City skipper Grant Holt was planting two, big feet firmly on the floor ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League return for the Canaries.
As one has come to wholly expect from a one-time, tyre-fitter from the Unibond League.
“We’ve been working hard towards something – and now it’s finally here to put it all into practice,” said the 30-year-old Canary favourite, as the City squad prepared to head for the North-West this evening ahead of their Premiership ‘debut’ against Wigan Athletic tomorrow.
Few of the players, let alone the manager know quite what to expect.
None have been top flight regulars; most – three kids permitting – have only ever seen the Premier League on the TV. Tomorrow and their grand adventure starts for real.
“But it is a massive weekend,” he admitted. “Obviously you’re in football to play in the best league in the world – which this is.
“And I’ve earned the right to be here. Now I’m just looking forward to getting out and playing.”
Few, if any, of Paul Lambert’s players take their starting places for granted; the manager confirmed that the team to face the Latics will only be announced tomorrow morning. But it would still be a huge shock if Holt’s name weren’t on that team-sheet for the season’s opener.
He has earned the right – in many senses – to lead that team out to battle in front of the 4,500 travelling Canary supporters. The two-time City Player of the Season has long ago proved his ability to lead men into battle. The captaincy issue has been taken as read all summer.
“I don’t really get to watch that much of the Premier League – I’ve got three kids,” laughed the City skipper, the last of whom only arrived this summer.
“Obviously it’s going to be different and obviously the clubs that are there are up there for a reason – a lot of them have been up there for a long time and are well-established. So it’s going to be tough.
“And we’re under no illusion that it’s going to be a tough ask. But we’ll go there and give our best – week in, week out.”
If the players were ready for the Premier League, was the Premier League ready for Norwich? Could the Canaries prove one of the big surprises this season?
“We obviously believe that we’re good enough to stay up,” said the City skipper.
“And the manager has brought in players to help us along from last year. We know that we’re going to have to be on it, week in, week out – playing to our full potential. But if we do that, then I’m sure we will give it a good shot.”
And not to get too carried away by who they were facing that weekend.
Because it will be the same every weekend.
“We try not to put too much emphasis on it,” he said. “We know we’re going to be up against talented players, talented teams every week. We know that.
“Whether it’s Manchester United or Wigan, they have all got players that can hurt you. And but we’re going in there with belief – we’ve worked hard and we’re ready.”
Had he set his own personal goal goals-wise? Could he add, say, 15 Premier League goals to the 30 he delivered as a League One player, the 20-goal haul he offered in the Championship?
“One,” was Holt’s quick response.
“People have already said that I won’t be able to do it up there anyway,” he laughed. “But then people said that last year – and the year before.
“I never set tallies – but I’ll got for 25. That will probably do it. And an England call-up – that will be a good year for me!”
Joking aside, Holt knows the mountain that the Canaries have to climb; goals will be gold-dust – both at home and away.
“We’re under no illusions – it’s going to be tough to score goals,” he admitted. “And if I score, that’s fantastic.
“But I’m always a big believer that it’s not about what I do; how many goals I score. And I think if you ask any Norwich fan they’ll say that I’m not just about goals – I bring more to the team than that as you can see from my assists last year.
“We just want to win games. And as long as I’m in the team and doing something right for it and the management, then I don’t really care whether I score that many goals.”