sport news The inside story of Norwich's return to the big time and why it's details not ...

In the search for the antidote to the untrammelled greed of the six billionaire owners who were ready to lay waste to English football a fortnight ago, it might be hard to improve on a symbol of the intelligent, diligent stewardship of one of our leading clubs that sits at one end of their first team training pitch. And no, it's not the Dulux dog.

Behind one of the goals at Norwich City's impressive new training centre, protected from errant shots by strategically placed netting, David, the club's gardener, kneels in the earth tending to rows of broad beans, kale, leek and chard. 'Posh spinach, basically,' he says.

The food grown here and the butternut squash in the greenhouse will be used for soups and vegetarian meals by the cooks in the players' canteen. It is a step towards sustainability. If Ed Woodward ran Norwich, he'd sign a new official concrete partner so he could fill in that vegetable patch and pave it over; everyone knows there's no profit in chard. But they do things differently here.

Norwich are back in the big time and will be looking to prove their doubters wrong in the Premier League

Norwich are back in the big time and will be looking to prove their doubters wrong in the Premier League

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Norwich and their new training centre is a symbol of the intelligent, diligent stewardship of one of our leading clubs

Norwich and their new training centre is a symbol of the intelligent, diligent stewardship of one of our leading clubs

Keeper Tim Krul is one of the cornerstones of Norwich's Championship promotion campaign

Keeper Tim Krul is one of the cornerstones of Norwich's Championship promotion campaign

At the behest of their highly rated sporting director, Stuart Webber, Norwich recently became the first English club to invest in the revolutionary football simulator, the £750,000 Soccerbot 360, and it will be installed on the other side of the main building at the training centre ready for the start of next season.

Webber, 37, researched the technology when he visited the then RB Leipzig director of football, Ralf Rangnick, in Germany. Rangnick is a proponent of the Soccerbot 360, which features a circular pitch surrounded by video walls on to which a series of projectors beam simulations of match scenarios. A player stands in the centre and makes passes towards the video wall with a football, which bounces back at them, developing reaction speed and decision-making.

There are plans, too, for two high-tech new swimming pools on the site to aid player recovery and fitness. There is a feeling here of a club who are more interested in details than dollars, even though they have to work hard to make their money go further. 

Since Webber arrived, there is also a feeling of a club always moving forward, always looking to innovate, always looking to provide the best environment for their players.

At the behest of sporting director, Stuart Webber, Norwich recently became the first English club to invest in the revolutionary football simulator

At the behest of sporting director, Stuart Webber, Norwich recently became the first English club to invest in the revolutionary football simulator

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Norwich were accused by some of a lack of ambition the last time they were promoted to the Premier League because they refused to spend money they did not have. 

They still had debts and they stuck to their principles and decided they did not want to risk the future of the club to pay, say, £8million to take Tammy Abraham on loan. Clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and went down a different road.

The criticism aimed at Norwich seems especially misguided now that we can see, in the shape of the desperation of clubs like and Barcelona to reap extra cash from the creation of the European Super League, exactly where profligacy and excess can lead. Norwich have eliminated their debt and are bouncing back from the Championship healthier and more confident than ever.

Goalkeeper Tim Krul, one of the cornerstones of Norwich's Championship promotion campaign this season and the kind of player who exemplifies the idea that signings at a club need to be about character as well as talent, smiles at the mention of the vegetable patch. 'I went over to look at it this morning actually,' he says. 'Little things like that sum up the values of the club. You don't see that very often.

Webber researched the technology when he visited former RB Leipzig director Ralf Rangnick

Webber researched the technology when he visited former RB Leipzig director Ralf Rangnick

'I arrived here three years ago and it was very different then. The training ground was just a lot of Portakabins. You should have seen the gym. It is on two floors now and it is state of the art but when I first signed, it was in a little conservatory. I will never forget it: I was doing my leg weights and there was rain coming through the roof and there were buckets on the floor positioned to catch all the leaks.

'Now, we have one of the best training grounds in the country. It's been amazing to be part of that journey. I have signed a couple of contract extensions here already. The club is doing a real life Football Manager.'

The club has a fine manager, too, in Daniel Farke and they sealed promotion back to the Premier League a fortnight ago after a season in the Championship and clinched the title yesterday with a victory over Reading. Norwich went straight back down the last time they made it to the top flight. The club are confident that will not happen again.

Partly, that is because players who were young and inexperienced at the start of last season and went into matches at cathedrals like Old Trafford and Anfield wide-eyed and awestruck, have come of age. They have been

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