x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Premier League new teams: Norwich aim to improve on Blackpool blueprint

After two promotions in two seasons, Norwich City arrive in the Premier League with an irresistible momentum.

After two promotions in two seasons, Norwich City arrive in the Premier League with an irresistible momentum.

While 179 points have been acquired in their last 91 matches, the most telling statistic shows this is a side with a conviction that every second counts.

Last season, 17 goals were scored in the last five minutes of matches.

It is testament to their indefatigability. These are players making the most of every opportunity, rewarding their manager for his faith in the untried.

Paul Lambert's blueprint has been to recruit from the lower leagues, rationalising that it increases footballers' motivation to succeed.

"I've signed players I know because I can trust them," the Norwich manager said. "I know what I'm going to get from them because I've seen them at close quarters. If you get hunger and desire in a footballer and they've got a bit of ability, it takes you a long way."

A common denominator among his seven summer additions is a grounding at lesser levels.

While Ritchie de Laet, the 22-year-old Belgian defender, and Kyle Naughton, a 22-year-old right-back, were borrowed from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur and James Vaughan, was bought from Everton, it is telling that they were loaned by Championship clubs Portsmouth, Leicester and Crystal Palace respectively last season.

The other quartet - Elliott Bennett, Bradley Johnson, Steve Morison and Anthony Pilkington - came from Brighton, Leeds United, Millwall and Huddersfield, all lower league sides.

Intriguingly, each, like the side Lambert inherited two years ago, has spent time in League One.

With Bury, Northampton, Stevenage and Stockport on their CVs, they offer little by the way of Premier League pedigree.

An attacking attitude is expected to compensate. Lambert has implemented a diamond midfield with Wes Hoolahan, a converted winger, at the tip. The signings of two more wingers, in Bennett and Pilkington, plus a pair of strikers, Morison and Vaughan, and a goal-scoring midfielder, in Johnson, suggests the onus will be on progressive play again.

As Norwich's defensive record, only the eighth best in the Championship with 58 goals conceded, was far from impressive, they may be regarded as endearing underdogs, taking the role Blackpool adopted.

Except, they hope, with a happier ending.

sports@thenational.ae