Sky pundit predicts progress but not promotion

Norwich City should forget about promotion according to one of the country's top Championship pundits.

Norwich City should forget about promotion according to one of the country's top Championship pundits.

Sky Sports Football League analyst Garry Birtles believes the Canaries must focus on improving on their 16th place finish last season before entertaining thoughts of a play-off place.

"They desperately need some stability there and that must be their first priority next season," said Birtles. "I think the turmoil they have gone through over the last few years has been a big problem for them.

"Norwich will just be looking to make progress next season. Peter Grant may say that he is looking at finishing in the automatic promotion places and undoubtedly that will be his aim. But behind the scenes he will just want to see an improvement on last season."

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Birtles, who was a European Cup winner twice with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980, believes there are other Championship sides with a lot more quality than City but pleaded with fans to give Grant time to get it right.

"Progress is what every manager strives for and as long as they improve he'll (Grant) take that. Peter Grant has got to be given a bit of time to get it right as he has had to bring in a lot of players over the summer.

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"Some of them could take their time to settle in and people must be patient enough to realise sometimes things take time to settle down.

"I can see a mid-table finish for Norwich and that will be progress for them."

Birtles, who won three caps for England, believes that in Jamie Cureton, Norwich have found a more than able replacement for the departed Robert Earnshaw.

"Jamie has scored goals wherever he's gone and he will definitely feel like he has a point to prove from last time.

"He did ever so well last season at Colchester and it will be interesting to see if he can carry that on with a bigger club. He is a natural goalscorer."

Birtles believes that Sheffield United and West Brom will be the teams to beat next season whilst also tipping Watford to bounce straight back after relegation from the Premiership last year.

"You have got to go with Sheffield United and West Brom," said the 51-year-old. "They will be very difficult to beat and Watford will fancy their chances bearing in mind Marlon King will be back for next season. He will be like a new player for them."

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