City winger Elliott Bennett revealed just how steep the Premiership learning curve has been for the Canaries as they prepared for top flight battle once more.
Bolton Wanderers – still smarting from that 5-0 humbling by Manchester United – await for City tomorrow as the Canaries look to (a) win their first game back in the Premier League and (b) look to avoid conceding a penalty for the fifth consecutive game.
And as up to 3,000 of the travelling faithful likewise prepare for the long haul north, so the 22-year-old gave his thoughts on the campaign so far – and how cutting out the unforced errors could see performances turn to points.
“That’s the difference,” said Bennett, who this time last year was plying his trade in League One with Brighton.
“In the league that I’ve come from, League One, you can make a mistake and sometimes get away with it.
“In this league, you don’t get away with it. And when you do get a chance, you do need to try and put it away to give yourself a foothold in the game. But we’ve been working hard all week in training and, hopefully, we can put that right on Saturday.”
He was, in many ways, merely echoing the thoughts of Bolton boss Owen Coyle when he said that: ‘You live and die in both boxes…’
However hard done by Norwich may feel right now with regard to the decisions of various officials, the trick is to try and to avoid giving officials those decisions to make in the first place – don’t get caught tempting fate, in short.
What James Vaughan could have done to avoid that elbow is, of course, another matter.
“Some of the penalties have been a little bit harsh,” said Bennett. “But that’s part of the game and, hopefully, they’ll all just even themselves out over the course of the season and we get a few penalty decisions go our way. And we put them in the back of the net.”
Bennett has already struck up a decent partnership with fellow new arrival Kyle Naughton down the right-hand side of the team. Whether City boss Paul Lambert opts to go with a flat midfield four with the young Bennett-Naughton combo adding their width and pace to proceedings is just one of the big decisions facing the Canary chief overnight.
Bennett, for one, wasn’t taking anything for granted; Lambert has run an away horse for an away course before now – one that sees the Telford-born winger return to the bench.
“There’s a lot of good players in this team and, as you know, the Gaffer changes the team quite a bit, so I’m just trying to hold onto my place in the team – train and work as hard as I can and see where that takes me through the season.”
It was all a long, long way from the leafy Withdean.
“It is a big jump,” he admitted. “Obviously the pace of the game and the quality of the players are better, but training with good players here through pre-season helped me massively.
“As I say, the speed of the game is quicker – and, as I’ve said, it’s about not making a mistake and being clinical. That’s something that I’ve really noticed.”
In the meantime, it was feet on the floor and nose to the grindstone for City’s seven-figure summer signing.
“I’m just looking to improve my game as much as I can and work hard and if that means that I’m in the team, on the bench or in and around the squad then I’m more than happy,” he said.
Bolton will, he said, provide yet another different challenge. In striker Kevin Davies they have one of the more respected Premier League warriors. Ritchie de Laet and Leon Barnett will know they have been in a game by five o’clock.
“I don’t think any two teams are the same in this league,” said Bennett.
“We’ve obviously trained with a view to what they bring to the game and how we can then try and get a foothold in the game ourselves. Hopefully, we can go up there tomorrow and get a positive result.”
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