Norwich boss Paul Lambert can still sense the feel-good factor around Norfolk, as pre-season kicks into gear with the trip to Germany this weekend.
They face Dereham Town in their first friendly on Saturday and then the squad fly off for their private training camp a day later, as preparations for that first Championship fixture against Watford start in earnest.
And Lambert feels the club is in a healthy place, with last season’s League One title triumph still fresh in the memory. With that, however, comes expectation.
“You can sense the feel-good factor and you can feel it in the city as well,” he told reporters today. “Everyone just wants the first game to come and hopefully we can push on and try to do as well as last year. We have earned the right to play in this league.
“I think this club will always have the expectancy level because of the number of people who come and watch us. That is what generates the expectancy levels and the feeling at the club.
“I have always said that the supporters are the most important thing at this club, along with the players; that is the way I will always see it and that’s my view on it.”
It seems only two minutes ago when it was party time at Carrow Road, with the trophy being paraded in front of those delirious supporters on the final day of 2009/10.
But the break has quickly been and gone, and Lambert admitted it is difficult to switch off from the game – especially in a World Cup year.
“It comes around pretty quickly so it does but it’s good that the lads have come back pretty fit. There are some new lads there as well and with the majority there from last year, they are in good spirits.
“As soon as the final whistle goes, that is the season over with and it’s onto a new one. I always say football waits for nobody and we have to try and hit the ground running. That is what we will try and do.
“I’ve been watching the World Cup, I think it’s great. The tournament is fantastic. I don’t think you ever switch off [from football] if I’m honest.
“It is always on your brain, whether you are trying to get people in or whether football is on the tele. I don’t think you ever really switch off.”
With the Canary chief doing his business early, the squad will be looking to bond sooner rather than later. And Lambert sees a clear benefit to getting his men in before the nitty-gritty really starts.
“I didn’t want to be going away, scrabbling around for players come the end of pre-season. We go away on Sunday with everyone and we will try to bond them together and create that spirit that has stood us in good stead so far.”
One of his new signings has been Everton goalkeeper John Ruddy, who arrived in Norfolk on a three-year-deal yesterday. And Lambert revealed that it will signal the end of the Fraser Forster chase, with finances playing an important part as always.
It seems that Forster is a wanted man, and even though Newcastle are not willing to sell, there will be plenty of clubs prepared to pay top dollar to secure his services temporarily.
But that could have also swayed Lambert away from the Hexham-born ‘stopper in the end, with the Scot keen on having his No.1 in the building permanently.
“Listen, you have the money factor which is always there – the loan fees and those type of things,” continued the former Celtic hero.
“We just can’t compete with the teams that have the finances. The lad came here and did well and whoever ends up getting him will get a top goalkeeper.
“There are loads of factors which I don’t think people understand when you go for a loan signing, especially with goalkeepers. If Newcastle get injuries to both their ‘keepers, they would call him back and we would be left with two young ‘keepers.
“That could happen on the first day of the season. As I said, Fraser was fantastic for me and was a major part in getting this club up.
“But John [Ruddy] has had the same impact up in Scotland with Motherwell. I have spoken to Craig Brown and Archie Knox and they could not speak highly enough of him.
“He is a big, big lad as you have seen and he is only 23-years-old. He has played over 150 games and I’m delighted he is here.
“John has received high praise already from David Moyes and he had a terrific season up in Scotland. We saw him a few years ago when he was at Stockport and it’s funny that that is where we saw Fraser.
“I have always known about him and the big thing is that he is our goalkeeper. He is no loan, he is ours and that’s fantastic.”