Norwich City’s two-decade rollercoaster ride continued with another promotion to the Premier League last season – their second stint in the top-flight in three seasons – and this time they’ll be looking to stay.
The Canaries are heading back to the Premier League after just a single season in the Championship, but their fans will be well-aware that, following their last three promotions, they have been relegated the very next campaign.
Daniel Farke was given the chance to get his side back into the Premier League following their most recent drop in 2020 and has rewarded the faith of owner Delia Smith by leading his side to the Championship title.
But the hard work begins all over again on Saturday evening as Norwich welcome Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to Carrow Road with top-flight survival very much the priority.
“Norwich have become experts in yo-yoing between the Championship and the Premier League,” Joe Hinchcliffe from Canary Cast tells FansBet.
“The next step is what’s really evaded us and that’s staying up – only one manager has managed it in recent history in Alex Neil.
“This season will be very much about taking that next step and trying to stay up. Everything off the field is great, but on the field, we would like to establish ourselves as a Premier League club at least for another season of course!
“We were ahead of the curve last time we came up to the Premier League, we knew that, the club knew that and they communicated that to the fans – we let in far too many goals and I think lessons will have been learned.”
Norwich won the Championship with 97 points last season, finishing six points clear of runners-up Watford and, though they’ve been here before, there is a sense of optimism among fans, mostly due to the activity in the summer transfer window.
The club completed the £8m signing of striker Josh Sargent from Werder Bremen on a four-year deal this week, following in the footsteps of former teammate Milot Rashica, who also switched the Weser Stadium for Carrow Road this summer.
The pair join Greece international Dimitris Giannoulis after his loan from PAOK was confirmed on a permanent deal.
“We’ve got five new senior players in the squad and there seems to be a really interesting theme amongst the incoming transfers,” says Joe.
💬 “We could get relegated but everyone would take 17th on goal difference with the final goal coming off Grant Hanley’s arse!” 🤣@JoeHinchliffe93 from @CastCanary says that #NCFC fans are both realistic yet optimistic about their chances of survival! 🤞#ByFansForFans 🤝 pic.twitter.com/kyrD0Y8j7x
— FansBet (@FansBet) August 10, 2021
“The club seem to be buying partnerships from across Europe. Dimitrios Giannoulis has joined from PAOK after joining on loan in January, and we’re now rumoured to be signing Chrisots Tzolis from them as well.
“We’ve also signed Milot Rashica and Josh Sargent from Werder Bremen – they’re not a prolific partnership but a partnership nonetheless, they’re obviously aware of each other and played together for a couple of years.”
The new additions will be welcome news to City fans who are still reeling at the loss of Emi Buendia, who completed a permanent transfer to fellow Premier League side Aston Villa.
Buendia joined City from Spanish side Getafe CF in the summer of 2018 and over the course of the 2018/19 season Buendia featured on a regular basis, netting eight goals as City secured promotion to the Premier League as champions.
In the following season Buendia would go on to score one goal in the Premier League, away at Watford, as City returned to the second tier.
Back in the Championship, Buendia delivered a series of impressive performances, netting 15 league goals and contributing 17 assists, as Norwich once again claimed the league title and returned to the top-flight at the first attempt.
“I was absolutely gutted we lost Buendia,” explains Joe.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen at Norwich in my supporting lifetime and an absolute magician.
“I don’t think there was a lot of point in trying to replace Buendia in terms of a like for like because, a: there aren’t many players out there that do what he does and b: we certainly can’t afford them, not with our budget.”
Despite the busy summer transfer window, Joe believes City’s business isn’t yet done as the club look to strengthen throughout the side in order to cope with the step-up in class that promotion brings.
Norwich had the second-best defensive record in the Championship last season, having conceded 36 goals in 46 matches and 18 clean sheets, but their back-line can be sure to face a stiffer test against the finest strikers the Premier League has to offer.
“We’re at least a couple short,” he says. “The signings of Sargent and hopefully Tzolis have buoyed the fanbase but we are very aware that we need a centre-back option and a defensive-minded midfielder – hopefully, that’s Oliver Skipp back on loan – and looking at the squad, we’re a bit short on left-back.
“Phillip Billing’s name is still circulating – it has been pretty much since the end of the Championship season – with Bournemouth wanting £15m, we haven’t parted with that yet and perhaps we’re looking at other options.
“At centre-back Andrew Omobamidele, who you’d be forgiven for not hearing about so far, he’s only played a handful of games for Norwich.
“He’s a young player and he’s very promising – he got a lot of blocks in towards the end of the season which makes me think his positioning is really nice – but I think it’s still a big ask for him to come in and start Premier League games.”
Norwich will be looking to avoid a third consecutive relegation from the Premier League following promotion to the top-flight but the fans will know just how difficult the task will be as they look to head back to Carrow Road in their thousands for the first time in almost 18 months.
And their job hasn’t been made easier by a tough start which sees them welcome 2019/20 champions Liverpool, before a daunting trip to Manchester City, a home fixture with Leicester and an away game at Arsenal in their first four matches.
“We’re acutely aware that we’re up against so we really do want to ensure that we stay in the Premier League and make a go of it in the second season,” reveals Joe.
“That’s what the supporters want, but a lot of fans are aware that we’ve lost our best player and there are a lot of new faces that need time to gel and of course those first four fixtures look really menacing.
“We’re acutely aware that we could get relegated but everyone would take 17th on goal difference with the final goal coming off Grant Hanley’s arse!
“We do just want to stay up and try and solidify ourselves as a Premier League club in the coming seasons.
“Norwich were the best team in the Championship by far and we’ve proved that.
“The loss of Buendia is monumental, Rashica and Tzolis hopefully can go somewhere to replacing him but the quality of Buendia, we can’t go out and buy someone like him.
“They’re going to have to have some period of time to gel and get up to speed with Daniel Farke’s system, but we are asking a lot from our new players in their first season in the Premier League.
“Hopefully they can prove me wrong and they can hit the ground running, but I think how quickly the new players gel will be vital in terms of how we do this season.”
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