Over the years, we have continuously thought about an example from a club that we would aspire to follow. However, I think we have now achieved a level where that should no longer be the case. In fact, if anything, clubs in the Championship or below should now see us as the example to follow.
For years, we talked about the Charlton model being the one to follow, but the London club are now playing in the division below us. Stoke City might be another example that you can float around, but the Canaries outperformed them in the Premier League this season and actually also outperformed them in terms of set piece goals according to whoscored.com.
I would certainly understand the view that clubs like Swansea and West Brom might be seen as those to look to emulate. But it’s worth remembering that Norwich recorded league victories against both of these teams during the season.
A lot of us would agree that a finish in the top half of the EPL and European football are things we should aspire to achieve next season. Obviously, Swansea achieved both of these things this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a team we should follow.
After all, some fans wanted us to throw money around like QPR did when they first arrived in the Premier League, but that strategy hasn’t exactly worked out for that particular London club. Norwich has done things carefully in their first two seasons and will now be looking to really establish themselves within the Premier League.
Obviously, I am not privy to the various transfer budgets that are available during the summer. But it wouldn’t surprise me if Chris Hughton’s team are one of the bigger spenders in the league outside of the real big clubs. David McNally and the rest of the board know that they will want to take the club to the next level. And they are intelligent enough to know that can only be done through a fair amount of expenditure.
The TV money on offer for next season means they will be able to be ambitious with their spending plans, and the clearance of all external debt also means the club now has more options. The clearest sign of all of that was the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, which proves that Norwich is prepared to spend all the right players in order to progress.
Now, I’m not so sure that Swansea and West Brom are doing the same just yet, which is more reason why we shouldn’t be looking at them to be the examples to follow. The club has to find their own way and make the decisions that best benefit the squad. Of course, they have to do things carefully because we all know that spending money isn’t any guarantee of success.
But I think we have good people in control of this club, and they will ensure that things are done the right way. At the same time, we also have a good squad of players and wouldn’t want to completely change things around at this point.
The important thing is we do things the Norwich City way; fans want to see a team playing passing football and attacking the opposition at will. I think we have maybe moved away from that a little this season. To an extent, this is understandable because of the need to stay within the Premier League.
But next season it shouldn’t be just about survival as we look to break into the top half of the league and maybe try to win one of the cup competitions. Supporters also want to see the club going for it a bit more in certain games. It will be interesting to see what the transfer policy is during the summer.
The club made a reputation of buying the top young and hungry players from the lower leagues under Paul Lambert. And that strategy elevated the team from League One to the Premier League, but most people now agree that there isn’t a huge amount of talent left in the Championship that would make a real difference to the current side.
Chris Hughton focused his business on the defence last summer and added some good experienced players. A club like Norwich can’t strengthen every part of the team in every transfer window, but we would love to say that we could in the summer. Instead, Hughton is likely to focus his attention on bringing in the best attacking players that he can get.
It’s also likely that the transfer policy will be focused within the foreign markets, because this is where the best value for money is likely to be found. A lot of what Norwich aspire to next season will be dependent on the players that can be acquired during the summer. Scoring goals has been a problem this season, and the Canaries can’t afford to leave anything to chance next season.
Therefore, a busy few months lay ahead as the preparations for next season start now. But the club don’t need to waste their time in deciding which club model is the right one to follow. We have to do things our way and hopefully in the years to come that the Norwich City approach will be seen as the best, or the club model that all Championship clubs will see as the one to follow.