Xtabella's Blog



Saturday, 27 April 2019


Norwich have won promotion to the Premier League after beating Blackburn 2-1 on Saturday.
The Canaries, however, were not among the favourites to prevail in the Sky Bet Championship this season. So how have they managed to do it, and will they cope back in the top flight?

Patience with Farke

It seems incredible now that there was a point, even earlier this season, when time seemed to be running out for Daniel Farke.
After an indifferent first campaign saw the club stumble to a harmless mid-table finish, Norwich picked up just five points from their first six games in 2018/19, and had to score late to nick a draw against fierce rivals Ipswich in early September.
Norwich have been rewarded for their early patience with Daniel Farke
"If we had sacked Daniel at any time during last season, it probably wouldn't have been a surprise," Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber told Sky Sports earlier this season. "The supporters would not have complained. The local media would not have complained. If the club had listened to the noise, then both Daniel and I would have been sacked a long time ago, but luckily the club stuck with it.
"Sometimes, to get success, you have to go through that period because if it was easy to win by playing the football we want to play with young players and smart recruitment from abroad, then everyone would do it. People are quick to judge but it needs a bit of time. We are trying to sort a big mess out here, which we didn't create, so give us a chance."
Norwich had already lost three games before that draw with Ipswich, but those came against West Brom, Sheffield United and Leeds - who currently occupy the other spots in the top four.
After that, however, came an incredible run that saw them lose just two more games in 2018. By November, they had hit the top of the table, and it was a spot they would only occasionally relinquish between then and all but securing promotion.
It is a lesson in patience that other clubs in the second tier and below could well learn from.

Impressive recruitment

Norwich had financial issues heading into this season as parachute payments had begun to run out, meaning big money could no longer be spent on signing players - even despite the hefty sales of James Maddison and Alex Pritchard last season.
Perhaps their most important signing of all was bringing in Webber from Huddersfield as sporting director in 2017. He appointed Farke and has also been responsible for player recruitment since.
Last season saw the club use their knowledge of the German market to bring in Onel Hernandez, Christoph Zimmermann, Tom Trybull and Marco Stiepermann - all of whom have become pivotal first-team players - while last summer saw the arrivals of Emi Buendia, Moritz Leitner and Tim Krul to help complete the puzzle.
Very few of those signings made many top-10 lists at the start of the season of players to watch out for, but most have proved inspirational and look well set for a shot at the Premier League.
One particular acquisition, however, has probably proved more important than all the others...

The Pukki factor

Teemu Pukki was the first to admit that his last spell in the British Isles was slightly underwhelming. He spent just over a season at Celtic five years ago and managed just nine goals in 37 games before slipping off to Brondby.
There was no real fanfare when he joined Norwich on a free transfer in the summer, but he has been an absolute revelation in the Championship, netting 28 goals in 42 games so far.

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