Any lingering doubts regarding the striker Norwich City have identified to fire them to the next stage of their Premier League evolution should have vanished with the latest Dutch national squad announcement. Ricky van Wolfswinkel's route from Lisbon to Norfolk this summer will take him via Indonesia and then China after a call-up into Louis Van Gaal's 21-man squad for two Far East friendlies. The 24-year-old has one solitary senior cap to his name -- a friendly against Ukraine in 2010 -- but it was the stellar list of names and the exalted company he now finds himself in that underline just what is heading to England.
Norwich displayed a penchant for the show-stopping scene stealer with a superb Premier League finale at Manchester City on Sunday. Chris Hughton's men emulated champions Manchester United in becoming only the second team to triumph at the Etihad in the league this season with a thrilling 3-2 win they fully merited. Goals were traded like blows between two evenly-match boxers until Jonny Howson's sublime burst took him past four retreating Blues defenders before a calm roll underneath the advancing Joe Hart.
Norwich may well be mere bystanders this weekend to the real intriguing subplot at Manchester City that threatens to underpin a Premier League exercise in fixture list fulfilment. - Norwich wrap up full-time Garrido deal The divisions and the damaging fault lines that from afar appear to run deep through the blue half of this fine city erupted to the surface with Roberto Mancini's messy exit in the wake of a dire FA Cup final defeat to Wigan. The professional swatting aside of Reading on the same evening Mancini's fate was publicly sealed served only to embolden the theorists who suggest those that matter inside the City dressing room may not shed too many tears at the Italian's fall from grace.
The storm clouds that threatened to envelop Norwich City cleared to reveal the most wonderful end of season glow. In the space of little over 24 hours this week the angst and tension of securing a third season of Premier League football, which ended with Sunday's emphatic 4-0 home win over West Brom, has been matched by sealing a first FA Youth Cup victory in 30 years. - Davitt: Norwich pass Premier League test The achievements of Neil Adams' youngsters deserve to rank alongside those of Chris Hughton and their senior counterparts.
Some days in life are worth waiting for. On their day of reckoning, Norwich City produced a stellar display to secure another season of Premier League football. Defeat for Aston Villa on Saturday at home to Chelsea coupled with Sunday's 4-0 romp over an anemic West Brom guarantee Chris Hughton and his collective can enjoy a pressure-free final day trip to dethroned champions Manchester City. - Match report: Norwich 4-0 West Brom The Canaries were simply magnificent from first minute until Jonny Howson curled home arguably the best goal seen at Carrow Road this campaign.
Norwich City's role in the remarkable true life story of Sir Alex Ferguson's legend may well be overlooked in the coming days. The outgoing Manchester United great's imminent departure is truly the end of an era. The deluge of tributes that follow will testify to his legacy. Debates may rage regarding his place in the pantheon of British managerial titans; coloured it must be said by the usual tribal loyalties and demarcations that divide the biggest domestic football institutions. - Marcotti: What next for United?
Norwich City's fans use to hero-worship Paul Lambert. They are now sick of the sight of him after Aston Villa clambered over the Canaries in the Premier League survival race. Gabriel Agbonlahor struck a priceless 89th minute winner in a 2-1 win that elevates Norwich's final home game next weekend against West Brom to epic proportions. Grant Holt's penalty had cancelled out the former England striker's fearsome 25-yard strike 10 minutes after the interval, but it was Villa voices who provided the joyous soundtrack at the final whistle.
Chris Hughton has his detractors at Norwich City, but the man himself remains remarkably positive in his approach to securing the Canaries' Premier League survival. Hughton, in certain quarters, has been portrayed as a negative stylist -- a man happy to stick rather than twist; wedded to the same rigid formulas and personnel and slow to affect games with his substitutions. City failed to muster a strike on target in last weekend's Premier League defeat at Stoke. It has happened before, at Wigan in late March.
Paul Lambert is arguably the greatest manager in Norwich City's history. But any sign of the trademark one-handed victory salute at Carrow Road this weekend would carry worrying ramifications for the Canaries’ Premier League survival hopes. City's support and many of the players he bequeathed to Chris Hughton prior to his acrimonious exit for the Midlands last summer have already had to stomach one sour return to Norfolk. Lambert would not be made of flesh and blood if he had not derived an extra sense of satisfaction from plotting an emphatic 4-1 Capital One Cup win at Carrow Road in December.
It says everything about Norwich's labours at Stoke that the best news of the afternoon came in Lancashire. Wigan's late concession to draw at home to Tottenham ensured a desperately anaemic display from the Canaries in a 1-0 Premier League reverse at the Britannia was not compounded by their direct rivals profiting elsewhere from their miserable efforts. Wigan are now six points adrift of the Canaries with four league games left in the battle to avoid accompanying QPR and Reading out of the top flight.
The purists may wish to avert their gaze but Norwich's Premier League trip to Stoke Saturday proves how eclectic the top tier of English football is. Not every club can have a Robin van Persie peeling away onto a Wayne Rooney lift to crash home a wondrously dexterous long range volley. Or a Jack Wilshere to carve balletic tracks through back-pedalling midfields. Or, dare one utter it in this of all weeks -- a fearsome predator in Luis Suarez. Norwich and Stoke have none of that sublime raw material but both appear set to remain part of this exclusive cartel next season.
Elliott Bennett is the perfect case study in Premier League perseverance. Too often in the top flight the thin-skinned footballer, the prima donna player is projected as the dominant stereotype. Management at such a rarefied level of the game is as much about massaging bruised egos and bolstering fragile confidence. For all intents and purposes, it is a squad affair these days, but do not for one moment think the overwhelming majority of Premier League players are happy to defer to their direct rivals.