Friday night. The Premier League opener. Champions League winners vs. the Championship winners. As the Sky Sports commentator utters those three words I hate – “And it’s live” – I will have butterflies in my stomach hoping that we might just bring some points back to Norfolk.
As usual, many pundits and fans of other clubs have already written us off. Many think that relegation is a certainty because we haven’t spent enough. It’s getting old now. Last season, before we had even kicked a ball, so-called experts had us finishing 12th at best and Leeds winning the title by the end of August. Look how that turned out.
I have watched carefully both Sky Sports and BT Sport adverts for the coming season – even rewinding to see if I blinked and missed a fleeting shot – but not once is Norwich featured. They show Jack Grealish lifting the play-off trophy, but there’s nothing showing our team of free-transfers, bargain purchases and youth team wonders lifting the Championship trophy.
talkSPORT have this week called Daniel Farke, “Nigel”, and the BBC’s Chief Football Writer, Phil McNulty has predicted that we will finish 19th with everything depending on whether Teemu Pukki “can make the transition to elite level”. Mark Lawrenson at the end of last season derogatorily dismissed Teemu Pukki as “what’s-his-name”.
It’s disrespectful and lazy journalism in many cases, but you know what? I don’t care.
We may not have spent much in the transfer window, and we don’t have the silly money that players in the Premier League are going for, but I don’t think that should be seen as a negative. We have been able to keep that strong core of players that won the Championship (with the exception of Barclay Block A’s favourite, Jordan Rhodes) and brought in a few who have been able to slot in comfortably without upsetting the dynamic of the team. One more addition in the defensive midfield position and I think we are there.
As I type, there are rumours about the imminent arrival of Ibrahim Amadou from Sevilla. An ideal addition – defensive midfielder who can also play centre back, who it is reported would come to us on loan with an option to buy. As with other rumours, I will wait until he has signed on the dotted line until I believe it.
We’re not a fashionable club. We’re not a big club. We’re in a corner of East Anglia with no motorways. But we’re doing something different in a football world where money is king, and player-power is rife.
We’ve got a team who wants to play for each other. A team where players not picked cheer on those who have taken their place. A club where supporters are valued. And a club with a thoroughly likeable manager and Sporting Director. Give me Norwich any day over the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds of the footballing world.
Let them write us off, let them underestimate us. Let’s fly under the radar like we did last season. We know who we are, we know our team and what they are capable of. We’ll just let our football do the talking.
“They wrote us off, they always do”