Welcome back to Carrow Road

After all the excitement at the end of the last season, and the triumph and exhilaration of winning not only promotion at the first attempt, but the League One title, and in such style too, many of you will have spent the summer waving your 'Campeones' flags, and overdosing on adrenalin, champagne, pints of Wherry, or even large doses of ecstasy (of the non chemical kind).

By HAMILTON NEMO

After all the excitement at the end of the last season, and the triumph and exhilaration of winning not only promotion at the first attempt, but the League One title, and in such style too, many of you will have spent the summer waving your “Campeones” flags, and overdosing on adrenalin, champagne, pints of Wherry, or even large doses of ecstasy (of the non chemical kind). You may even have hoped that the 2009-10 season could continue forever, in the same vein....

But back to reality. The curtain has come down on the final act of last season. The 2009-10 campaign is firmly in the past. By all means buy and enjoy the souvenirs (especially the book “League One Champions”, which has a picture of me on page 9. The photo was taken on the opening day of last season, so I look glum, but then so does everybody else, including the then manager and assistant manager, substitutes, and fellow spectators).

Now we have a new squad, new opponents, a new challenge, and we have to look forward not backwards. What matters now is the 2010-11 season which begins on 6 August and sees the Canaries back in the npower Championship. The bookies have installed us as one of the favourites to do well. The mood at Carrow Road is upbeat. Under Paul Lambert's guidance we hope and expect to build on last season's success and have another good season.


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Of course time does not stand still. Football clubs do not employ players on lifetime contracts. They operate a revolving door personnel policy. Players come and players go. Norwich is no exception to this rule. Changes have been made. Two of our youth players were not offered contracts by the club. Naturally we wish them well and hope that they soon find other clubs, perhaps at a lower level, who will give them the chance to realise their dream of becoming professional footballers.

Some of last season's loan players (Michael Rose, Fraser Forster, and Stephen Elliot) finished their loan period with the Canaries and returned to their parent clubs. Some former City stalwarts (Jamie Cureton, Paul McVeigh, Gary Doherty, and Daryl Russell) have come to the end of their contracts and not agreed new ones. They have joined, or in some cases are desperately seeking, new clubs. Some players (Michael Spillane, David Stephens, and Rhoys Wiggins) have been transferred to other clubs. Two of our younger players (Tom Adeyemi and Cody McDonald) have been loaned to other clubs to continue their development. Several new players have joined our great Club.

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We all have views and prejudices on the players who have left, those who have joined, and those who in our opinion should have been signed. Controversy rumours and stories abound. Did Newcastle really ask for an exorbitant loan fee which lifted Fraser Forster out of our price range? Should we have paid the fee regardless? Would he have been worth it?

Did Gary Doc really demand �10,000 per week to re-sign, as has been suggested on some message boards? Would HE have been worth it? Yes he made the occasional lapse, but 99 times out of 100 he won the ball, and he also weighed in with some important goals at crucial times. Can we rely on the fitness levels of three of our four centre backs, who seem to be worryingly injury prone?

Did Darel Russell really report back for training on 1 July, only to be told that his services were no longer required, as his replacement had already been signed since Darel had left the club in the lurch by not putting pen to paper sooner? Does this mean he can no longer afford to replace his old VW Golf? Do we still have too many midfield players, to the extent that we will have no option but to offload a few of them before the end of the transfer window? There seem to be at least ten players fighting for four places in midfield.

Given our club's apparently precarious financial situation, can we afford to pay the wages of our enlarged squad without running the risk of bankruptcy and/or administration a la Portsmouth, Crystal Palace or Ipswich?

Unfortunately I do not know the answers to these questions. I do know that Forster, Gary Doc, and Rusty all made major contributions to our success last season. I was a fan of all three, including the much and in my view unfairly maligned Doc, and I thank them for their past efforts and commitment to the Canary cause. I do not know whether their replacements John Ruddy, Elliott Ward, and a whole host of midfield dynamos and “holding men” will prove to be inadequate, similar, or better. But I do know that Lambert has chosen the new players, and that he is a better judge of footballers than I am.

In Lambert we trusted. We were right to do so. In Lambert we continue to trust. Let us give the newcomers the chance to show what they can do. They have much to prove, but they may even turn out to be better than our recently departed heroes. Time will tell.

Let us keep the faith. Let us reach for our replica shirts and club scarves, which have been gathering dust since the end of last season. Let us reach for our rattles and rosettes, and make one final check that we recall the words of OTBC. Let us remember to leave our vuvuzelas at home (I know they were the most exciting thing about the World Cup, but they are banned from Carrow Road). Let us pause to pay tribute to Roy Waller, whose enthusiasm and love for our club will be sorely missed. Let us make this season one to remember. Let us hope it is as enjoyable and successful as last season. Let us hope we do the double over Ipswich and win the Championship. Let us hope Zoe somehow finds a way to continue to supply us with delicious brownies from her newly established abode in Norwich. Let us reach for the stars and hope all our dreams come true. Let us be having you!

Football is back. Norwich are back. All roads lead to Carrow Road, and quite a few railways do too. Forget those meaningless pre-season friendlies. The first game of the new season is an evening game on Friday 6th August, against Watford. Let us give Malky a rousing reception on his return to Carrow Road. Then let us kick start our season with a win to take us above Ipswich and straight to the top of the League.

Maybe we will win 7-1. Stranger things have happened on the opening day of the season in recent years....

t Membership of the Capital Canaries is open to all London based supporters of the club. Benefits include great travel deals to matches and the chance to socialise with other exiled Canary fans www.capitalcanaries.com or contact membership@capitalcanaries.com

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