The dark art required for Norwich City to establish themselves in the Premier League
Let’s get one thing clear from the outset: few things are actually ‘established’ in the Premier League – and if they are, you rarely need to use the word. No points awarded here for suggesting Manchester United are an established top-flight side.
So while I can see why the word is used across the league to produce visions of the future, the reality of whether a club is ‘established’ is nothing more than a judgement call that can unravel in a matter of months.
Effectively, Norwich City could already call themselves an established Premier League side if they wanted. They have been around the block once – which should mean a second stab in a row for Panini sticker collectors, only I think it’s more of a card-trading game these days.
And there is tangible proof on the pitch too.
No naive mistakes brought on by the horror of top-flight refereeing. We are now well versed as Marks Clattenburg and Halsey go about their usual business – even if it’s still hard to take sometimes.
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The Fulham horror show was an obvious false start, with the conceded penalties more subtle than the defensive errors that kicked off City’s top-flight return 12 months ago.
In many ways, that was the most reassuring sight from White Hart Lane on Saturday – seeing the Canaries match what they did in Easter, rather than the youthful exuberance of this time last season. It showed just how far City have come – albeit still with a few questions over where it goes.
- 1 Farke reveals Buendia concerns and fitness updates on Pukki and Krul after 2-1 Cardiff win
- 2 City's Giannoulis move enters the end game
- 3 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Cardiff City
- 4 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 2-1 Cardiff win
- 5 No Pukki no problem for Canaries as they move seven points clear at the top
- 6 'As good as I've seen him!' - City fans laud Cantwell performance
- 7 STARTING XIs: Pukki missing for City as Barden starts at Cardiff
- 8 Paddy Davitt verdict: Relentless City operating on a different level
- 9 MATCHDAY LIVE: Norwich City complete their double over Cardiff
- 10 City edging closer to deal for Giannoulis
Swap that for Southampton, whose 3-2 defeat at home to United was as predictable as they come – especially as Saints led 2-1.
West Ham may just about avoid such naivety given the man they have in charge and their rather recent top-flight experience. But both Saints and Reading will have learning to do – and like City and Swansea last season, will have to do it quickly.
Southampton have spent a huge amount of money and may well be too volatile behind the scenes to follow last season’s survival model. Nigel Adkins is and will be a man under pressure.
Whereas, it still surprises me how much money Norwich spent this summer: a good amount on players starting to prove they are worth the investment.
So much so, they are almost establishing themselves.