Norwich City’s academy plans really are something to shout about

Robert Green is a product of the Canary Youth system. Robert Green is a product of the Canary Youth system.

Monday, October 22, 2012
4:33 PM

“It’s a big day for the football club.....we are thrilled.”

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Could they be words from Norwich City chief executive David McNally after a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday?

Or maybe they are extracts from the Carrow Road top man’s proud declaration after the Canaries stick it to Lambert and his merry men in the Midlands next week?

Well, they are quotes from DM and were made last week.

And while victory against Villa would indeed be great for the club, McNally actually used the phrases to talk about an off the pitch development.

Getting recommendation for category one status for the Elite Player Performance Plan doesn’t sound like something which immediately gets the blood pumping and the juices flowing.

Fans won’t be chanting “We love you EPPP, we do....” from the terraces.

But McNally is absolutely right that it is hugely important for the club – and we must hope it can create a golden era of young players coming through the ranks at Norwich.

I’m not doubting that the team at Colney works really hard to breed young talent.

And there is no doubt that the current rules about only recruiting lads within 90 minutes of the city are very restrictive.

There are two million people in the relevant area while clubs at a similar level have a pool of about 15 million or more.

You will all have your favourites from the Carrow Road production line down the years.

How about this for a line-up which wouldn’t be too shabby?

Robert Green in goal, Paul Haylock, Darren Kenton, Danny Mills and Greg Downs in defence (ok, I know one of the full-backs would have to play in the middle), Darel Russell and Peter Mendham in the centre of midfield, a choice of Mark Barham, Darren Eadie, Dale Gordon, Ruel Fox and Louie Donowa on the wings (how exciting would that be?), with Craig Bellamy up front along with Justin Fashanu or Chris Sutton.

In reserve you have the likes of Jamie Cureton and Andy Marshall – and I’m sure you can all name others.

In that squad are five full internationals, two England Under-21 caps, and several big money sell-ons which have provided vital cash in tough times.

The Canaries hope the academy will become a pioneer in this region if the cat one status is confirmed.

Elite players will be able to be brought through sooner, they can be looked after at an earlier stage and their education will be preserved.

It is long-term planning which is very impressive and very welcome.

“We are convinced that this will help us provide better and more talented players in future seasons,” said McNally.

I’m all for sustainability and Norwich is a club which should be built on that foundation.

We love to see local lads succeed and some of the names I’ve listed above are true legends.

In these days of big bucks and the obsession with instant success, we should welcome this commitment to improve home grown talent.

• FANS FORCED TO DIG DEEP FOR SPURS CUP MATCH

It was clearly no surprise that the shock news about Paul Lambert’s compensation claim from City dominated proceedings at the recent fans’ forum.

But if that announcement had not been made, I’m sure a lot more would have been said about the ticket prices for the Spurs League Cup game.

I’ve done a fairly unscientific straw poll among fellow fans and the overwhelming view is that £30 is a lot for an adult ticket for the match.

Yes, it is against Tottenham. Yes, it is round four of the competition and yes, it can give us a chance of a trip to Wembley.

However, we know very well that Spurs will field a greatly under-strength side (if they keep any players in from the previous league game I’d be surprised) and the Canaries are also likely to look very different.

As well as that there needs to be thought for the normal fans who will have to dig deep to watch the match,

For me and my son (who is 17 and is a student but has to pay full price) it would be £60 plus fuel to get to and from Dereham.

Tickets for under 12s are £5, which is not too bad especially as it is half term.

Surely, though, it would be better to drop all the prices down to make sure it is a sell-out and reward the loyal fans?

I’m sure players would rather have a full house rather than seeing empty seats around the stadium.

Also I assume the proceeds from cup runs are a bonus to the club so the money made will not have been budgeted for.

• Hero of the week: Paul Wood – I salute you. Yes, the rugby prop who carried on for 20 minutes after rupturing a testicle is seriously, seriously tough. The next time any footballer goes down in a heap after a nothing challenge, he should be forced to look the Warrington man straight in the eye and explain himself.

• Villain of the week: Where to start after the farcical scenes in Warsaw and the appalling behaviour of the Serbs on Tuesday night. I could dish out countless boo boy gongs to the muppets who refused to shut the roof and the officials who dithered and wouldn’t make a decision and didn’t tell the fans what was happening. And as for the ugly end to the under 21s match in Krusevac – a long ban is the only way to punish them.

• Funniest moment of the week: Forget Peter Kay, Michael McIntyre and Jack Dee. At this rate, tickets will soon be selling as quickly as hot pies for Comedy Nights With Nigel Reo-Coker. The new signing at Portman Road was clearly performing the warm up to his UK tour when he said: “Ipswich are a sleeping giant.” If that wasn’t enough to get them rolling in the aisles, he added: “The club may be at the wrong end of the table but it’s still early in the season and I’m sure with the manager and the players the club have, it’s only a matter of time before things turn around.” Stop it Nigel. I can’t take any more.

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