Iwan Roberts: Let’s crack on with the season (and my predictions too!)
It’s been an exciting few weeks for us all, with all the talk of Premier League football returning to Norwich City!
And, here we are as the new season begins on Friday night and the Canaries kick it off with a nice little trip to Anfield.
All the hard work has been done and the lads will now be champing at the bit to have a proper crack at proving themselves against the elite that English football has to offer. And in my opinion they really have nothing to be afraid of, nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Pre-season nowadays is slightly different to what it was in my day - now the players come back and they are more or less 100pc fit after carrying out their summer fitness programmes to the tee and it really is a case of just fine-tuning things for them as they are more or less ready for the off.
Back in my day we'd use the first week of pre-season (well, I used to) to lose a bit of excess - well, quite a lot of weight I'd somehow managed to put on in eight weeks' holidays we used to have. We wouldn't see a football for the first 10 days or so and if we did there would be some kind of disguised running exercise involved.
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I don't know one player who likes pre-season. There are days when you wake up and everything hurts, you turn up for training for another physical running session and you wonder just how you're going to get through it. But somehow after a good warm-up some of that stiffness eases and you get another session under your belt and for a few hours you feel invincible and could take on the world... until you wake up that following morning and just about can't get out of bed.
It's been a busy few weeks for Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke, with quite a few new faces coming into help the crew that are already here to face what will be a tough season.
- 1 City's Giannoulis move enters the end game
- 2 Farke reveals Buendia concerns and fitness updates on Pukki and Krul after 2-1 Cardiff win
- 3 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 2-1 Cardiff win
- 4 Paddy Davitt verdict: Relentless City operating on a different level
- 5 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Cardiff City
- 6 'My journey has been life-changing' - Cantwell reflects on three years since his City debut
- 7 Hugill stepped up when Norwich City needed him with determined display at Cardiff
- 8 'We need to pull our weight' - City skipper relieved to end his goal drought
- 9 Watch extended highlights of Norwich City's win at Cardiff
- 10 'As good as I've seen him!' - City fans laud Cantwell performance
However, once again you have to be impressed by the way they've both gone about bringing in their transfer targets.
They have stuck to their beliefs and the philosophy of working hard and using their knowledge of other leagues around Europe to bring in players who haven't cost a king's ransom and who won't put the club's future in jeopardy with silly transfer fees and wages being paid.
It doesn't always work just to go out and break the bank to bring players in who only come for one reason and one reason only, a financial one. Just look at Fulham last season - they spent in the region of £100m and ended up back in the Championship.
Another thing I've been very impressed with in these last few weeks is the way the club have rewarded the players who got them back into the Premier League after a wonderful season that saw them crowned champions. They are such a close squad of players with a great togetherness, which can take you a long way.
And that to the quality that this Norwich squad has and it means they have a real chance of staying up this season.
They face the second best team in the Premier League to open against and while it will be a very tough test it's not inconceivable that the lads can go up to Anfield and get a result.
Every new season there are some very strange results on the opening weekend and I'd much rather play Liverpool in our first game when their flow and confidence isn't what it will be after, say, seven to 10 games.
Norwich will finish 15th which will be a great season. Last season they were the fittest team in The Championship and they will have to be even fitter for this season, which they will be. I look at Wolves last season and the success they had and i think Norwich play a similar style. I'm not saying Norwich are going to finish seventh, but they won't be in the bottom three.
My champions will once again be Manchester City. It's once again going to be a two-horse race between them and Liverpool but for me the Premier League will once again be heading to The Etihad.
My three to go down in no particular order will be Sheffield United, even though Chris Wilder was the best manager in the Championship last season! Brighton just got out of jail last season but I can't see Graham Potter keeping them up this season. My third team for relegation will be Newcastle. It has been a shocking summer for the Magpies:they've lost Rafa Benitez and they've lost their two top goal scorers from last season, Ayoze Perez and Solomon Rondon - and have not replaced them. I get the feeling Steve Bruce has got a mammoth task to keep them up.