Opinion: New beginnings in northern Italy for Norwich City

Norwich City's second half crew survey the scene in the early stages of the 13-0 pre-season opener against SC Vallee d'Aoste. 
Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City's second half crew survey the scene in the early stages of the 13-0 pre-season opener against SC Vallee d'Aoste. Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
11:27 AM

Appearances may indeed be deceptive but beneath the magnificent scenery of City’s idyllic Italian retreat and the difficulties in sourcing meaningful opposition there are genuine signs of renewal.

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This is a happy group of Norwich City players. You do not need to be inside the camp to deduce that. The body language is positive, the interaction and the banter evident for all those in attendance at Sunday’s 13-0 training work-out against part-timers SC Vallee d’Aoste.

City’s first half line up were gently barracked at times by team-mates sat in the main stand of the 2,500 capacity stadium nestled in the foothills of the Alps. Neil Adams and his coaching staff watched the ebb and flow intently, picking out trends and filing away information which may become essential when the real action begins.

You can focus on the narrower aspects of lightweight opposition and the value of such an academic exercise but City will get plenty of tough tests in the harsher terrain of the Championship. What Adams is striving to do this summer is construct the basic framework, the solid edifice that will equip Norwich to go to a Rotherham or a Cardiff and resist when they find themselves under intense pressure.

Team work and team spirit are not clichés bandied about to project an image of unity; they are requisite components in any successful side. Andrew Surman, below, has already drawn comparisons between the spirit that bonded the Championship promotion-winning side of 2011 and this collective.

Kyle Lafferty’s testimonial on the same positive line carries added credence given he has come in from the outside.

Norwich’s Premier League struggle to survive last season foundered on that inability to resist. In the worst moments of a campaign of angst and recrimination, like at Swansea or Southampton, there always appeared a lack of will, an acceptance of the club’s fate; an unwillingness or simply an inability to change the course of the Canaries’ downward spiral.

Russell Martin is an intelligent, erudite footballer in a profession wrongly castigated too often for the relative scarcity of intellectual endeavour displayed by those out on the pitch. Martin also speaks from a position at the very heart of Norwich’s dressing room; his City career spanning the highs and the lows of recent times.

The defender’s admission in the immediate aftermath of relegation that somewhere along the road the club had lost its identity was the starting point for a revival those 20,000 plus season ticket loyalists and many others inside Norfolk and further afield crave.

Martin spoke honestly and candidly about re-discovering values which had propelled them up through the leagues on a dizzying ascent. The captain will be a key figure on the pitch and in the changing room over these coming months. You can see that in the way he has carried himself in the first, early moments of a season which will really only be judged come next May, rather than the picturesque surroundings of Chatillon Saint Vincent against mediocre opposition.

Right now, it is all about fitness and integration; between new players and the ones who had to endure the pain of last season, or the new breed merging with the established order. There is a refreshingly youthful vigour to City’s squad with the Murphy brothers, Jamar Loza, Adel Gafaiti et al where last season there seemed too often a weariness, a lack of spark or invention.

Adams has shown the same willingness to bring players back into the fold and sideline others that characterised his brief spell in charge prior to his permanent elevation. Wes Hoolahan at the point of a midfield diamond will cause better teams and better players palpitations than he has faced so far in this pre-season.

Adams also increasingly looks the part. The youth team coach is now the first team manager and that authority and distance with his men is vital for both parties. You get a growing sense this is his squad and his time. The cancellation of City’s second friendly against Livorno on Wednesday may raise fresh questions on whether their Italian job is a worthwhile exercise, but the stirrings of a revival are undeniable.

39 comments

  • No prob, Crab. It`s ironic that the debate started from Padster`s unerring prolixity. Never short of a bit of tautology, we get "honestly and candidly", or "wrongly castigated too often". Of course, Paddy is an "insider", as everybody at Vallee d`Aoste knows. If not, he`ll soon tell you. Oops, he has. After all, there weren`t that many people at the "game". I`m surprised cutty liked that `article`. It was ... not very good.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Clearly, you simply don't want to see the point, diggerman - you know what they say - when you're in a hole, stop ..... oh - you can't can you - your name says it's what you do! I have nothing to apologise for - I've simply laid out the facts for you to see. Not my fault if you don't understand plain English. Thanks for your support Brew - at least you can understand where I'm coming from. My point is made, and I'm saying no more on the subject. If diggerman is childish enough to insist on having the last word, he can have it. Back to the footie .......

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • You don`t want testy testes, waclor. Bit like Southampton, where they have Itchen Testes. It was, perhaps, a clumsy use of `testimonial` by Paddy, in view of the alternative footy-related meaning. Another gratuitous display of his Thesaurus-powered erudition. `Testimony` might`ve been better. `Comment` may have sufficed?

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • All these posts about testimony or testimonials is giving me a pain in the testimonials.

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    waclor

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Mind set will be vital next term because statistically "bounce back" ain't good odds..........in the twenty eight seasons since the inception of play-offs only seventeen relegated clubs have filled an automatic promotion spot the following year.............twenty one others have reached the play-offs, of which only four were successful. Sobering figures and the longer you are there, the worse the odds become. So, all the chat about the squad bonding quickly needs to be true if City are to buck the trend!

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    Igno Rance

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Crab -You are the one who made a fool of yourself because the reporter used the correct word, but obviosly sorry is not a word you understand also, must keep to 'The cat sat on the mat..........' for you in future

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    diggerman

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Like your comments LYB. Ill get told off for mentioning his name but I wish we continued the old Paul Lambert pre-season routine of going away similar to what we've done in Italy, but to Germany\Austria. Away from the media and big cities and knuckled down. Had a few friendlies against Reliable opposition and come back in the right mind set good to go.

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    Mattias333

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • The quality of the original two Italian teams wouldn't have provided City with stiff opposition that's probably why they backed out. It was always going to be a morale and bonding trip and it seems to be working. Neil's doing the right thing and gradually building up towards better opposition.

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    cutty

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Every club will attempt to put a positive spin on their pre-season preparations and it is good to hear our boys are bonding well. However, the cancellations mean we have had no real test thus far. We also have the ticking bomb of potential transfers before we know how strong our squad will be. Being negative? Realistic I would say from someone who has supported this club for most of my life.

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    Lincs Canary

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Well the CFT got it through, though I did also use Brew's Masquerade Technique too, as a kind of belt and braces. I wonder if it will all stay here - I'll check back later. ;-)

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Testimony is defined in both sources as "a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a c0urt of Iaw". Pity this wasn't allowed through the first time - it might have saved the "dim nagger" from making a complete ar5e of himself. He might have earned a little more respect if he'd followed his own advice, and checked the definitions!

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • In both Wiki and the Oxford English Dictionary, an alternative definition is "a practice in some sports, particularly in football in the United Kingdom, where a club has a match to honour a player for service to the club".

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • He did however omit to point out that this is the definition "In promotion of goods and of advertising". An important omission, since this article is not talking about either. It is talking about football.

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • What I said was that I thought M_Y must be a Wikipedia devotee (Divotee?), since his definition of "Testimonial" is word for word how it appears in that august encyclopaedia.

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • OK - as it's obviously not going to make an appearance, and as diggerman thinks he's scored a point, I'll try to post this reply to Mellow_Yellow again. And as it’s now been ethered again, I’ll try using the patented CFT (you know what I mean Brew)

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    The Crab

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

  • Crab- I suggest you look up the meaning of testimonial before you show your lack of intelligence !

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    diggerman

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • I think we should have an annual preseason game against Nantes. The Canary Cup!

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    Southwold Jack

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • But having said that, they should have done what I wanted and sort out some friendlies in France, Girondins de Bordeaux number one on the list.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • I agree two cancellations is a bit of a farce, but why should anyone's head at Norwich roll? It's the opposition that cancelled at the very last minute. Ridiculous to suggest that the Norwich staff should have been able to foresee that in any way.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Agree with Dragonfly it's a total shambles. I don't really think there is anything in this bonding stuff either. Any member of the NCFC staff would be asking themselves 'how the hell did we come to be playing this shower'. Also the phrase 'couldn't organise a p1ss up in a brewery' would have been widely heard.

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    Steely Dan

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Nothing negative about Wolfie. Amazing how he stayed so positive for so long last season with so much working against him. Think he'll have a good'un. Think you're right that Bassong is in a bit of a snit, which is a shame as I still think he's basically a very good player who needs to do some meditation to get his concentration levels up, because that's the only thing that lets him down.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Fingers on buzzers......here is your starter for ten......hands up if you won't play for City this season????

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    tom the taxi

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Of course the players are a happy bunch . They`re being paid a small fortune to play football , and they`re getting a free Italian holiday .Given that there is a Premier League office staff at NCFC , the shambles of this trip is inexcusable . The first game was pointless , the next cancelled .Someone`s head should roll over this .

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    dragonfly

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Did try to reply to Mellow Yellow, but it's been ethered! Nothing rude or controversial. I'll see if it materialises by tomorrow, and if not I'll try again.

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    The Crab

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Mellow Yellow .... You are obviously a Wikipedia devotee (Divotee? :-) ) as your definition uses exactly the same words - but you missed a few -- the entry refers to the word being used in the promotion (of products) and of advertising. The Oxford English Dictionary is used more often when a reliable definition is required - "Testimony" is defined there as "a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law" - and this is the context of Divot's use of the word. Both sources have a secondary definition of "Testimonial" as "a practice in some sports .... where a club has a match to honour a player for service to the club".

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    The Crab

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • burnham.......so your'e saying NA should adopt the same thinking as Lambchops? What tosh you talk! He's had little success with anything since moving to Villa. As for your other comments concerning formation and players futures, don't you think its better that some cards are held close to his chest?

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • I for one think its fantastic to read such positive news. A good feel has returned about and around our beloved club. Great to see the lads, new and old, enjoying their football again. Good to see Wes back in the fold, and also NA beginning to make his mark. Can't wait for the new season! OTBC!!

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • I don't care what time it is! No one leaves until I find out who threw the jockstrap!

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    cutty

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • The Club look as unprepared for preseason as they were for the relegation dogfight. But pre-season matches are a notoriously poor guide for success once the season starts in earnest. What is important is that the futures of Bassong, Bunn, Fer and Redmond are settled quickly. Then we will see what Adams has to work with and what the first choice team is likely to be. We also need to see whether the team will adopt a regular formation or play in different formations from game to game as under Lambert. OTBC

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    burnhamcanary

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Crab....Testimonial defined consists of a person's written or spoken statement extolling the virtue of a product.

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    Mellow_Yellow

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Thanks Ken, but the only negativity around here seems to be coming from you...

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    Mikanary

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Don't get excited. All that team spirit will disappear as soon as Bassong and Wolfswinkie rejoin the squad with all the negativity that surrounds them.

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    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Caption: Bradley Johnson's turn to hold the sick-bucket as the class watches highlights of the 2013-14 season.

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    Swiss Canary

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • It's TESTIMONY, Divot - a testimonial is what players earn after long and faithful service to a club. When's Wes' ?

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    The Crab

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • "Kyle Lafferty’s testimonial" Christ, they come round quickly these days - he's only been at the club for two or three weeks!! ;)

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    cromercanary

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • Great to see the team bonding and having banter with each other, but we do need to start playing some games of football. Are there not any more pub teams we could play? Or possibly the local primary school?

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    James Dunthorne

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • That picture is crying out for someone to do a caption contest! (Disclaimer: This is not a negative post. If you ((yes you)) take it that way you are a plonker)

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    Mattias333

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • p.s. things are a bit stormy here at the moment.

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    cutty

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • That's better Paddy you can produce a good article when you try. The Italian trip seems to have worked it's magic on you, like wise the lads. Nice one.

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    cutty

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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