Norwich City must lose the inferiority complex
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Norwich City need to shed any lingering inferiority complex to return to the Premier League and then reach their full potential over the next few seasons.
The Canaries’ top flight decline was notable for a deferential acceptance of their lower status against rivals with vaster resources and richer top flight pedigrees. Dave Stringer moulded a collective who relished trying to upset the odds, particularly in his first full campaign at the helm which saw them finish fourth in the old First Division.
“Sometimes a team who is united can overcome perhaps better players and achieve a lot more than perhaps they would as individuals,” he said. “You look at Southampton this year. They had good players but the team ethic was good and if you look at the majority of sides you think are perhaps the more unfashionable ones who do well, they have a good collective spirit. Even the best clubs have good individuals playing as a team. You need that team ethic and players who know what is required of them.
“You have to give them ambition as well. I think there is a natural ambition in the Championship to get promoted so there you go, that is your target. In the Premier League, or the First Division in my time, it was about aspirations. I used to hear people say that Norwich could not be up there with the big boys. Well, I didn’t believe that and neither did my players.
“We gave ourselves a target to go as far as we could and reach the highest position possible, not just think about staying in the division, because when you say that you can fall short and it creeps up on you before you know it. You always feel you have another game to turn it around; that isn’t a high enough target for me.”
Stringer’s players also reached two FA Cup semi-finals in his time, which the former manager believes had a detrimental impact on attempts to emulate that stellar top four league placing.
“That was an unbelievable finish, when you think we were top of the league for the majority of the season and beating some of the top sides,” he said. “At that time the majority of the players were domestic, British-based players and now you have all the top players in the world so it probably pushes the bar a bit higher. “We were doing well in the FA Cup competitions, we got to two semi-finals and by the second time perhaps players felt that was the attainable aim, rather than winning the league. The concentration went a touch, not from the coaches and management, but perhaps unconsciously from the players who in their own minds felt they could realistically get to the FA Cup final and win it.”