Milk Cup winner sees similarities in promotion charges
Michael Bailey Former winger Mark Barham admits Norwich City's League One promotion charge reminds him of his own title success at Carrow Road. The Canaries' Milk Cup and two-time promotion winner was part of manager Ken Brown's side that secured the Division Two championship in 1985-86 and Barham feels history is repeating itself this season, albeit in a league lower.
Former winger Mark Barham admits Norwich City's League One promotion charge reminds him of his own title success at Carrow Road.
The Canaries' Milk Cup and two-time promotion winner was part of manager Ken Brown's side that secured the Division Two championship in 1985-86 and Barham feels history is repeating itself this season, albeit in a league lower.
“Very much so to the 1985-86 team,” said Barham, “We had gone down after the Milk Cup win and the team pretty much stayed together. Although we lost one or two players, we replaced them with players as good.
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“We only got beaten eight times that season and most were early on as well, and I think we went from strength to strength and, like this side, you go away to the top sides and you think how many are we going to win by today?
“It can work the other way, which we had last year where it was how many will we get beaten by? But I think the reverse in psychology this year, especially from some of the players we still have from then, has been magnificent.”
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And Barham, 47, believes that should Paul Lambert's league leaders finish the job over the remaining 10 games this season, he will already have a solid foundation for a return to Championship football.
“Definitely these are players of above the standard of football they are currently playing in,” said Barham.
“I have my eye on one or two where it will be interesting to see whether they are borderline but going into next season if we do make it, which we should, I would say that side with no extra people could hold their own quite easily in the Championship.
“That said, I'm not saying they would be above halfway and Paul will look at it at the end of the season and think 'Where do I need to strengthen?'”
Former England international Barham, who made 223 senior appearances for City over an eight-year period, scoring 25 goals, believes the signings made by former team-mate Bryan Gunn as manager in the summer have played their part with Lambert working his own magic on the squad he inherited in August after leaving Colchester.
Barham said: “From the poor start we had, since Mr Lambert has come in the club has gone forward completely. That's taking nothing away from Bryan, who I thought brought in four or five good players before he was relieved of his duties.
“Paul has made the most of them along with a few of the signings he's picked up and I think Norwich have shown, especially in the last three or four months, that come the last 15 to 20 minutes of games, other sides have got to take note because we are winning games from thereon in.
“It's got us to such a position that we can win games out of actually wearing teams down with the quality we have got.
“You've got to give Paul Lambert credit for that. Even when we have gone down to 10 men, he has played to win the game. And you've got to give the lads credit as well to back him and show the will to win to start with. It's got to such a stage I don't think they think they can get beaten.”
With City seven points clear of second-placed Leeds, as well as 12 points ahead of the play-off places, Barham believes promotion and the League One title is now City's to lose.
He said: “I'll be the first person to reiterate it's more imperative that we go up, but I believe they are the best side in the league and I don't see any reason why they would not want to win that league and I hope they do. I hope they continue to show what they've got, because they are a quality side.”
t Next week will see the 25th anniversary of Barham and the Canaries' Milk Cup win in 1985. Pick up your Evening News for our week-long reminisces of City's Wembley success.