Has your perception of Norwich City altered? If not, it may do soon…

Here's a vintage - Arturo Lupoli and David Bell in Canaries action. Do you remember the perception b

Here's a vintage - Arturo Lupoli and David Bell in Canaries action. Do you remember the perception back then? - Credit: Archant © 2008

Perception has always been nine tenths of the law as far as Norwich City are concerned.

Remember the impotent feeling that enveloped the club as the 2008-09 season rumbled through, eventually seeing the infamous and relentlessly inevitable drop into English football’s third tier for the first time in 49 years.

When this season’s football makes your eyes feel a little heavier than when you started, it’s worth remembering that last line.

Then there was the idea that the high flying bubble of the early 1990s would burst with Mike Walker’s departure. And that Martin O’Neill’s walkout following his spat with Robert Chase would bring about a long-term malaise.

Not that it’s always bad. The momentum City carried in any one of the three seasons under Paul Lambert screamed ‘club reborn’, if also ‘unstable rise’.


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Which I guess leads us to the modern day perception of the Canaries 2012-13: a horrible team to play against, mostly. Cautious. Organised. Hard to beat. Scrappers.

Ultimately in a season when TV deals and new management teams meant finishing 17th was the only goal for Chris Hughton’s squad, the City boss delivered a side geared to achieve that very goal.

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An efficient unit that wins points, not plaudits.

And that’s a rather relentless ideal. After all, survival will always be the primary aim for a club of City’s size in the top flight.

It’s a hard thought to shake off as another season approaches – although allow me to acknowledge the fact this season’s job is still about five points from being done.

Would the desire to be tight with the finances – relative to the rest of the Premier League at least – mean Norwich relying on the same principals since they returned to the Premier League? A situation that clearly would have a shelf life, as some of the fallen Championship giants enjoy the better side of their cycles.

But last week the perception shifted – I expect a few season ticket renewals ahead of 2013-14 were shifted too.

The agreed deal for Sporting Lisbon striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel is most definitely something to get excited about – a record deal to bring in a player with true pedigree.

The situation requires a bit of honesty too. Van Wolfswinkel’s move is based on City being a Premier League club and his desire to play in the English top flight – but that can be said of anyone brought in by Hughton or Paul Lambert since May 2, 2011.

It is also impossible to say whether any transfer will work out beforehand. Fitness, injury, relocating, fitting in with the dressing room, adapting to a new culture – football and society.

What you can do is everything in your power to ensure the odds are stacked in your favour. So bringing in a 24-year-old Dutch international in a cut-price deal not only sounds superb business, it also alters the entire perception of what City 2013-14 will look like.

And while Premier League survival will be aim one, maybe this time it can be achieved in a progressive way – with a few additional goals for Hughton to get stuck into.

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