City majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones have admitted that thoughts are already turning to next year’s Championship campaign, despite the dust only now settling on Saturday’s title party at Carrow Road.
The 2-0 win over Gillingham clinched the top prize for Paul Lambert’s men and with a second tier return confirmed the week before, the pair revealed that they have already sat down with the man who has overseen a remarkable turnaround in Norfolk.
“The work starts now and we’ve already been talking to Paul, obviously, but we can now sit down and discuss who he needs, who he doesn’t need and what budget we’ve got,” said Wynn Jones, speaking to reporters after the Gills triumph. “It will all be finalised now we know where we stand.
“Obviously we’re very excited and while we were all hugging and kissing after the game, we said ‘ok, same time next year – let’s go again’,” added Smith.
“But that was the second emotional day in a week. It was probably the icing on the cake [seeing them clinch the title at home] and it was wonderful to do it in front of all the supporters that are here every week.”
From gaining only one point in the first three league games,which included that opening day 7-1 disaster against Colchester, to winning the division at a canter, it really has been a remarkable campaign – even by City’s standards.
And while paying tribute to Lambert, the players and supporters alike, ‘the Smiths’ couldn’t quite believe it was all possible after the U’s shocker back in August.
“Paul has taken us from a 7-1 defeat against Colchester to winning the championship and he has turned it around,” continued Wynn Jones.
“But he’d be the first to admit that he wouldn’t have been able to do it without the players. And they would also admit that they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the supporters.
“We couldn’t have imagined this would happen and that opening day was surreal. It took our breath away and I don’t know how we got through it really,” added cookery queen Delia. “But with the way it has turned out, I’m so pleased for our supporters – they absolutely deserve it.”
Even though the pair have always admitted they would step aside if the right investment was brought into the club, it is clear their passion for Norwich City is as strong as ever – there won’t have been two happier people inside Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon.
“Even on that bleak 7-1 day, it didn’t diminish our desire,” Delia said, as a matter of fact.
Elsewhere, the Football League tribunal have finally met in London regarding Lambert’s move up the road from Essex and the two clubs are now awaiting the verdict.
It is thought, however, that this could take weeks to reach and the East Anglian pair have no choice but to sit tight and wait for the disciplinary commission’s decision.
The U’s reported their League One rivals over the affair for misconduct and a breach in regulations, with Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling always maintaining that he didn’t grant Norwich permission to appoint Lambert.
Canaries chairman Alan Bowkett did, however, insist that they made a “lawful approach” for Lambert and that an “over generous” offer of compensation had been made.