Norwich City have had a tough start this season with Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea all faced in the first five games. Before the season started I had expected more than six points. The reality is much different as nobody expected the horrendous injury problems, Zimmerman and Hernandez out before we kicked a ball and currently around 10-12 unavailable for selection.
Saturday’s opponents, Aston Villa, have spent £133 million on players whilst letting 10 players leave Villa Park. The footballing world including ourselves were not expecting a free transfer 30 goal striker to be joining City, they are a very rare gift. Being relatively unknown in the UK other than his unsuccessful stint at Celtic, it was worth exploring YouTube to watch the many quality finishes produced at his last club Brondby. Virtually all of his goals were quality finishes and from all angles. You can see he is a natural finisher as he often does not need to look up when shooting, his positional play is class and Teemu is proven at international level who works his socks off for the cause.
Time will tell if City survive this season, the club were Champions ahead of schedule and so maybe it’s too early to expect that we stay up? We could look at Fulham who invested over £100m and failed. Norwich were promoted based on a tight-knit team ethic with no stars. To bring in big money footballers would upset the existing group.
After the apparent financial issues experienced at Villa following relegation, I am really surprised that the club have spent big again. It could be justified if safety is secured. Sunderland are another example of a big-spending club, now in League One with a huge wage budget and poor players on long term contracts. Norwich have gone for stability with the nucleus of last season’s squad being retained. Watford have proved in the past the capability to frequently change managers and assemble squads from every corner of the world excepting this season of course where the wheels appear to have come off?
The Viila squad looks pretty strong and contains players with good characteristics and with motivation make an impact. They have been successful in keeping Grealish which is a key positive. I am a fan of McGinn and Hourihane who provide energy, assists and goals to the team. I hope ex Tractor boy Ming plays the ball and not the player on Saturday, we have enough injuries already! I expect Villa to survive comfortably mid-table.
My association with Villa goes back to 1975 when we played each other in the League Cup final at Wembley. On that occasion, Villa had nicked Ron Saunders who then came back to haunt City. Paul Lambert like Ron did an amazing job at Norwich and both left impressive legacies. In both cases the fans were more disappointed with the managers in the manner they left the club rather than have any gripe with Aston Villa.
Paul is single-minded, shows no loyalty and doesn’t do politics. His attitude in playing us as Ipswich manager was no different. We enjoyed not just beating Town 3-0 but also seeing Lambert throw his toys out and get sent off...happy days.
There is plenty of respect in how Villa Park received Norwich on the last game of the season to secure the Championship. A magnificent stadium to lift the trophy.
At this stage of the season who likely to be relegated? Watford who are struggling to get going and got well and truly stuffed by Manchester City, Newcastle United who will not recover from losing Benitez, Steve Bruce is not the answer and the other place is up for grabs.
It looks like to survive, home form will be key. Carrow Road is still a tough place to get a result and the atmosphere generated has been brilliant. Villa have found this to be the case on the last four occasions to Norfolk. My heart wants a win desperately especially after the last two away defeats. My head says a draw.