Norwich City are back to the Premier League again for the season of 2021/2022. The Canaries bounced back from the Championship straight away and did it in some style. They amassed a grand total of 97 points from their 46 games and emerged as the league champions.
They head into the Premier League for the second time in three years as the champions of the Championship. Norwich would be hoping to shake off the Yo-Yo club tag this time in the Premier League.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) May 8, 2021
Norwich have been a perennial yo-yo club. They haven’t been able to string together a couple of successful seasons in the Premier League this millennium. The Carrow Road outfit have been promoted four times in the past two decades. They failed at the first time of asking to stay in the top flight three out of those four times and swiftly returned to the second division. These failed exploits have earned them the infamous Yo-Yo club tag in British football.
They have been a much improved side in the Championship. Moreover, they have shown faith in Daniel Farke after a failed stint in the Premier League. He repaid the management and fans by earning them a promotion. The squad has been well-rounded and looks better. This time they have something with them they didn’t have it the last time, the Premier League experience. Norwich would be hoping that this would be the year to break the voodoo.
A record-breaking season! 👏 pic.twitter.com/V48OujOzLm
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) May 8, 2021
We at FootTheBall make a strong case for Norwich and we look at some of the possibilities how Norwich can shake off the Yo-Yo club tag.
LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES
The drop has meant that Norwich had to let go of their star players capable of doing it in the Premier League. They have lost two of their key defensive members in Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis to Everton and Newcastle United respectively. They were lucky to hold on to others such as Teemu Pukki, Emiliano Buendia, Tim Krul and Todd Cantwell. The Canaries board made smart transfers by bringing in Jordan Hugill and Kieran Dowell. The new signings had a substantial say in Norwich’s promotion push.
One of Norwich’s biggest problems last time in the Premier League was defence. They were conceding goals for fun. It was understandable that they conceded 75 goals in the Premier League. They faced some of the best teams and strikers in the world and their defence wasn’t simply ready to comply. This can be justified to some extent given that it was their first stint in the Prem for the squad. If you go back a year, you would find that it’s not a fluke.
Norwich had a similar leaky defence in the 2018/2019 season in the Championship. They conceded a total of 57 goals being the Champions of the league. A defensive record worse than most of the bottom half sides. This showed they didn’t plan much for their Premier League adventure the following season.
This time they learned from their mistakes. Ben Gibson a senior centre-back with Premier League experience was roped in from Burnley on loan. He helped the likes of Grant Hanley and Christopher Zimmerman to flourish defensively before his season ended in March due to an injury.
Max Aarons, the 21-year-old right-back matured into a complete defender, and left-backs Lungi Sorensen and Xavi Quintilla patrolled the left-defensive half. As a result, their defence tightened and let in only 36 goals. They were the division’s second-best defensive side behind runner-ups Watford.
A SMART TRANSFER STRATEGY
With the defence sorted, the Canaries focused on doing what they do best. They were a free-scoring side in the Championship and had replicated it to some extent in the Premier League. Teemu Pukki took the top flight by storm. The Finnish striker scored on his league debut against Liverpool and went on to register 11 goals in the league. They had pace in transition and used to score on the break. as the season progressed they became predictable and lost their way. They became the basement boys and got relegated with just 21 points. Their form was so bad that they failed to pick up a single point in the Project Restart after the pandemic.
They knew they had to be different in attack. Farke strategized using the central areas of the pitch to attack more. Emiliano Buendia became a number ten and started pulling strings from the middle. He’s arguably their best player and was named the Player of the Season in the Championship. Pukki and Cantwell started scoring more and they were more consistent. Their midfield too control of the games saw them see the games out safely. Norwich’s biggest fear is losing their star players again as they step up into the Premier League. Buendia who’s currently with the Argentina national squad for the Copa is a rumored target for Arsenal and Cantwell and Aarons are always linked with other clubs.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) May 9, 2021
The Canaries can take heart from the fact that coped well with losing Lewis and Godfrey. The hefty transfer fees collected were smartly invested into the academy and infrastructure. The board insisted on developing the local English talent owing to the Brexit. Due to Brexit, it is easier to generate local talent than go for star signings from abroad and slog for securing their work permits. So even if they end up losing their stars, Norwich can recuperate internally by either using the academy or signing British talents.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS TIME
Norwich have evolved over the year. Farke in particular has to be given the credit for the way he has brought this change. They used to be regularly involved in high-scoring games like 4-3,5-2 earlier. Now they are content with low-scoring games given that they the win. This mentality is not easy to incorporate. But once instilled this is what separates Champions from others. This can help Norwich tail away from the yo-yo club class.
2️⃣ Championship titles
1️⃣ Daniel Farke pic.twitter.com/LLbSyg0K20
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) May 25, 2021
The squad needs to be strengthened in key areas. Given the riches, they have to spend wisely. The first priority would be converting the loan transfer of the sensational Ben Gibson into a permanent one. Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer has also been marked as a potential centre-back addition. They have to sign a proper number nine to provide competition and backup to Pukki. Norwich suffered immensely when Pukki lost touch last time in the Premier League. A striker would always be welcome at Carrow Road.
The Norwich team of 2020/2021 has been sensational and was named the Best Ever Championship team by their ex-forward Darren Huckerby. They have to believe in themselves and do their part on the pitch. Teams like Leeds United have shown if a side sticks to its strengths star names aren’t required to thrive. The Canaries have enough quality and mentality this time to fight for their Premier League status. If they perform to their potential we can finally see Norwich drop their Yo-Yo club tag and remain in the Premier League well past the next summer.