Friday, August 7, 2020

The Carrow Road horror show – Norwich relegated after a woeful campaign

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 12 Jul 2020

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Watching fellow scrappers West Ham pick up a thumping 4-0 win at Carrow Road on Saturday lunchtime amidst a downbeat atmosphere, Norwich ended their Premier League journey not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Becoming the first team this season to lose their top-flight status, the Canaries have endured what has been a torrid return from football’s enforced break and they now look a shell of the side that marched to the Championship title in empathic fashion last year.

With their stunning 3-2 victory against then defending champions Manchester City back in September feeling like a lifetime ago, many around East Anglia will be looking at where it all went wrong for Norwich this season.

Lack of spending = Lack of ambition?

Completely blown away against a West Ham side who had previously failed to win any of their last eight Premier League matchups on the road, Norwich’s performance on Saturday almost epitomized their problems throughout the season.

While the Canaries might have romped to the Championship title last year after racking up a stunning 94 points, they have drastically failed to build off of that foundation.

Although Norwich might have built their reputation in the second-tier as a young and dynamic squad, they opted against making any real alterations and largely refused to enter the transfer market.

Despite making their transfer policy clear, the Yellows spent just £1.1million last summer, remarkably a league-low and the least money spent by a top-flight returner in the Premier League era.

Instead of investing and building a team around the likes of starlet Todd Cantwell and making a real crack at securing back-to-back Premier League campaigns, their lack of ambition will likely see their most notable stars heading for the exit this summer.

Along with Cantwell reportedly topping Sheffield United’s wishlist over the coming months, defender Ben Godfrey is another who will undoubtedly be on his way out of Carrow Road. One of Norwich’s few positives after what has been a shambolic campaign, the 22-year-old is firmly on the radar of both Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Elsewhere, one of Norwich’s top performers since joining from Spanish outfit Getafe for just £1.35million back in 2018, midfield talisman Emi Buendía is another who looks set to be extending his individual stay in the Premier League.

While Farke might have already made it clear that they will not do anything “crazy” in the transfer market as they look to bounce back in 2020-21, there is no doubt that fans around East Anglia will be feeling they should have given a better account for themselves on their top-flight return.

End of the road for Farke?

Although many around Carrow Road will not be surprised when their most valuable assets leave this summer, there still remains some speculation over his Daniel Farke’s role at the club.

While the former Borussia Dortmund coach might still be talking like a manager who is looking to the future in East Anglia, some of the more vocal sections of Norwich supporters are calling for a change in the dugout.

Although Farke might have gained a string of plaudits for his side’s rampant displays in the Championship last season, he referred to his side’s display on Saturday as “men against boys” and his tactics this season must be brought into question.

Unlike fellow top-flight returners Sheffield United who have offered a host of tactical masterclasses this year in what has been described as a fairytale campaign, Norwich have simply stuck to last season’s formula and shown no real diversity.

Speaking after what was a heartbreaking defeat against West Ham on Saturday lunchtime, Farke issued an apology to fans around East Anglia.

“I feel really sorry especially for our supporters and everyone connected with this amazing club that we were not able to work another miracle. We can only apologise for that. They deserve all the miracles and joy we can bring them. It’s definitely a disappointing day.”

While Farke might have issued a heartfelt apology over the weekend, it does not cover the fact that Norwich have now been relegated from the Premier League for a record fifth time and have continued to break unwanted records this year.

Collecting just 21 points during the 2019/2020 campaign and losing each of their last seven top-flight appearances on the bounce, Norwich have lost 24 Premier League games this season – in no league season in their history have they ever lost more.

Although their famous 3-2 victory against Manchester City back in September might have been an ever so minor bright note, the Canaries will not be looking back on their Premier League return with much fondness over the coming months.


Tom Dunstan

Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan



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