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Continue improvements and Norwich City will be just fine

PUBLISHED: 17:11 06 September 2011 | UPDATED: 17:16 06 September 2011

Grant Holt gives John Terry a helping hand during Norwich City's trip to Chelsea. Photo: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Grant Holt gives John Terry a helping hand during Norwich City's trip to Chelsea. Photo: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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So three games in and the fixture gods have already given us a break to work out if it’s gone well or not – that is probably as close to a positive you can get for an international break.

"The sentiment still works a treat for City this season – adapt to survive, and the quicker the better"

Michael Bailey

Depending on your state of mind, the Canaries’ statistics either lie or leave you turning in your sleep – encouraging performances, or simply two points from three games.

Three penalties conceded, two red cards and no clean sheets – Swansea have two.

Or creating chances with 10 men at Chelsea, taking a point with 10 men in City’s only home game to date against Stoke and scoring in every match so far – Swansea are yet to hit the back of the net.

It’s part of the early season fun every August – only this time, the stakes feel higher.

And they are. Anyone who took in Saturday’s trip to Chelsea or the coverage that surrounded it will have felt the very real palm of the Premier League on their shoulder.

It’s just a shame some of our national media colleagues let that cloud their view of City’s impressive performance at Stamford Bridge.

Still, there is already an encouraging if fledgling pattern developing – one we saw a great deal of last season and could yet bear a lot of fruit in the top flight.

Taking a trip back 12 months, the early performances were scratchy for a City side trying to prove they could make the leap from League One to the Championship stick.

You could argue they failed, but in a good way… yet the point remains – a side that worked hard to beat a blunt Barnsley and at times rode its luck at home to Swansea, also looked naive when Watford came to town and got things wrong in the 3-1 defeat at Doncaster.

That was the learning curve the League One champions had to deal with – and they dealt with it.

They competed but looked a little short of Cardiff’s quality by the time their October loss in Wales arrived – then, not only did they find their feet, they used them to run the rest of the division ragged in four exhilarating final months.

Now it would take some serious optimism to put all faith in a similar serious success in the top flight this season – and for that, I mean the modesty of midtable.

But the sentiment still works a treat – adapt to survive; the quicker the better.

A trio of games is a modest sample, but from taking a solid point at Wigan to at times outplaying Stoke, before giving as good as they got at one of the top teams in Europe, represents steady progress by Paul Lambert’s side.

An indication they are getting to grips with things – in the same way they developed in League One and adapted last season.

That is as we sit here, now. The key – as it has been every season under Lambert – is continuing the progress.

This is the Premier League – where adapting means defensive and disciplinary naivety need to end by the time West Brom visit in 10 days’ time. And it probably means bagging that first win too. Here’s to history repeating…

Just saying…

• What a stunning result at Old Trafford on Sunday. Sadly Arsene Wenger and Arsenal seem to be entering their end game – when you get to that point, the boss’ departure is more a case of when, rather than if. And you should be playing Henri, Arsene…

• It is always either Spurs or Everton who have a miserable start to a top flight season. Can’t imagine north London is a happy football haunt at the moment – unlike Manchester. What odds the title not heading there in May?

• Transfer deadline day – or the ‘restriction of trade’ as Glenn Roeder used to call it. Completely unfair, but as compelling a day as you get all season. Love it. Expect to see more exits than arrivals at Carrow Road today, though.

• Watching City provides the passion, but it’s hard to ignore the beauty whenever Barcelona take to the pitch. Even just a European Supercup win over Porto. It’s football from another world.


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