Norwich City dream start is way beyond all expectations

Now that we’re almost a quarter of the way into the 2010-11 campaign and with City having a weekend off, time for an early season report.

Not difficult to compile though really, is it? Because the Canaries have been little short of incredible over the course of their 10 league games so far.

Third from top is something that even the most optimistic of Norwich fans wouldn’t have dared dream about before the season began if they were being honest, and you still have to pinch yourself when you look at the league table to make sure that you aren’t being fooled by wishful thinking.

It’s been a dream start.

As City boss Paul Lambert has rightly continued to highlight though after each of his team’s successes this term, nothing has been achieved yet, and there is, of course, still a very, very long way to go.


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Anything can happen between now and next May. A week is indeed a long time in football, let alone the next eight months, and you never can tell what might be lurking just around the corner.

And it would be wise to note that the fixture list over the next six weeks or so appears to be – at least on paper – a much stiffer test than has these opening eight weeks. With all due respects, the likes of QPR, Cardiff, Burnley, Millwall, Reading, Leeds and Ipswich are likely to pose City a few more problems than has been the case when they have faced some of their early season opponents.

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But by the same token it’s also worth emphasising the point that you can only beat what is put in front of you. We’ll see how City cope with some of the teams that are expected to be battling it out at the top end of the table come next spring in due course, but for now each and every proverbial pat on the back that Norwich have received to date has undoubtedly been well deserved.

The team looks well organised, disciplined and possesses a nice structure to it, and unsurprisingly the players seem to have a spring in their step at the moment on a matchday.

From an attacking perspective City look capable of scoring goals, whilst at the back they have more than enough about them to prevent them being conceded.

One of the things that will have arguably impressed supporters most of all this season is the manner in which the team has attacked and defended as a unit. Things like Adam Drury scoring against Leicester – and also having come close on another couple of occasions in the same game! – and Wes Hoolahan repeatedly tracking back to help out defensively and then winning the ball on the edge of his own penalty area immediately spring to mind on that front.

Goals are being shared around the team, and that is a priceless commodity in football.

Take one look at the sidelines on a matchday and it reveals that there is also a healthy competition for places in the starting XI.

Whilst obviously not being afforded the same numbers that some of the squads of the top teams in the country can boast, there is nevertheless a reasonable strength in depth in the City squad, with several experienced players fighting to catch the manager’s eye and force their way into his team, as opposed to what has been evident in seasons gone by of it only being the odd one or two.

The Championship is an open division where consistency is key, – a fact confirmed by several results already this term in which totally unfancied teams have upset the apple cart and taken points off teams that have been riding high – and if a team can maintain a reasonable level of consistency in their performances history has proven that it usually means they’ll have a better chance of achieving success than if they simply blow hot one week but then cold the next.

And City have been impressively consistent so far this season. No two ways about it.

The words, “could do better”, on an early progress report have dented the aspirations of so many.

There has to be a slight amendment in this case though.

Because, “couldn’t really do any better”, is the only thing that can be said about City’s Championship journey so far.

 

• PRACTICE HAD A TOUCH OF COLNEY CLASS

 

England’s U-21 team recorded a 2-1 victory over Romania in front of a packed house at Carrow Road on Friday night in the first leg of their crucial European Championship play-off clash, and as part of their preparations they spent two days training up at Colney.

You can imagine that our youth team players were certainly looking forward to having the chance to watch how some of the best young players in the country went about their business on the training ground, but they got much better than that when they learned that they would actually be playing against Stuart Pearce’s side in a short practice match.

It goes without saying that it was a great experience for our youngsters and one from which I’m sure they will have benefited enormously, as it’s one thing practising alongside your fellow team-mates every day, but very much another when you’re about to tackle someone who you only recently watched playing in the Champions League.

And it was also an enjoyable experience for me too.

Because it was about the first and only time that I have ever been within close proximity to Stuart Pearce without having to worry that he was about to kick me into oblivion!

 

• CROFTS TICKS ALL BOXES FOR WALES

 

It’s been a bit of a mystery why Andrew Crofts hasn’t been selected on a regular basis for international duty already this season, because if there are 23 Welsh players who have produced better form than the Canary midfield anchorman this term then I’m, well... a Welshman!

But his call-up to the Wales squad to face Bulgaria and Switzerland is certainly merited given the terrific performances he has produced since signing for City in the summer.

Crofts ticks all the boxes that you could hope to see in someone playing in midfield. He can run all day long, he can pass, he reads the game well, he’s good in the air, his positioning is excellent, he chips in with a few goals and, given the ferocity with the way in which he tackles, it’s a safe bet to assume that he would kick his own granny if it meant winning the ball. Wes Hoolahan is another City player who deserves the call from his country. If the Republic of Ireland continue to overlook him, their loss is our gain.

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