Leeds United legend Peter Lorimer has tipped the Canaries to be genuine title contenders as all thoughts turn to Monday night’s League One humdinger at Elland Road.
With the Norfolk club in such a rich vein of form, it seems some people in west Yorkshire are a little concerned about City’s arrival.
Simon Grayson’s men have yet to be beaten in the league this season and currently sit top of the pile, with most tipping them to run away with the division.
But Lorimer – who played over 500 times for Leeds in two separate spells – thinks Monday night’s live TV clash could be their toughest test yet.
“By general consensus, the international break arrived at the perfect time for Leeds United,” he said in the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“Having said that, a home fixture against Norwich City is a major game for the club to be walking back into. I hope the cobwebs have been blown away.
“The fixture list could have thrown Leeds a straightforward match this weekend, instead they play a club who I think have every chance of promotion this season, not only via the play-offs.
“Leeds are eight points better off than the Canaries – a healthy head start if ever I saw one – but it would be wrong to assume Norwich are out of the running for automatic promotion or incapable of challenging for the title. After a very shaky start, their recent form has been ominous.”
He did admit, however, that it is going to take a lot to shrug off the memories of that fateful day in August.
City are going to have to keep up their winning run if they are to convince everybody. You say ‘Norwich City’ and most people will remember the disastrous 7-1 home defeat to Colchester.
But Lorimer is convinced they are on the right track with Paul Lambert and despite receiving some criticism for the way they dismissed a club legend, the United director, who terrorised the top flight in Don Revie’s fearsome side, said the Canary board made the right decision.
“Whenever their name is mentioned, the first thing I think about is the 7-1 defeat they suffered at home to Colchester on the first day of the season,” he continued.
“No result in League One will cause more surprise and it seems as remarkable now as it did then. Their board were pilloried for sacking Bryan Gunn after one league match.
“But I said at the time that bringing in Paul Lambert so quickly and so ruthlessly might prove to be a shrewd move.
“Bryan had no prior managerial experience and I didn’t ever get the feeling that the club were 100 per cent confident in his appointment.”
But with City in red hot form, Lorimer is convinced they will come to Elland Road with victory in their sights – Lambert certainly said as much during yesterday’s Colney press conference.
“Lambert’s influence has taken a while to take hold, but their results are beginning to speak for themselves – four successive victories, including a 4-0 rout of Leyton Orient and a 5-1 defeat of a very good Bristol Rovers side.
“Last weekend, they collected three valuable points in Carlisle. Be in no doubt that Norwich are in form and will come to Elland Road with their tails up, sensing an opportunity.
“They’ll be competitive and they’ll be strong. As much as any other team in the league, they’ll travel here feeling confident of becoming the first club in 10 months to win a league match there.”
Lorimer admitted that it will be Leeds’ sternest test to date and in his eyes, with more experience in their ranks, City are a better bet than the United’s current challengers for top spot – Charlton Athletic.
This fact alone, according to the Dundee-born former right-winger, makes Monday night a big, big occasion for League One.
“The next week and a half is about as tough as it gets in this division, but Leeds under Simon have dealt well with periods like this.
“I know that Leeds have played Charlton Athletic already but Monday’s match would appear to be United’s most difficult game of the season so far.
“Unlike the Charlton team, Lambert’s line-up is packed with experienced and recognisable pros. The fact that they’re such serious contenders – in my eyes, at least – means a positive result is essential.”
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