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Next Season

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I''m like Delia - I''m certainly not counting my chickens as I know there is a long way to go yet and a lot of work still to be done. However should we go up, I have to say I have a completely different feeling to that back in 2004 when we went up as Champions under Worthy.

Now first things first, whatever happens over the next 2 weeks, one thing is for sure - we will not get to or surpass the total of 94 points that we amassed back in 2004.

Looking back at the 2004 team, that team had been built up slowly over a number of seasons and featured many experienced Championship (or Division 1 as it was then). Flem, Roberts, Mackay for a start had all been with the club from the late 90''s, spending many years during the barren spells under Rioch and Hamilton, before Worthy began to weave his magic and add on further players like Drury, Francis, Gary Holt. Others came and went, some, like McVeigh and Mulryne were inherited from the previous regimes. Going into the season, another Div 1 experienced campaigner in Edworthy was also added, which was an inspired free transfer signing.

In all, going ino the 2003/04 season, we had a very workmanlike and experienced squad. But we had a problem in that we couldn''t score goals. Iwan was passed his best and was more of a peripheral figure that year, but we had no other reliable strikers. It took a rather dull August for the board to realise this, which led to the Crouch/Huckerby/Harper loan signings. After this we didn''t look back but he bottom line for me was that the 2003/04 squad was workmanlike, experience with one flair player in Huckerby. McVeigh, at a stretch, also demonstrated times of flair during the season, though arguably his best spell for 2 seasons before this during the Play-Off campaign.

The team back then grounded out result after result but, Huckerby aside, had little flair. This for me is why we had a problem going into the Premiership. Those Championship 30-something warriors (and they were mid-thirties, not just early 30''s) would undoubtadly struggle in the Prem and we had to replace them with more reliable players.

Long story here but we know we didn''t replace them with anywhere close to what as needed. In fact, we ended up with a worse squad than the one we were promoted with (or at least until Jan when we signed Ashton - too late).

Bringing it back to the present day, I have a completely different feeling this time around - should we make it of course!

Why? Firstly we don''t have to ditch any first teamers because of age and concern they won''t be able to step up because ''they are too old'' (a la Mackay, Roberts etc).

Only Grant Holt is the wrng side of 30 in the team - and that only by a matter of weeks. He still has 3 good years left in him. After Holty, the rest of our current squad are young and hungry. The squad that Lambo has built, in my opinion, IS built for the Prem far more so than Worthy''s team (which was built to win the Champ, but not succeed in the Prem).

In fact, watching the Cardiff/QPR game yesterday, I think QPR are far more like the Norwich team of 2004. Their ''Huckerby'' is Taarabt. Him aside, it''s a workmanlike squad with a number of players that you feel could struggle next year. They have quite an aging team (Derry, Helguson..). They have a lot of work to do to bring that squad upto Premiership standard - and in all liklihood they may even lose the talismanic Taarabt to a bigger team. It will be interesting to sign what happens with QPR, but for Norwich, I wouldn''t be at all surprised if we do better than QPR next season.

Anyway, let''s get through the next 2 weeks first...

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QPR will have money to spend thanks to their rich benefactors which will help them build...but money doesn''t make individuals into a good team.

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I think the beauty of the age of our team and also the fact that alot of the squad are on long contracts, even if the worse should happen and we find ourselves playing Championship football next year, we should be able to make one or two additions and make another serious challenge for promotion.However as it stands its looking like hopefully this will be a top flight squad next year. I think we have a huge amount of potential in talent that can make the step up to the premier league and to be honest I think it wouldnt be a case of whole sale changes being needed. Instead just maybe 4- 5 at tops sigings of quality players just to help the current squad. Its been discussed before we probably need a more experienced Keeper to give Ruddy some competition, another CB with top flight experience, a winger and another striker. Of the last two I would love to see Long and Bennett come in.

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