“It is a tough league, as we always say, but this season is as tough as I can remember. In years gone by you could look and say that on paper this team or that would do well, but there are a lot of teams to be wary of now.”
While Fleming is confident that Norwich will be in the final shake-up, he knows where the main challenges will come from - Sunderland, Birmingham and West Brom.
“You have to look at the three teams that came down, they'll all be pretty strong,” he said. “There is always a surprise package too - like we were when we went to the play-off final - but I honestly can't pick one out.”