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.

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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.

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