Here we go again. Norwich City have won just ten of their last 76 Premier League fixtures. That’s two seasons that have seen them finish rock-bottom of the top flight with a measly 21 and 22 points. But in the Championship the meek Canaries transform into Pterodactyls.
The last two seasons at this level have delivered two Championship titles, 191 points and 56 wins from 92 fixtures. As the other second tier clubs have watched on, the yellow and greens have streaked away into the distance, but both seasons they were under the steady guidance of Daniel Farke.
The German boss couldn’t make things work in the Premier League, but the odds were always stacked against him. When he had a level playing field, he produced miracles. That first promotion under him, took the footballing public by surprise, as he built a title-winning team in his style, despite the sale of top scorer James Maddison to Leicester.
But this time around, they are rebuilding without Farke at the helm. Dean Smith came into Carrow Road in November last year and was unable to keep them up. Now he’s back in the Championship looking to get another promotion on his CV, having taken Aston Villa up through the play-offs.
But this isn’t a happy summer in East Anglia. The general misery around the club that emanated from the results last season has left some supporters feeling apathetic about their upcoming season. Even if they win the league, what is the point? The club, owned by Delia Smith, haven’t shown any PL ambition and seem to be happy as a self-sufficent club, bouncing between the top two tiers.
This summer, as Burnley have made waves by recruiting stars from the Football League and bringing Vincent Kompany in as manager after their relegation, Norwich have barely disturbed the water. Smith remains, and they have brought in just two signings as Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden joined on loan and Gabriel Sara joins from Sao Paulo.
Although the Brazilian brings intrigue it will be another unknown quantity, while Mathias Normann and Ozan Kabak returned to their parent clubs after their loan deals expired. Instead the Canaries will be relying on the moves they made last summer to pay off this season. They spent £57m on the likes of Christos Tzolis, Milot Rashica, Ben Gibson and Josh Sargent - all of whom couldn’t perform in the Premier League.
However, they should all be retained for this campaign. But the wider issues of those signings fall with Sporting Director Stuart Webber. He found gems in Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki, but recently his signings have been pretty poor, as last season proved. An hour-long interview he did in the post-season did little to endear himself to the Norwich faithful, as he shifted responsibility away from himself, and onto those in the stands.
He claimed ‘the fan's gave up quickly', ‘the fixtures were unkind’ and that the 'local media came after us', before he explained how the owners had given him permission to train for climbing Mount Everest this summer.
Sure, it’s okay to have your own interests and life doesn’t have to solely be about football, but after a dismal relegation season that Webber was majorly responsible for, it didn’t come across well. So now Norwich must regroup, and try and get promoted for the third successive time at this level.
The positives are that several of this group of players have done it before. Max Aarons, Tim Krul, Ben Gibson, Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmerman, Kenny Mclean, Todd Cantwell and Pukki have all played key roles in promotion-winning teams, and could well do so again this time around. It's a different way of doing things to Burnley, but over the past three seasons they've proved themselves to be the kings of bouncing back.
This is a club that has shown impressive resilience in the past, but the frustrated, tired and weary feeling will need to be banished from Carrow Road if they are to achieve another promotion.
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