Fox hopes for chance to shine in Premier League with Norwich City
David Fox admits to having fallen in love with Carrow Road – but the Norwich City midfielder is not taking a place in their Premier League line-up for granted.
The one-time Manchester United reserve team captain had to wait until November for a regular place in Paul Lambert’s side after being reunited with his former Colchester boss last summer.
But he more than made up for lost time, scoring in the 1-1 draw at Millwall and starting all but three of the remaining 30 Championship matches, two of which he missed through injury.
Like many of his team-mates who experienced life in the lower divisions, the 27-year-old Fox appreciates just what an opportunity promotion has presented him with, more than 10 years after signing his first professional contract at Old Trafford.
City fans will be keen to see if the Premier League environment will suit Fox’s style of play, as a precise passer of the ball with a steely streak that has provided the back four with vital protection over the last two thirds of the season.
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“I’m hoping so,” he said. “I’m going to have to hit the ground running next season and I’m going to have to work ever so hard in pre-season, even harder than I’ve done this year, to try to keep my place in the side because I’m sure there will be additions and I’m sure it will be a big step up for everyone. But it’s a massive opportunity for every single lad at the club so we’re going to go into it next season and give it everything we’ve got.”
Fox said he always believed he would get his chance under Lambert, and never felt he was on the fringe of things in the early weeks of the season.
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“I was always confident that I could get a run of games. I wasn’t in the team early on but I was always involved,” he said.
“The manager’s signed me twice, so he’s not going to think I’m a bad player overnight, so I always had confidence that I’d get in the side and always had belief in the manager. Even when I wasn’t playing, he was still giving me advice and helping me out and that’s the sort of thing you need from a manager.
“So I was confident I’d get a chance, but it was up to me to take it and to play as much as I have at the back end of the season, I’m delighted with that.
“When I was playing in Colchester’s reserves and Blackpool’s reserves, I was thinking playing in front of 25,000 every week was a long way away, so I’ve got to make the most of it and enjoy it while I can because there’s no better place to play your football than Carrow Road. I absolutely love playing here every week, packed out, booming, so I’m going to make the most of every opportunity I get.”
He said automatic promotion was “some achievement” – especially in back-to-back seasons – but only in the closing weeks did City realise just how good a chance they had.
“I’d say it was probably not until late on in the season, but I think the fact that we were so consistent, we were always going to be in with a shout,” he said.
“We never had a bad run throughout the season, we never lost back-to-back games. I think we just kept going and going and when we needed to at the end, we put a run together that has got us up, which we always knew we were capable of. Even after those defeats, we had so much confidence, after a bad result we knew we could go and put a performance in for the next week and that’s what we did.
“After a defeat, we’d normally bounce back with a win or a draw and then get another run going. You shrug off your defeats and move on to the next game and we’ve done that better than most this season. When we needed to, we put our foot down and absolutely demolished some of the sides in the run-in.
“Teams are struggling at this time of the season with the pressure but I think we’ve handled it better than anyone. We kind of thrive on that and we got four wins that have seen us over the line.
“It’s amazing when you have a bunch of boys who want to work for each other how far you can go.”
After spending his first five years as a professional at Old Trafford, without making a first-team appearance, Fox knows two games will leap out at him when the fixture list is published next month.
“It will be Manchester United away and at home, that goes without saying,” he said. “I think that will probably be when it hits home, when the fixture list comes out, what we’re up against. There will be no easy games and every game will be absolutely massive, so waiting for that fixture list – that will probably be when it sinks in.”