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 linked with Bundesliga vacancy
- 2 'That's the bottom line' - Dowell clear on his City priorities
- 3 Iwan Roberts: My one regret over Canaries' 2004 promotion
- 4 Can City seal just their third Carrow Road promotion?
- 5 Another goal for Drmic - could City striker earn Euros recall?
- 6 Ian Clarke: Seven reasons why Norwich City will survive in top flight
- 7 'We want to correct what happened' - City ace on top-flight aims
- 8 Connor Southwell: Why Emi Buendia must be crowned City's Player of the Season
- 9 Transfer rumour: Everton unsure about price tag for City star
- 10 Paddy Davitt: 'Little old Norwich' tag is a poor fit
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.