Newman impressed by Norwich City’s Premier League preparations
Ex-Norwich City star and current Manchester City scout Rob Newman believes his former club are preparing for the top flight in the right way.
Newman made 249 appearances during a nine-year spell at Carrow Road during the 1990s, including the inaugural seasons of the Premier League and some of Norwich’s greatest moments.
He also has first-hand experience of Bradley Johnson – expected to join the Canaries as a free agent from Leeds this summer – after helping bring the trainee midfielder through at Cambridge United during his time in the dugout at the Abbey Stadium.
And Newman, 47, believes Norwich’s current management team – including his old team-mate Ian Culverhouse – are doing things the right way.
“It’s a tough call because you can either go for the players Norwich are going for, those with good potential and you’re not sure how they are going to do in the Premier League – or you go for the journeyman, the elder statesman that’s been in the Premier League and played 100,000 games or whatever, and they might come and just see it out, which I don’t think is good for the future of the club,” said Newman.
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“You look at it and the worst scenario would be if Norwich were relegated – and all of a sudden they would have a squad that would immediately be installed as unbelievable favourites to go right back up again. But these boys have got talent, like James Vaughan who’s been around and played in the Premier League, Bradley who is a kid whose confident in his own ability, and Steve Morison who is an international player. So I think the way they’re doing it is the right way.
“Obviously it’s up to the powers that be, but looking at it from the outside I think they’ve bought very well for the future.”
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Johnson has reportedly undergone a medical at Norwich and is widely tipped to sign a three-year deal with the Premier League new boys.
It was Cambridge where the Londoner came through the ranks of a productive youth system – before United’s financial problems saw the 18-year-old move to Northampton Town in 2005, as he opted to maintain his Football League status.
Since then the combative midfielder has shone at Leeds – and could now be set for his first taste of the English top flight with Norwich.
“He was always a good player and it was a bitter blow for Cambridge because he went on and did well for them,” said Newman. “But he exercised his right and felt a move was always in his best interests and it’s turned out to be that.
“He has great ability, great left foot and he scores goals, is a very confident person and he has gone on from strength to strength.
“He always was a talent and they had quite a decent youth team at Cambridge then. But he was the best one in that group and it was just a shame he left before we had an opportunity to let him become a first team squad member.
“Sometimes he was overconfident, but I don’t think you’d want to take that away and I think he’s matured a lot. He came up from London and was there with people that could lead you stray, so he’s come on and carved out a decent career for himself.
“You look at the likes of Wes Hoolahan and David Fox, they’ve got real ability. But you need a squad of 18, 19, 20, and the beauty of it is Norwich are buying players at good ages.
“They have either tasted experience at the highest level or they have got ambition, and they are all hungry players that are keen to do well in the Premier League. So it bodes well for the club really, if you ask me.”
Newman, who still lives in Norfolk, was speaking from Copenhagen where the European Under-21 Championships are currently taking place – all part of the job for the scout of a top flight club.
“It’s a cracking job, a cracking club and whether you are in the first team or the tea lady, it’s a good place to be,” said Newman.
“I feel I’m privileged to do this job and I’m just picking up as much knowledge as possible.”
Newman has been keeping a close eye on his former old club too – and is delighted with the Canaries’ rapid return to English football’s elite.
“It’s great for the club and the city, and there will be some good games next year,” he said. “I think it’s better than in our day. The players in the Premier League now – and they are world class players in most teams – they will be coming to Carrow Road every other week.
“That will be fantastic for the supporters because they are second to none when it comes to supporting to the club.”