Under Paul Lambert, Norwich rose from League 1 to a 12th place finish in the Premier League in a very short space of time, but this season, the Canaries begin the season with a new man at the helm in Chris Hughton. Hughton and Norwich will be looking to avoid the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ – where 28% of teams that have survived their first season in the top-flight only to be relegated the next. Out of the three promoted sides that were promoted and survived the drop last season, Norwich look to be the ones in the most danger, even if they did finish the highest out of the three.
Chris Hughton, is however, an astute appointment who has had his hands tied at both of his last two jobs – steering Birmingham City into a play-of position in the Championship last season despite have to also contend with the Europa League and the club being under a transfer embargo. One criticism would be that Hughton is not Lambert and that is something fans will have to get used. Tactical flexibility is something that the Canaries enjoyed under Lambert last season: 4-1-2-1-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, 4-5-1 and 5-3-2 and there is a concern that Norwich may lose some of that flexibility this season.
While Lambert has moved on to Aston Villa, Grant Holt, despite handing in a transfer request has since signed a new contract with the Canaries, he will soon win fans back if he picks up where he left off last season where he scored 15 Premier League goals, which was six ahead of the club’s next highest league scorer Steve Morison with nine. Norwich has no problem scoring goals last season as is sometimes customary with promoted sides, they did however, manager to score 52 goals, albeit they were a little loose at the back conceding 56 goals.
Norwich at not a club that makes big-named signings these days nor do they spend huge money or wages on individuals. This summer, Steve Whittaker has arrived from Rangers, Michael Turner from Sunderland, exciting youngster, Jacob Butterfield has joined from Barnsley while Robert Snodgrass has arrived at Carrow Road from Leeds. Getting Grant Holt tied down to a new three-year contract is still arguably the best piece of business that the Canaries have done this summer.
47 points last season and finishing 12th meant that the threat of relegation never seriously loomed over Norwich; however, this season could be different. Hughton retains the vast majority of the squad that achieved that finish, last term. However, there will always be the threat of the second season syndrome looming large over the Canaries. Will they survive?
Opening five fixtures: Fulham (A), QPR (H), Tottenham (A), West Ham (H) and Newcastle (A)