TheHardTackle continues its analysis of the three teams that were promoted to the Premier League from the Championship. At the cost of West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham, the world will be watching Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City fight it out in the big league. Having already covered champions Queens Park Rangers, we now turn our attentions to the runners-up and the incredible story of Norwich City.
NORWICH CITY FC
Carrow Road (Att 27,000)
Paul Lambert – Ex-Scotland midfielder Lambert enjoyed a successful playing career, winning the 1997 Champions League with Borussia Dortmund, before transferring t o Celtic, where he racked up 4 Scottish league titles and numerous domestic cups. In June 2005, he embarked on his managerial career at Livingston, enduring a difficult tenure as he won only two games. After resigning less than 9 months into the job, he moved south of the border to manage Wycombe Wanderers, and then Colchester United. After hammering Norwich in their own back yard, Lambert was appointed Carrow Road chief, enjoying success from day one. His attacking philosophy combined with the team spirit he instils, means Lambert is one of the brightest managerial prospects in the game.
Twelve months ago, the club was said to have debts of around £20m. Although it’s not clear of the current debt figures, cost-cutting measures have appeared to have reduced it. The money generated from successive promotions will also have helped. In February, an injection of £2m from deputy chairman Michael Foulger was made available for transfers, whilst joint-majority shareholders TV Stars Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones both contribute financially.
The ‘East Anglian’ derby with Ipswich Town. Others include Colchester United and Peterborough United.
Formed in 1902, it wasn’t until 1962 that Norwich saw their first major trophy arrive when victory over Rochdale gave them the League Cup. Ten years later, under manager Ron Saunders, they won the Second division title to finally reach the top flight. In what was a busy time for the club, they reached the League Cup final again in 1973, losing to Spurs, got relegated in 1974 and lost Saunders as manager. John Bond was appointed as his replacement and immediately guided the Canaries back to the First Division as well as another League Cup final defeat at Wembley.
1980-81 saw Bond leave for Manchester City and another relegation ensued. But as was often the case, they bounced straight back up the following season. 1985 is a season remembered for good and bad reasons. Good because Norwich lifted the League Cup after beating Sunderland, but bad because they suffered relegation again. The second division title was captured the following season, then Norwich finally adjusted to the top division with top 5 finishes in both 1987 and 1989.
When the Premier League started in 1992, Norwich, then managed by Mike Walker, were the surprise package of the season. With goalkeeper Bryan Gunn impressing, the pace of winger Ruel Fox and the goals of Mark Robins, Norwich were top of the league for most of the season, only being overtaken by Manchester United in the final few weeks. An eventual third place finish saw UEFA Cup football the following season, in which Norwich gained their most famous result to date; a stunning 2-0 away victory at Bayern Munich.
Premier League football is back at Carrow Road!
When Walker left to manage Everton, Norwich struggled. With star players like Fox and Chris Sutton sold, a 12th place finish was followed by relegation in 1995. A string of managers including Gary Megson, Martin O’Neill and Walker again, all tried and failed to turn the club around. It wasn’t until 2001 that Norwich threatened promotion when the lost the play-off final to Birmingham on penalties.
In 2004 though, they were runaway champions, earning their place back in the Premier League. But it was a short stay, as they struggled throughout, getting relegated back to the Championship on the final day of the season. Their poor form continued for the next few seasons, only narrowly escaping relegation to League One in the penultimate game of the 2008 season. 12 months later though, they weren’t as lucky as a final day 4-2 defeat away at Charlton condemned the Canaries to the third tier of English football.
Life in League One couldn’t have started any worse as East Anglian rivals Colchester United handed out a 7-1 thrashing in front of the Carrow Road faithful. Six days later, manager Bryan Gunn was sacked, replaced ironically by Colchester manager Paul Lambert. A remarkable turnaround ensued, as the Scot lead City to the League One title with an entertaining attacking style of football. On the way, revenge on Colchester was gained with a 6-0 away victory.
SEASON 2010/11 – A BRIEF REVIEW
At the start of the season, the expectations for newly-promoted Norwich were simple; Stay Up! By May, Paul Lambert and his team had amazed everyone by claiming runners-up and a place in the Premier League.
Following the League One title success of the previous season, the bubble looked to have been burst with an opening day home defeat to Watford. But seven wins from the next 11 games showed that The Canaries were more than good enough to handle the step up in class. By the turn of the year, Norwich sat in fifth-place, one point behind the automatic promotion places.
The New Year saw the promotion race hot up, with Norwich, Swansea, Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United all vying for the second spot behind runaway leaders QPR. At the end of March, Norwich occupied the coveted 2nd spot. Four wins from six games in April cemented their place, then when nearest rivals dropped points in their penultimate game, the Canaries had the chance to seal promotion at Portsmouth. A Simeon Jackson goal was enough to earn a 1-0 victory, sending the travelling fans wild.
Top scorers in the division with 83 goals, Lambert’s free-flowing attacking side were a joy to watch. Already armed with the nucleus of a good squad, Lambert added players such as striker Jackson, who bided his time before his end of season scoring spree saw Norwich over the finishing line. Lambert also used the loan transfer system brilliantly, bringing in talented youngsters such as Henri Lansbury from Arsenal and Liverpool’s Dani Pacheco. The competition for places worked perfectly. Centre-half Elliot Ward was dominant all season, with Russell Martin brilliant at right-back. In midfield, Welsh International Andrew Crofts and Wes Hoolahan impressed, whilst there were goals galore from strikers Grant Holt, Chris Martin and Jackson lead from the front scoring 23 goals.
But the biggest asset of this Norwich side was their never say die attitude. Remarkably, they amassed a staggering 17 points by scoring goals in the last few minutes of matches. They will hope they show the same fighting spirit in their return to the Premier League.
Player of the Season:
Despite the merits of Martin and Hoolahan, there can only be one winner; Grant Holt. Top scorer with 23 goals, he also topped the assists table with 15. Strong and good in the air, he was key to Norwich’s style of play as he held the ball up for midfielders to support the attack. As captain, he lead from the front with his 100% effort. Canaries fans will be hoping Holt has similar success when he tastes Premier League football for the first time.
Norwich’s captain fantastic!
Performance of the Season:
The 6-0 demolition of Scunthorpe United showed Norwich at their brilliant attacking best. But for performance of the season, look no further than the 5-1 hammering dished out to East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town in their own back yard! The games against Ipswich are always the ones the fans want to win the most. Add to this, the intensity of the promotion race with only four games to go, the pressure going into the game was high. If there was any pressure, there were no traces of it as a wonderful display blew their opponents away. An own goal from Gareth McAuley was added to by goals from Andrew Surman, Jackson, Martin and Pacheco.
PREMIER LEAGUE 2011/12
TheHardTackle’s Players to Watch Out For:
Having scored 53 goals in the two promotion seasons, Norwich will be hoping captain Grant Holt can carry his impressive goalscoring form into the Premier League. Key to his success will be playmaker Hoolahan. The midfield schemer is Norwich’s main creative force, so will need to be on form if they are to succeed.
TheHardTackle’s Potential Signings:
With strikers James Vaughan (Everton) and Steve Morison (Millwall) already added to their attack, Norwich possess firepower in abundance. Their main focus will now be to shore up their defence and midfield; Leeds’ Bradley Johnson and Newcastle keeper Fraser Forster have been linked. With transfer funds limited, Lambert will be looking for repeat success in the loan market, with Lansbury and Pacheco amongst his targets once again.
TheHardTackle’s Season Prediction:
Following two successive promotions, confidence is high. Goals should be assured, keeping them out will be harder. But if Lambert sticks to his philosophy and the never-say-die attitude continues, we can see Norwich staving off relegation with 15th placed finish.
Written by guest author – Robert Nevitt – http://rnevitt.blogspot.com/
Follow the author on twitter @rnevitt