Iwan Roberts is backing Norwich City
Paddy Davitt Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts has ruled out divided loyalties when two of his former clubs clash in Friday's Championship opener at Carrow Road. Roberts was given his big break in the professional ranks at Watford before becoming a cult figure in a seven-year spell at City.
Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts has ruled out divided loyalties when two of his former clubs clash in Friday's Championship opener at Carrow Road.
Roberts was given his big break in the professional ranks at Watford before becoming a cult figure in a seven-year spell at City. The Welshman insists his club allegiances still reside in Norfolk - despite the presence of good friend Malky Mackay in the away dug out for the Hornets.
“Watford is a club close to my heart because it is where I started my career but after seven years at Norwich there is only one place that I want the three points to go,” he said.
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“Obviously Malky is a good friend and always will be and he has done a great job at the club but hopefully Watford's season will kick off after Friday night.
“He has had little or no funds to spend and had to beg or borrow players and it will be the same again this year. He knows it is a really tough start. Paul Lambert has made some really good signings to build on the squad he already had. Maybe he is just thinking it might be a good time to play them in the first game of the season when players might be still a little bit cold. You get some strange results, as Norwich know from last season, and he might be hoping to go away with at least a point.”
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Roberts has given his seal of approval to Lambert's summer transfer business.
“He's made some really good signings,” he said. “(Andrew) Surman is a very good player, Elliott (Ward) a good centre half at this level and the lad (Andrew) Crofts I know well from my Gillingham days and he will give you that bite in midfield. What has also been good is that he got them in for the first week of pre-season so they have a chance to gel with the other players and get to know them and the area and basically let them settle in - not just to the football club but Norfolk life.
“It's a tough league but with the momentum they have got, the squad and the players they have added, I see no reason they can not kick on again.
“I don't think there is one outstanding team like Newcastle last season. Middlesbrough would probably shade it with the players that Gordon Strachan has brought in. Burnley have maybe had to sell too many players, Hull I'm not too sure about, Portsmouth, who knows, and Bristol City are trying to spend a few quid so I think it is there for anyone who wants to grab it with both hands and can put a run together.”
Roberts insists riding last season's League One success can be a tangible factor in Norwich's favour.
“Momentum is a massive thing in football and Norwich have it,” he said.
“The way last season went after two or three poor ones they are now used to winning games and it becomes a habit, just like losing.
“Leicester showed last year what is possible with not too many household names and not the strongest squad and they just missed out in the play-offs to Cardiff.
“There is nothing to be fearful of and teams will go to Carrow Road knowing it has been a fortress. I was at Wembley last year with Cardiff and it's an unbelievable stadium and having played a couple of times at the old Wembley for Leicester in the play-offs I've always said it's the best way to win promotion.
“Everyone associated with the club gets a special day out but let's hope they don't need that and can challenge for the top two.”