Norwich will never lose sight of the Premier League goal

Posted by Paddy Davitt

<--photo1-->The message coming out of Norwich City these past few days should resonate loud and proud. Rising expectations will not cloud the primary Premier League objective.

Norwich's 2-1 win over Wigan at Carrow Road last weekend stretched a club record Premier League unbeaten run to 10 games, and counting, as Chris Hughton's men gatecrashed the top seven for the first time under his tutelage.

- Canaries beat Wigan to extend run

Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and Stoke have all tried and failed to lower the colours of a club largely consigned to the Football League prior to a ball being kicked this season. A forecast that appeared chillingly accurate when they succumbed so meekly at Fulham on the opening day and followed that up by shipping nine goals against Liverpool and Chelsea.

Norwich act as a weathervane to how infinitesimally fine the margins are between success and failure in the most exacting club league across Europe. Hughton can now do no wrong, when earlier in the campaign elements of Norwich's support questioned if he was the right man to succeed Paul Lambert.

Centre-back Michael Turner was castigated and a target for the boo boys after a ropey introduction to his Norfolk sojourn following a summer move from Sunderland. Turner is now cherished as an intrinsic part of a backline which has been transformed with the summer addition of Sebastien Bassong from Tottenham. Turner's injury absence recently after damaging a shoulder in that landmark Premier League win over the Red Devils was greeted with unease by many of the terrace population. Ryan Bennett's smooth elevation from the shadows merely underlined the residual depth to Hughton's resources.

Where once the experienced City manager was being forced to publicly assure fans that first win was just around the corner, that first clean sheet on the horizon, Hughton is now batting away a fresh post-match line of enquiry - how high can the Canaries soar?

Relegation and anxious glances over the shoulder in some quarters should be replaced by a concerted drive to better last season's excellent 12th placed finish - maybe even mention of the E word if Norwich maintain their current rate of accelerated progression towards the fringes of the scrap for Europe.

Hughton is having none of it. Neither are his players. The goal remains what it is always has and will be for clubs of Norwich's stature. Survival. Another season of Premier League football. Another tranche of Premier League riches to help embed those foundations for sustainability for years to come. To emulate the likes of Stoke and Fulham who are now able to attract genuine top quality performers and pay the going market rate required.

Scottish international Russell Martin went further when he told me there is absolutely no chance of City's dressing room getting carried away on a tide of rising expectations. You only have to look at the characters who populate Hughton's squad. A rump who started their careers on the wrong side of the tracks; in one or two cases emerging from non-league football. That shared experience tends to forge a clear sense of perspective.

Norwich as a club and the majority of their players have endured the harsher side of professional football. They have no wish now to leave the land of milk and honey.

To remain amongst the status quo again does not signal a lack of ambition. It shows a healthy degree of respect for what it took to get to the Premier League in the first place.

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