If any further evidence were needed that the Canaries were starting to enjoy life in the fast lane, then it arrived in the shape of this week’s ‘seven-figure’ tie-up with Group Lotus.
The Hethel-based engineering company are the latest, high profile local company to join the Norfolk side on the global marketing platform that the Premiership now offers.
Aviva, of course, are the No1 beneficiary of extra ‘brand awareness’ when it comes to the company Paul Lambert’s men can now keep in terms of their global audience.
But it is equally clear that via this latest, long-term deal that the Canaries are making full use of their new-found status amidst the richest football league in the world.
All of which helps underpin the finances that allowed Paul Lambert to bolt Liverpool’s 20-year-old defender Daniel Ayala into his 2011-2012 thinking – just in time, too, given that Zak Whitbread was one of the casualties of Saturday’s 1-1 opening draw at Wigan.
The Texan picked up a ‘knee knock’, according to Canary chief Lambert. As such, the Spaniard could walk straight into the manager’s first team plans for Sunday’s first home clash of the season against Stoke City.
“This is a great and dynamic partnership with another Norfolk sporting giant which everyone at Norwich City is really excited about,” City’s chief executive David McNally told the club’s official website ahead of a race car strewn official Press event – with Formula One legend Nigel Mansell among the VIPs.
“It is a significant deal financially and another welcome commitment to the club from a globally-renowned brand which also has a proud Norfolk heritage.”
The opportunity – and the mutual benefit – was clearly not lost on the ceo of Group Lotus, Dany Bahar.
“No-one can deny the global appeal of football and this partnership with our local heroes Norwich City Football Club will provide us with a new platform to talk to future Lotus fans.
“The relationship makes sense on so many levels.”
What made equal sense this week – particularly given Whitbread’s latest injury knock – was the arrival of Ayala to strengthen Lambert’s hand again ahead of the Potters’ visit.
The fact that the one-time Sevilla prospect was able to command a four-year deal suggests that he comes to Norfolk with the full recommendation of Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool as Lambert continues to work that ‘Glasgow Mafia’ link to Norwich’s best advantage.
Lambert is not the only manager left to assess his casualty list after the season’s opening game.
Stoke’s typically combative 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Sunday produced two, key – or at least as far as Norwich are concerned – injury alarms for boss Tony Pulis.
Star winger Matthew Etherington and long-throw specialist Rory Delap are both now doubtful for the Europa Cup to FC Thon in Switzerland tomorrow night.
The fact that they play on AstroTurf has also left Pulis to question the wisdom of subjecting Jonathan Woodgate to a third game in a week – and all on such an exacting, artificial surface.
It was the shoulder and arm injury that Etherington sustained in a bruising opener at The Britannia that clearly topped Pulis’ in-tray.
“You don’t want to lose any of your best players,” stated Pulis, “and he has been one of our best by a country mile.
“Matthew is that type of player because he’s so quick. Defenders get there as quickly as they can to try to stop him, but sometimes he’s quicker than they are and there can be a bad impact at that kind of speed.”
Delap has picked up a recurrence of his hamstring trouble. Ayala’s potential Canary opener might be slightly less problematical if Delap isn’t dropping bombs into that awkward space between penalty spot and keeper.
As far as the Norfolk Nation are concerned, Delap might be best advised to sit out this weekend’s game and let his troublesome hamstring rest for another week.
As for Woodgate, on Sunday’s evidence the one-time great white hope of England defenders still has much to offer the game – if he can only stay fit. Which has been the biggest ‘if’ of his troubled career.
Astro probably doesn’t suit him well.
“They play on Astroturf, which is a massive disappointment for us,” said Pulis. “I find it very surprising we have to go there to play on that because it’s a big disadvantage.”
Jim Davies says
While I’m not unhappy that De Lap might not be fit to face us on Sunday because of his hamstring problem, Stoke have a couple of others who throw the ball just about as far as he does, so don’t let’s get complacent.
I’ll be delighted if Etherington is missing on Sunday.