Why Norwich have no choice but to splash the cash following …
The Canaries are back in the Premier League thanks to a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough and can learn a lot from the business the likes of Burnley and QPR did this year
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And so with the champagne spraying, the pyrotechnics firing, ticker tape falling and dubstep booming around Wembley, Russell Martin hoisted aloft the play-off trophy confirming Norwich City s return to the Premier League.
By bouncing straight back they join a rare club; just the third team in the last five years to do so and they ll go down as deserved winners of a game estimated to net the club a colossal 80 million. On their first trip back to Wembley since the victorious 1985 League Cup final Alex Neil s men looked so assured, so calm given the pressure on both sides and so ruthless when presented with opportunities.
PARTY TIME | Goalscorer Nathan Redmond’s second secured victory for Norwich (Getty)
They only really had two clear chances.
Cameron Jerome stole the ball from under Dani Ayala s nose before calmly rolling it beyond Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, while Nathan Redmond capped off a sublime team goal, all inside 15 minutes.
Middlesbrough were stunned, they froze on the big occasion and never gave their vocal support a chance to believe a return to the Premier League was on the cards. Patrick Bamford, Grant Leadbitter and Lee Tomlin – big players, important to Aitor Karanka s side they were swallowed whole by Wembley. But that ignores the Canaries brilliance.
At times they knocked the ball around with the the assurance of an established Premier League outfit and that will be the challenge for Neil and the board, one the 33-year-old Scot recognises. I m not silly, I know how big the task is, he told us afterwards. “We re going to be one of the smallest clubs in the Premier League. “I did it with Hamilton last year, we managed to go up and did well at a higher level.
I m hoping we can go up and give a good account of ourselves and be competitive.
GREAT SCOT | Alex Neil’s men showed their ruthlessness at Wembley (Getty)
Their last Premier League adventure came quicker than expected as Paul Lambert masterminded back-to-back promotions, taking the club from League One in 2009-10 to the top flight. Their stay lasted longer than expected too, only suffering relegation last year.
What they learnt from that campaign should play a big role in their summer planning. Labelled the 130m game – but 80m for Norwich as they are still receiving parachute payments – business advisory firm Deloitte conducted a study concluding: that could swell to 230m if they avoid relegation – because the new TV deal kicks in from 2016-17. Premier League status has never been more valuable but floods of cash are also creating a divide between the natives and the tourists.
In the last six years, six teams have gone straight back down, three more failed to last more than two seasons. A glance at this year s final table shows Burnley and QPR adding to the first part, while Hull lasted just two years also.
But in failure, lessons can be learned and Neil, Delia Smith & Co. would do well to analyse two very different approaches to life in the Premier League.
Burnley spent a modest 9.5m this year on five players with four more arriving for nominal figures and Sean Dyche escaped criticism for largely sticking with the squad that gained promotion. It was admirable to a point but his pragmatism in the market didn t give the Clarets a chance of staying in the division.
STAYING POWER | Norwich must now plan for life in the top flight (Getty)
QPR are from the other end of the spectrum; owned by the well-intentioned but naive Tony Fernandes and managed up until February by Harry Redknapp – notoriously excitable in transfer windows. It led to their second relegation in three seasons and a pile of debt that has Uefa hot on their heels.
Frivolous spending without a long-term strategy was as much their downfall as inept management.
Rio Ferdinand signed in the summer on huge wages and played just 12 games. Shaun Wright-Phillips is still on the books and made two appearances. Jordon Mutch was bought for 6m and was seen just 11 times.
It was rank management.
Hull are slightly more of a basket case, rueful of a series of long-term injuries to Robert Snodgrass and Mo Diame but they also spent considerable sums desperately hoping to find a goalscorer capable of keeping them up. In Dame N Doye and Abel Hernandez the Tigers came close but not close enough.
BACK IN THE BIG TIME | Cameron Jerome sent the Canaries on their way with the opener (Getty)
So the message from this season s bottom three is spend money but spend sensibly and that would appear to be Neil s thinking too.
He explained: It s difficult planning for the Premier League.
We need to add a few quality signings to the squad. But I ll stick with the hardcore group of the squad who got us up. “It s not as if I ve got players who don t know what to do when they get there.
And that s true. With 85,656 people watching their every move, the likes of Bradley Johnson, Russell Martin and Sebastian Bassong thrived under the spotlight. Seasoned professionals, the spine of the team and integral figures for Neil to lean on as he, at just 33 years of age, gets ready for his biggest test.
He says he ll have a few drinks tonight before slipping off on holiday on Thursday and then it s down to work over the summer.
You get the impression Norwich are in good hands with this meticulous Scot steering the ship.