Need to know: Norwich

Five things to know about Norwich going into the 2013-14 English

Premier League season:

NEED MORE GOALS

Lack of goals almost cost Norwich its hard-earned Premier League

status last season. With two games left, Norwich had scored just 34

times and was flirting with relegation. Two wins and seven more

goals secured a flattering 11th-place finish.

Manager Chris Hughton has since spent a combined 13.5 million

pounds ($21 million) on forwards – that’s 13.5 million more than

Arsenal – to avoid another tense finale. Responsibility falls on

Netherlands international Ricky van Wolfswinkel, a club record

signing from Sporting Lisbon, and Englishman Gary Hooper, who

arrived from Celtic.

POST-HOLT ERA

For the first time since 2009, Norwich is without talismanic

striker and captain Grant Holt, who joined second-tier Wigan. The

one-time tire fitter defied his many doubters by firing Norwich to

two promotions, guided by manager Paul Lambert, and a mid-table

Premier League finish in 2011-12. Holt’s 15 goals then prompted

talk of joining England’s European Championship squad. Under the

more defensively minded Hughton, Holt could seem disinterested and

tested fans’ faith even as his eight goals proved crucial. At

Carrow Road, swapping out Holt with van Wolfswinkel is seen as

necessary as the team matures.

HONEST YEOMEN

Holt typified the honest virtues of Norwich’s unlikely recent

rise: mostly British, team-first personalities, with many having

spent time at semi-professional clubs outside of England’s four

established divisions. Even today, six of Hughton’s squad –

including Hooper and club captain Russell Martin – have played in

the so-called non-League ranks.

Norwich has tried to sweeten its style with high-class additions

– van Wolfswinkel, Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer and England Under-21

attacker Nathan Redmond – without losing an identity which served

the club well. More pace and creativity, without losing the

defensive solidity which kept 10 clean sheets last season, is

needed to take Norwich higher.

BOARDROOM STARS

Norwich would be runaway champions if the Premier League was

decided by TV ratings and book sales scored by club directors. The

majority shareholder since 1996 is Delia Smith, the long-reigning

queen of British television chefs. She later recruited Stephen Fry,

the actor, writer, wit and gay rights activist who has recently

been a prominent critic of Russia’s anti-gay legislation ahead of

the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Fry is as likely to regale his 6 million-plus Twitter followers

with Norwich match updates as rallying cries against Russia’s

Vladimir Putin. Both Smith and Fry are genuine, long-standing fans

who live locally. In a league of teams owned by absentee American

billionaires, Russian oligarchs and Arab sheiks, Norwich stands out

as a club which is of and about its community. And no other English

team wears yellow and green.

DEBT-FREE – TIME TO EXPAND?

Norwich is a rarity among European football clubs – effectively

debt-free. The cozy Carrow Road stadium holds a little more than

27,000 spectators, and 22,000 are season ticket holders – more than

AC Milan has. There’s a waiting list to secure a seat and Norwich

has long wanted to expand capacity. The current main stand was

built after a major fire in 1984 and seems too modest in an era of

multi-billion-dollar television deals. Still, Norwich needs to

maintain Premier League status to justify the investment and avoid

a potential financial tailspin.

A fast start from Hughton’s side this season, and fans may see

the height of Delia & Co’s ambitions.