One day to go… onto the sensible stuff.
I asked a bunch of fans their thoughts for the new season. What they sent to me was a snapshot into the mind of a Norwich supporter, a mind that is confident, hopeful and completely perverted. I have edited out the perverted answers, but I hold the right to publish (make them up) in future if I fancy a giggle. So, the panel:
Gary – 27 year old fan currently in exile up in Lancashire
Richard – Old man, contributor of player reviews, season ticket holder in the Upper Barclay
Alex – 25 year old season ticket holder in the Jarrold. Impersonates Toadfish Rebecchi.
Liam – Another 27 year old, lifelong fan, goes to all the home games time allows.
Zoe – 26 year old exiled in Manchester, season ticket holder of 18 years (!)
Kriss – 16 years old and current season ticket holder
Jamie – 42 year old exile currently bothering koalas in Perth
Jon – 36, now a Londoner but still a season ticket holder
Now you’ve met our panel, here’s what they’ve got to say:
So chaps – our first game is against Wigan. How are we going to do?
Richard – Win. I think we’ll just about do enough to nick it 1-2. It will be the springboard to beat Stoke and kick on from there.
Alex – I think we’ll lose 2-1, Jackson getting our goal. We are absolutely abysmal on opening days and I feel the pressure may just get to us.
Liam – I think it’s going to be a very scrappy affair, but I think we’ll shade it 1-0 in the dying minutes of the match.
Zoe – I’m reasonably positive, as I always am these days. Goodness only knows what the team will be but I’m excited about seeing the new boys and I’m going for 2-1 Norwich (Holt and Hoolahan, a timeless combination).
Jon – I was reading that Wigan typically perform poorly in their opening home matches. Still, I’d take a solid draw on the road. Even the so-called lesser teams in the Premier League are going to be far more of a handful than we’ve been used to. 1-1.
The others all went for wins. All of them. The feckless optimists. So, only one hesitant enough to predict an opening day defeat…
Everyone’s tipping us a relegation dogfight – who is going to go down?
Jon – I don’t think we’ll go down, and I don’t even think that’s misplaced optimism. QPR are going to
struggle if they lose Taraabt. Wigan have been teetering over the abyss for a while now. Swansea’s home form might just save them. Let’s go for QPR, Wigan and Wolves.
Jamie – Three from Newcastle, Blackburn, Swansea and QPR.
Kriss – Wigan, Blackburn, QPR.
Liam – QPR, Swansea, West Brom.
Zoe – Not us! I think we’re foolish if we think we won’t be involved at some point, but my three for the drop are Swansea, Blackburn and Wigan.
Gary – Wolves, Blackburn, Swansea.
Alex – I can see us going down; our defence seems Blackpool-esq. I also think QPR will go down after a fairly fruitless pre-season for them, but it depends how they buy in January. I also think Newcastle will go down. Having lost Carroll, Nolan and a pissed off Barton, they must be a bit worried. Having said that, Blackburn also look dreadful – I just don’t know!
Richard – Wigan (‘bout time), QPR (ha ha ha ha ha) & Blackburn (awful town, awful ground, awful fans, awful club).
Which of the new signings are you looking forward to seeing in action most?
Kriss – Elliott Bennett. He got over 20 assists and has a cracking right foot.
Jamie – Pilkington.
Jon – I saw De Laet at Palace in the pre-season friendly. He looked like a touch of class. Also, Bradley Johnson looks like he could be the archetypal ‘midfield terrier’. But everyone, really.
Richard – Bennett & Pilkington. I love a quick winger right off. Most of my favourite Norwich players are wingers including Barham, Donowa, Gordon, Fox (R), Huckerby.
Alex – Elliott Bennett is our most exciting signing I think. He is young, so I expect a nervy first few games, but after maybe a first goal and a couple of assists I think he’ll be aces. Also interested to see how Naughton will do for us on the left, assuming Martin is not injured and Lambert doesn’t think Tierney is quite up to it.
Liam – Pilkington. Having seen him against Parma he looks incredibly strong and has great awareness.
Zoe – I’m really looking forward to seeing Bennett, I love a winger I do. He’s going to create lots for Holty.
Everyone wants to see the wingers.
Does any part of the team worry you going into the season?
Zoe – It would be easy to be worried about the defence, but I think de Laet and Naughton are good signings. I trust Lambert and I would imagine that we’ll be scoring at least 3 goals a match anyway, so the defence probably won’t matter too much.
Liam – As much as it pains me to say it, I think that Ruddy is our weakest link. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see him do well, but he’s prone to errors and I can’t see him keeping out the likes of Rooney etc.
Jamie – Maybe the back four.
Kriss – No, I’m confident with all the players Lambert has brought in and we have the players to step up to the occasion.
Jon – I’m not worried. I’m certainly happier after seeing how we looked head and shoulders against a number of our pre-season opposition. But we’re going to have to get used to not having things our own way in the Premier League. Goals and clean sheets will, inevitably, be harder to come by. It’s going to have to be a real team effort to survive.
Gary – I feel we could use another defender as this is where I feel we will be punished with the quicker players in the prem. The only part of the team that worries me is Holt and all the transfer speculation all the time.
Richard – I would like to see experienced back up to Ruddy. I am a Ruddy fan and he is my No.1, I guess if he gets injured we could easily get an emergency loan in. Other than that I would have liked to have seen a more experienced Centre Back but overall I’m happy.
Alex – Defence is a constant worry; I’m not sure about Barnett or Whitbread having seen them both in action in pre-season. At right back I think we are sorted, but left back is a concern. De Laet looks the real deal, but it’s a big decision as to who starts along either side of him.
If you had free reign to buy one more player (being realistic), who would you bring in?
Alex – Danny Kelly from Liverpool. Proved himself at left back last year for a top, top side and I think he’d do a great job.
Kriss – Lewis McGugan from Nottm Forest.
Jamie – Not sure specifically but an experienced defender to help the back four.
Zoe – If we could buy anyone (this isn’t me being realistic) I would sign Vidic in an instant. More realistically, I would like to snap Henri Lansbury up. Not a world beater, but his attitude and quality would help us out this season. Plus I feel like he might need the comfort of a reassuring Lambo cuddle right now. He seems a bit of a lost soul.
Liam – I’d love to see Pacheco or Lansbury back in the yellow and green.
Richard – I would have liked Scott Dann for the reasons above, Upson too but wages would be too much I guess.
Jon – Nicking Scott Parker from West Ham would be a great addition to the squad, not to mention quite satisfying. I can’t stand West Ham.
Gary – Hmmm player to bring in, I would have to say Jamie Carragher (he may be getting on a bit but still has plenty to offer).
Where are Norwich going to finish?
Jamie – 14th
Kriss – 10th, under Lambert anything is possible
Jon – It’s pointless trying to guess an exact position, but higher than many people might think.
Gary – 12th (but I would be happy with anything from 17th up)
Richard – I think we’ll come in somewhere between 13th & 16th, lets say 14th.
Alex – I know nobody wants to think it who is a Norwich fan, but I think we are going down in 18th place. I hope not, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it happens.
Liam – It all depends how well we start out of the traps. The first few fixtures (except for Chelsea) are our chance to really rack some points up on the board. Given how tough our run in is at the end of the season we really need to start well. If we get those wins I think we’ll stay up, if we don’t we’ll flirt with relegation.
Zoe – 15th. I think we’ll be scrapping away with a fair few teams, but will secure our position before the final match.
Who’s going to win the league?
Jon – I can’t see beyond Man Utd. All this talk of a challenge from Man City – and, from one commentator the other day, Liverpool! – is fanciful rubbish. Ideally, I’d like to see Arsenal win it.
Richard – Liverpool. No champions league to distract them, they could be a good bet. Man U will just fall short as will Chelsea, Man City will implode and lose out on the Champions league to Arsenal.
Alex – I just can’t see past Manchester Utd. Chelsea haven’t bought well, Man City aren’t a proper team yet, Arsenal are badly managed and Liverpool are still recovering.
Liam – Man Utd unfortunately. I think Chelsea will push them close but the title’s theirs yet again (yawn).
Zoe – Manchester United. I was incredibly impressed with them last weekend in the Charity Shield. Some of their passing was sensational and Man City were made to look like donkeys.
Kriss – I think Man Utd will win the league. Again.
Jamie – One of the usual suspects…
Gary – Man City.
Finally – Will Paul Lambert be manager in 12 months time?
Richard – If my prediction is right and we stay up yes for another 6 months or so at least. If we go down, we’ll lose him at the end of the season.
Alex – No! He will leave us whether we get stay up or go down for a bigger club. I will wish him luck and thank him profusely for his incredible work the last 2 or 3 years.
Liam – It depends if we stay up or not! If we do, then yes. If not he’ll go to Celtic.
Gary – I think Lambert will stick and not twist.
Jamie – Most definitely.
Kriss – Yes.
Jon – My gut feeling is probably not, unfortunately.
Zoe – The BIG question. He’s not going to get fired, it’s just whether or not we can keep him. Hmmm. It depends on so many things: how well we’re doing, how well other teams are doing, and who gets rid of their manager and when. Now we’re up, he’s not going to leave for just any old team. I’d like to think he’ll give us another season and assess it then, he’s young and it’s not going to do him any harm (please stay Paul).
That’s it. Thanks to the guys for getting back to me.
Only one person predicted relegation and opinion on whether Lambert stays is split. But most of you are a confident bunch aren’t you. Masochistically confident. I personally believe we will stay up – but its going to be a bloody hard slog. And I’m not sure we’re going to end our opening day tradition yet. But that’s for tomorrow…