Patience from Norwich City fans is vital – I know from personal experience!
- Credit: EDP © 1999
Here we are, on the eve of another season for Norwich City and if I’m totally honest I’m not too sure what to expect.
It has been a very busy summer at Carrow Road with plenty of new faces arriving and quite a few old ones going through the exit door which, in all fairness, needed to happen.
Stuart Webber wasted no time after the end of the season in announcing Daniel Farke as the club’s head coach, which gave him the whole of pre-season to get to know his players and for them to get to know him and what his expectations were. From afar it looks to have been a solid six weeks’ work for the lads and one thing is for sure, they will be fitter going into the start of this season than they were the last – they simply have to be if they are going to play the way the head coach wants them to.
Two words spring to my mind when I look at the start of this new season and a new chapter for the football club: “support” and, more importantly, “patience”.
I’ve no doubt that Farke and his players will get the support from Norwich fans. However, I do think if things don’t go to plan in the first few games supporters have to show patience because as we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day and sometimes you don’t always get off to a good start.
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I think it’s great to once again see a Gunn in between the posts for Norwich City and to capture Angus on loan for the season is a real coup – I know what a talent he is and that he had numerous options before deciding to come back home where his old man is such a hero and legend.
I used to get so nervous before the first game of the season, especially if I hadn’t scored as many goals as I would have liked in the pre-season friendlies. As a team you’re desperate to get off to a winning start after all the hard graft of pre-season, but personally I wanted to get off the mark with a goal as quickly as I could. Unfortunately for me, in my 19-year professional career I never managed that feat on the opening day of the season. In fact I couldn’t really go out full of confidence until I’d scored my first goal of the season.
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The longest run I had without scoring a goal at the start of the season was when I moved to Wolves for £1.25m (big money at the time!) when I didn’t find the back of the net for the first eight games. But because we were winning games and Stevie Bull was scoring enough for both of us the Wolves fans never once got on my back.
In my seven years at the club I had two shocking experiences on the opening day, ones that I’ve tried to erase from my memory – sadly to no avail.
The first was the opening day of the 1997-98 season at home to Wolves. It must have been 100 degrees that afternoon – as you all know, not the type of weather in which I thrived! I struggled from the very first minute and couldn’t wait for the ref to blow for full-time as I’d had a nightmare of a game. I remember after about 15 minutes someone shouting from the City stand, “do something, Roberts” and I thought to myself, ‘this is going to be a long season’ – I wasn’t wrong.
The second came down at the New Den – not the easiest of places to go at the best of times let alone the very start of the season when the home fans had turned up in their thousands full of expectation. Before that 2002-03 season we’d had a great pre-season under Nigel Worthington and we were so fit and so full of confidence going into that Millwall game. That confidence didn’t last long as we got hammered 4-0 and came home thinking, where do we go from here?
Looking back it was the kick up the backside we probably needed as we’d maybe got a bit above our stations after winning our pre-season friendlies comfortably. After the New Den debacle and a few choice words from Nigel we went unbeaten in our next seven games, winning six of them.
Tomorrow is as tough a test as you could get on the opening day, away at fancied Fulham, who will be determined to finish higher than the sixth place they finished last season.
The last time Norwich won at Craven Cottage I’d just signed as an apprentice at Watford so I don’t need to tell people it’s not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Canaries over the years. But tomorrow is a fresh start for Norwich City and you get some strange results on the opening day.
I’d like to wish Norwich City, Daniel Farke, his staff and his squad of players all the very best for the upcoming season.
I’ve been asked many times this summer where I think Norwich City will finish come the beginning of May.
A lot has happened in a short space of time, and it could potentially harm the club’s ambitions of promotion back into the Premier League.
With so many new faces at the club it’s going to take time for the new players to settle into their new surroundings and for the team to gel and establish some sort of an understanding.
I think automatic promotion is out of their reach and if the club finishes in a play-off position it will have been a very successful season for the Canaries.
Personally, I see the club finishing between seventh and 10th, which, taking everything into account, won’t be too bad a season and would give supporters a bit of hope going into the 2018-19 season.